Trump Adds to Washington’s ‘Swamp’

Exclusive: President Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” was just one more empty promise as he adds to the muck with military contractors in key Pentagon jobs and other industry lobbyists at regulatory posts, says Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

In the Famous-Last-Words department, this Dec. 12, 2016 headline from Reuters surely ranks among the worst: “Trump attack on Lockheed Martin foreshadows war on defense industry.” When it comes to military contractors, President Trump surely prefers to make love, not war.

Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 war plane.

Not only does he seek a $51 billion increase in the base military budget, Trump is putting top defense industry insiders in charge of spending more than $300 billion a year in contract awards to private corporations.

Those insiders include former General Dynamics board member James Mattis, now Secretary of Defense; former Boeing Senior Vice President Patrick Shanahan, now Deputy Secretary of Defense; Raytheon’s former top lobbyist, Mark Esper, now Secretary of the Army; and former Textron CEO Ellen Lord, now Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, a post that supervises all Pentagon weapons procurement.

Oh, yes, let’s not forget Lockheed Martin Corporation, subject of the Reuters headlines and the nation’s biggest military contractor, with annual sales of nearly $50 billion. Trump chose its former consultant, Heather Wilson, to become Secretary of the Air Force.

Lockheed Martin paid Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, nearly a quarter million dollars for advice on winning an extension of its contract to run Sandia National Laboratories. Following that campaign, the company had to pay the feds $4.7 million to settle charges that it improperly used government money to lobby senior U.S. officials.

Now Wilson is overseeing the biggest weapons program in U.S. history — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a notoriously trouble-plagued jet with a total estimated program cost of more than $1 trillion. Who makes it? Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin also makes the equally notorious Littoral Combat Ship for the U.S. Navy.

More Military-Industrial Complex

Last month, the Trump administration sent to the Senate its nomination for the Pentagon’s third-highest position, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He’s John Rood, senior vice president of Lockheed Martin International. Rood oversees the company’s weapons sales in some 70 other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which signed a gigantic arms deal with President Trump in May.

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of Saudi King Salman, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

That $110 billion deal sent defense stocks soaring to all-time highs. Lockheed Martin’s CEO, citing prospective new weapons sales worth $28 billion, said she hoped the deal would “strengthen the cause of peace in the region.”

In his previous job as Vice President for Government Affairs for Lockheed Martin, Rood directed its lobbying activities in Washington. Last year the company spent more than $13.9 million on lobbying and mobilized $5 million in campaign contributions, making it one of the very top corporate political spenders.

Lockheed lobbies through the media as well as in Congress. In May, a Washington Post column authored by Stephen Rademaker, a lobbyist with the Lockheed-funded Podesta Group, insisted that the best way to confront North Korea was by deploying the THAAD and Aegis Ashore missile defense systems, as well as “long-range strike aircraft” — all, not coincidentally, built by Lockheed Martin. Adam Johnson, a writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), pointed out that the newspaper noted Rademaker’s connection to Podesta Group, but not its role as a major lobbyist for the military contractor.

Rood would also have had a hand in the company’s contributions to many “independent” think-tanks, such as the Atlantic Council, Center for a New American Security, Center for Security Policy, Heritage Foundation, Lexington Institute (founded by a Lockheed lobbyist), and others that promote greater military spending and often recommend specific weapons systems built by Lockheed Martin.

One example is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a major hawkish think tank based in Washington, D. C. It has “push[ed] the THAAD missile system or its underlying value proposition in US media” at least 30 times, according to Johnson and his colleagues at FAIR. CSIS, which has long been notably secretive about its funding, admits that Lockheed Martin ranks with Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman among its top-10 corporate funders.

A New York Times exposé last year also cited the Center’s role in pushing for government permission to export drones, another weapons system that Lockheed Martin helps build.

Trump Goes to the Extreme

Trump is certainly not the first president to appoint defense industry executives to senior Pentagon posts, but he’s taken the practice to extreme lengths. He’s also extended the same practice to almost every other cabinet department.

The Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department, as viewed with the Potomac River and Washington, D.C., in the background. (Defense Department photo)

Thus he appointed a top lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the American Chemistry Council, and the National Association of Manufacturers to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air enforcement office; a coal industry consultant to head the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement; and a top pharmaceutical executive to head Health and Human Services.

And after his frequent campaign blasts against Goldman Sachs, Trump has appointed its alumni to top White House, Treasury, economic policy, national security, and Wall Street regulatory jobs. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he was proud of this record but admitted he was “a little apprehensive . . . for fear of how it might look.”

With their stock prices up more than 30 percent in the year since last November’s election, neither Goldman Sachs nor Lockheed Martin seems to worry too much about appearances. Nor do Raytheon, General Dynamics, and all the other contractors profiting from the military spending boom that Trump is promoting. But if you smell something funny coming out of Washington, it’s because someone forgot to drain the swamp.

Jonathan Marshall is author of many articles on military procurement and contractors, including “US Arms Makers Invest in a New Cold War,” “Feeding the Military-Industrial Complex,” and “New Navy Ship Leaking Tax Dollars.”

27 comments for “Trump Adds to Washington’s ‘Swamp’

  1. November 17, 2017 at 13:43

    Amazing! Fascism laid bare, the merger of corporate and state interests. Great reporting missing only the massive public subsidies paid to the oil and gas industries via the oil depletion allowance and the glaring fact the U.S.military is at the beck and call of the private energy corporations.

    Use this excellent report as ammo and spread it far and wide. Also, we need to educate the public on Orwellian double speak. “Lobbying,” is simply a euphemism for BRIBERY, which is illegal. Of course things are only illegal when one gets caught. As long as the public accepts lobbying as the legal bribery of public officials then this fascist cancer will continue to metastasize.

  2. Christene Bartels
    November 16, 2017 at 11:39

    From where I sit in Middle of Nowhere, Flyover Country, USA it looks to me like both major political parties are turning into veritable train wrecks, the Washington Establishment is in complete disarray, D.C. is in the process of cannibalizing itself, and the MSM is shredding the tattered remains of its integrity and credibility as it chases its own tail with every hysterical, breathless, Maddow inspired Russian conspiracy “BREAKING NEWS!!” headline.
    Oh…..and last time I checked, Trump hasn’t launched any new wars and no major ME leader has been deposed and publicly sodomized with a sharp implement. In fact, the situation in Syria has deescalated to the point that as of Oct. 2017, there are no longer any major military operations going on (CNN). It is much the same in Iraq. And ISIS seems to have actually reached the “JV team” status Obama declared them to be in 2011.
    (Speaking of Obama, the first American president to be at war all 8 years of his presidency, you can read the dismal state of these conflicts in this article from the L.A. Times as Obama left office in Jan. 2017

    Sorry, but I’ve got no complaints.

  3. fudmier
    November 16, 2017 at 07:43

    adding to Stephen J’s comment the following
    transporting 4000 members of ISIS with heavy and light weapons and families through Syria into Europe and America.. Expect ISIS to move in next door to you.. Shari to become the law you must obey, Wahhabi the state imposed religion, the schools to teach Wahhabi, and after your head is severed, your children to be sold as slaves to those who have the bread. Everyone not directly involved with Al Capone, liked him.. Capone gave so much to Charity.. If Mr. Capone could have imposed Wahhabi and Shari law his empire would not have faltered.? Until humanity decides to stop paying the bribes, and allowing its governments to break the knees of those who refuse to pay, the bribes will continue, the government will be the authority that breaks the knees ..

  4. November 15, 2017 at 23:12

    See article at link below;
    War on ISIS – Whose Side Are We Really On?
    written by daniel mcadams
    wednesday november 15, 2017

    On Sunday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a press conference that the US military would remain in Syria for the long haul, “as long as there are ISIS who want to fight” he said. He falsely claimed that the US operates in Syria with UN permission. According to a blockbuster BBC report, however, the US government was part of a secret deal to allow thousands of ISIS fighters and their families safe passage from Raqqa — with their weapons! What’s going on here? Join us for today’s Liberty Report: …

    [More at links below]

  5. Zachary Smith
    November 15, 2017 at 20:48

    I went to the Littoral Ship wiki and found this: “In the fiscal year 2011, the unit cost was $1.8 billion…”

    This for a basically useless floating pile of junk which isn’t as useful as a good Coast Guard Cutter. Curious as to how the price compared with past ships, I learned that the USS Independence (CV-62) cost $189 million dollars in 1959. Translated into 2017 money, that comes to $1.6 billion dollars for an 80,000 ton vessel which actually did things. Yeah, the CPI is really inaccurate, but it still gives a vague idea of how much we’re getting screwed.

    The best explanation I have is that the Navy is a strange combination of hidebound and corrupt. The Fat Leonard scandal has ensnared 60 officers of the Admiral rank, and Lord only knows how many more were/are looking for easy money or good jobs after retiring.

    Excellent article, but with the toxic combination of an ignorant POTUS, corrupt Congress and Navy, and the revolving door used by Big Business, I don’t see anything changing.

    • Seer
      November 15, 2017 at 21:46

      Just as the sun sets and rises military contractors have screwed the taxpayers as well as screwed the troops. Nothing new under the sun. The US’s god is the MIC.

  6. November 15, 2017 at 20:17

    Duke historian, Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains, explains that “drain the swamp” is actually neoliberal “code” which means the opposite of what normal people assume. The swamp is everyone of us who is not in the elite. So, Trump is keeping his promise by dismantling the government and stripping America of all vestiges of progress and New Deal reforms which the suffering and abused elite have been forced to endure.

  7. Piotr Berman
    November 15, 2017 at 16:18

    The word “swamp” has many synonyms, quag, mire, morass, bog, marsh, etc. but now the proper term is wetland. Wetlands are essential for biodiversity, hydrological balance etc., and thus sensible regulations discourage and often prohibit elimination of wetlands and encourage conversion of former wetlands back to damp status. I guess Trump Administration has seen the light and is busy protecting wetlands and restoring moisture in areas that were not wet enough, like military budget.

  8. john wilson
    November 15, 2017 at 15:36

    Hi ABE, I don’t know if I mentioned it to you before on another post, but if you want to see what people on the Atlantic council really look like, then check Oksan Boyko’s (RT) interview with Mathew Kroeng who is a fellow of the Atlantic council. It was bizarre and and quite chilling to watch. This ghastly character personifies everything that is evil in the deep state which runs America. We are not fighting normal men, we are up against Lucifer’s Satanic henchmen if this insidious, nasty piece of work is anything to go by.

    • Abe
      November 15, 2017 at 16:37

      Kroenig is a pro-Israel Lobby think tank shill, primarily arguing for a U.S. attack on Iran, as well as propping up the Israeli-Saudi-US Axis efforts in Syria and the Russia-gate scam.

      “I have no doubt in their analysis”

      A creature of the deep state “swamp”, Kroenig is a personal friend of Ambassador John Huntsman, Jr., Trump’s “swamp thing” in Moscow.

      Kroenig began his career as a military analyst in the Strategic Assessment Group at the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2005, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Right out of graduate school in 2007, Kroenig was given a tenure-track job at Georgetown.

      A foreign policy advisor on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, Kroenig later served as a senior national security advisor on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.

      In articles for Foreign Affairs and the book, “A Time to Attack”, Kroenig argued that the United States should conduct “a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities” and “absorb an inevitable round of retaliation”.

      Kroenig advanced this brilliant plan in order to “head off a possible Israeli operation against Iran, which, given Israel’s limited capability to mitigate a potential battle and inflict lasting damage, would likely result in far more devastating consequences” for Israel.

      Rather than advocate less hysterical and bellicose rhetoric by Israel, Kroenig has encouraged the United States to launch a potentially catastrophic war on Israel’s behalf.

      Kroenig began his career as a military analyst in the Strategic Assessment Group at the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2005, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

      Right out of graduate school in 2007, Kroenig was given a tenure-track job at Georgetown.

      From 2010 to 2011, Kroenig returned to the Pentagon to serve as a special advisor on Iran policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

      Kroenig served as a foreign policy advisor on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and as a senior national security advisor on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.

      • john wilson
        November 16, 2017 at 05:57

        Thanks ABE. Having seen this creature in the flesh and now read your comprehensive account of this horrible little war monger, I don’t doubt that Iran should be making every preparation to beef up its defenses. One way or another these psychopaths will engineer some kind of attack against Iran. They should have made themselves a couple of hundred nukes for their own safety.

  9. Abe
    November 15, 2017 at 13:51

    Think tank denizen and obsequious “friend” of Israel, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. is Trump’s “swamp thing” Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

    Like Trump, Huntsman listens “very carefully” to “what leadership in Israel has to say” about matters.

    Back in 2011, in response to a question about Israel’s expansion of settlements in illegally occupied Palestinian territory, Huntsman exclaimed, “what we can do during this time of uncertainty is to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel and remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States. This we have not done in a very long time and, so long as there is not any blue sky between United States and Israel, it doesn’t matter what plays out in the region.”

    Huntsman served as a “distinguished fellow” at the pro-Israel Brookings Institute and as Chairman of the Atlantic Council “regime change” think tank:

    “If you want to know just how sorry relations in between Russia and the United States have become, look for the current Ambassador to Russia. America’s closest connect with Moscow via appointment by President Donald Trump, Jon Huntsman Jr. is the son of billionaire businessman Jon Huntsman Sr. of the Huntsman Corporation. […]

    “The former Governor of Utah (2005-2009), the billionaire’s son has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents. He was even a presidential candidate, some of you will remember. Interestingly, for all his high level positions and connections […] a dreadful Washington think tank and the foreign policy numb skulls at the Atlantic Council. […]

    First and foremost, the key people of the Atlantic Council as former President Barack Obama took office, they soon migrated to key positions in that (notorious) administration. The names James L. Jones, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, Brent Scowcroft, and Anne-Marie Slaughter should ring bells for those tuned in to U.S. regime change and covert ops. Now President Trump’s administration is filling up with the same brand of people who have ruined international relations for the last thirty years. But Huntsman’s associations with murderous policymakers goes all the way back to the Nixon administration when his father was “in” the game. Henry Kissinger was an early influence according to some, and

    “The Atlantic Council is a front organization bent on ‘twisting’ foreign nations to fall in line with the globalist doctrine. Funded by an array of corporate and foreign interests, the think tank also gets contributions from 102 corporations (PDF), 16 foreign nations in some form of conflict with Russia, and NATO. The list of Atlantic Council corporate and state donors can also be found here, via the council’s ‘honor roll’ of funding sources here, and a cross reference of those companies’ interests where Russia are concerned will also prove fruitful. But where the Atlantic Council gets its money from is not nearly as meaningful as what the think tank does with the money. America’s All-American boy from the U.S. State Department in residence in Moscow oversees the efforts of some of Russia’s worst ever enemies. And not ‘just’ enemies, but some of the most malicious and mediocre imaginable. Now let me link up the top of the globalist food chain with the bottom. Enter Nonresident Senior Fellow, and Digital Forensic Research Lab (don’t laugh out loud) guru Elliott Higgins (of Bellingcat MH17 fame) The think tank former NATO boss Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the ‘pre-eminent think tank’, has invented a scientific sub-discipline and deployed the world’s biggest Russophobes to man it. So, Trump just threw a gigantic doggie do in the Russian swimming pool of policy there in Moscow. By sending the guy who empowers the guy who partnered with the Atlantic Council to co-author the report Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine, Trump has spit in the face of just about any Russian who can read, not to mention the country’s president. […]

    “The Obama White House destroyed good relations in between America and Russia. The regime change and conflict scenarios played out from Libya to Ukraine put the world under the threat of global annihilation once again. And this, after a hopeful world watched and waited for global peace and prosperity. Now the Trump administration sets the same chess pieces in place previous administrations did. No one reading this will recall that it was Jon Huntsman Jr. who was accused of inciting a revolt when he was the Ambassador to China in 2011. It was then that Huntsman made a controversial appearance at the site of a planned pro-democracy protest in Beijing, the so called ‘Jasmine Revolution’ intended to spur large scale ‘Arab Spring’ like movement in China. Huntsman was captured on video at the Wangfujing shopping area, where a major demonstration was called for. Now he’s the head of the subversives like Higgins who made their names propping up the false narratives against Russia. And to make matters worse, Huntsman made no bones about assuring the U.S. Senate of his ‘intentions’ by proclaiming; ‘There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year’ during his confirmation hearings.

    “Trump could not have done a worse job of improving relations with Russia if he’d sent wild man John McCain to represent America in Moscow.”

    Jon Huntsman Jr. and Why America-Russia Relations Will Remain Stuck?
    By Phil Butler

    • Annie
      November 15, 2017 at 18:43

      Interesting article. I remember reading that back in 2006 we went from MAD ( mutual assured destruction) to the belief that the US can gain nuclear primacy and be in a position to win a nuclear war and conquer, Russia. That does seem the path we have been taking and I believe that this constant barrage of Russia-gate is one of many things being used to ultimately engage Russia in a nuclear war. My mother was very political, and an anti-Zionist. She would talk endlessly about Israel bringing us into wars in the middle east that would ultimately wind up in a nuclear war with Russia. Too young, to listen back then, but it seems her predictions are coming true. She was accused of being anti-Semitic, but that was definitely not the case. She also had strong socialistic leanings, and therefore a Commie, also not true. She was so adamant about her predictions, and when our wars in the Middle East started and our confrontational attitude toward Russia began, it seems she may have been all too correct. Sometimes it spooks me out.

  10. November 15, 2017 at 13:18

    Just further proof that the USA is a hopelessly lost country. Just how rediculous does the Constitution sound against the backdrop that is the Government of the USA?

    • Annie
      November 15, 2017 at 17:38

      Not only the constitution, but what about our total disregard for international law? I have a cousin who is an international lawyer,and affiliated with the military. He saw Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a breech of international law, but not our wars in the Middle East. He honestly believed the sh*t he was telling me. We’re doomed.

      • Seer
        November 15, 2017 at 21:34

        And the meddling in Ukraine is pretty much exposed ( Yet, ask your cousin where there is ANYTHING similarly published of the Russians doing anything like this. We know darn well that if the US had conversations from Russians meddling like this that it would be aired until we couldn’t stand it anymore.

        • Annie
          November 15, 2017 at 21:40

          I told him that, and he brushed it off. There is no talking to him or people like him. He even accused me of being anti-American, not realizing his position on things is what is destroying us.

          • Nancy
            November 16, 2017 at 13:03

            I recently had a conversation with a colleague I thought was reasonably intelligent. I took a chance and asked him if he believed the Russian meddling nonsense. He nodded vigorously and said, “Oh yeah, Trump is a scumbag and Putin used to be head of the KGB.”
            No need for logic or evidence.
            I referred him to this website, but am doubtful he’ll make the effort to open his mind.

        • Seer
          November 15, 2017 at 21:41

          More appropriately (the BBC article, while containing facts [the leaks], injects innuendos implicating Russian involvement):

    • November 17, 2017 at 13:55

      USA is Gotham. A cesspool of corruption and ego maniacs.

  11. Brad Owen
    November 15, 2017 at 13:07

    The Deep Staters probably joke among themselves thus: “Hee-hee-hee. Yeah, over his dead body. Hee-hee-hee…”. It will take a lot more than one, outsider, temporary employee hired to occupy the White House, to drain the swamp. Turk 151 has a point, and Chris Hedges described the election as Ulysses’s choice between Scylla and Charybdis…you’re going to get burned no matter which way you turned. And, BTW, I voted Jill and the Greens, but even if she had won (a possibility with her being on 95% of the ballots), we would still have the problem of a lonely outsider, temporary employee hired to occupy the White House…she would probably be hit with a Mueller investigation into her “Treasonous” appearance on RT, and slammed against the ropes for the duration of her 4 (or less) years. There is no neat and tidy way out of this.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    November 15, 2017 at 12:45

    The United States was a politico-economic backwater long before Trump ever slinked across the stage of American political life.

  13. mike k
    November 15, 2017 at 12:02

    And Trump is the guy some supposedly intelligent people are still looking to for peace with Russia, or anybody else?? I had a relationship once with a man who had been a race track tout for many years, and had made a damn good living at it. He told me that he and his confreres kept little notebooks with contact info on suckers they had conned. There were special pages for people who had been conned again and again, and still came back for more. The called these folks “racetrack degenerates.” There seem to be a lot of political degenerates who just never learn, no matter how many times they have been burned!

    • turk151
      November 15, 2017 at 12:19

      The 2016 election was between the deep state apparatchik vs. the nation’s preeminent con artist; I support the people’s decision.

    • Tannenhouser
      November 16, 2017 at 09:47

      I’m sorry, however…….Do you vote mike k? If not IMO u got no right to bitch about politics, it’s actually the only reason I do vote, if so you got burned. Guess what that makes you? I sure am glad you are supposedly intelligent. Trumps rhetoric was decidedly anti war and power to the people, HRC was the polar opposite. I know I know silly degenerates voting for no war. I guess all those people who believed Barry TWICE are degenerates as well right mike k? Hmm that seems racist must be misogynist as well cuz women vote too in the large demographic that turned out for Barry. Holy cow man!!!

  14. GMC
    November 15, 2017 at 11:21

    Well, because Obama and Trump did a complete 180 degree turn on the campaign speeches and ” promises’ , the American people should never trust another President candidate because it’s all been rigged – years back. Same goes for the House, Senate and Congress but I have no idea how the US populace is going to deal with such ‘ out in the open ‘ corruption in their politics. Obama’s continuation of the ” Indefinite Detention without Charge or Trial” puts a outstanding warrant on every person in the USA. I doubt if I’ll be back. I was born free – and I will live where I will die free too -Thank you very much.

  15. Sally Snyder
    November 15, 2017 at 11:12

    Here is an interesting look at voter support for the Trump agenda:

    This gives us with an even clearer viewpoint on the divisiveness that plagues America today.

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