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Containing the Military Industrial Complex

By David Swanson

Remarks at Democracy Fest, San Diego, July 15, 2006

More than any other weapons system, the chief products of the military industrial complex are lies. We just learned this week that Congress was cracking down on corruption by denying another contract to Halliburton. In reality, Halliburton has completed its main task of building five permanent bases and doesn't care as much about more contracts for services for soldiers. And, in fact, last month the Senate rejected, nearly along party lines, a bill to create honest contracting and impose penalties for fraud of the sort almost openly engaged in by Halliburton.

Lies and secrets are what the military industrial media complex sells us. We say the phrase "military industrial complex," but the lies that it hides behind permeate our thinking and dominate the politics of both major parties. Some of these lies are:

Being tough and hungry for war makes us safer.

The wars we wage have something to do with defense.

The wars we wage are fought for reasons related to foreign threats or international relations.

We wage our wars reluctantly.

Working for peace is weak.

These lies are engrained in all of us, and you will find vestiges of them in yourself long after you reject them. The fact is that the larger our military grows, the less safe we are – because the size of it encourages its use, and its use creates enemies and terrorists.

The Bush Cheney gang has increased spending on weapons and wars to create the largest deficit ever. Our kids and grandkids will pay for this with their dollars and possibly their lives.

What drives our government to behave this way?

Congressman John Murtha recently sent his colleagues a letter comparing the $8 billion a month we're spending to kill Iraqis with the costs of various other projects, but Murtha has voted each year to spend that war money, and the alternatives he offered focused on so-called "Homeland Security" and included a plea to build more ships and planes for the military.

Where does this drive come from to only oppose a war with language that encourages the growth of the Military Industrial Media complex?

The first place we instinctively look is bribes, or what in Washington we call campaign contributions. And those are not insignificant: $16 million in 2004 from weapons makers, 63% of it to Republicans, and $53 million from energy companies, 75% of it to Republicans. The biggest profiteers in the current war are oil companies. If the illegal war bothers you and the price of gas bothers you, it may be even more disturbing to understand that the war was fought in order to raise the price of gas.

But the bribes from weapons makers and oil drillers are small beside those of other industries. And there are members of Congress who do not take them but still behave as if they took them. I'd like to suggest three ways to explain this.

FIRST, Congress Members fear and pander to the corporate media, and the corporate media will not tolerate opposition to the military industrial complex. Just prior to the attack on Iraq, FAIR found that over three quarters of the guests discussing the coming war on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS news were current or former government officials, and three-quarters of those who were not government officials were still supporters of the war. Meanwhile less than 1% were identified with organized protests or anti-war groups.

Of course that makes sense if you're covering a coming war, as opposed to covering a real debate that might not lead to war. When the Downing Street Memo came out, we promoted it at, and editors and producers told us it was old news. It was to them. They had known that the war was decided on. They just hadn't told their viewers.

One force that integrates the media into the military industrial complex is advertising. Another is ownership. Many media magnates – people like Rupert Murdoch, who is hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, his designated '08 loser, have links to weapons companies. GE, which owns NBC, is a weapons company. The Carlyle Group is also getting into media ownership.

Another force is ratings. More people watch TV when there's a war. Another force is think tanks. The Project for a New American Century, whose Deputy Director has been hired by Lockheed Martin, had a heavy presence of talking heads and columnists selling the war.

The MIM Complex sold us the WMD lies and profited handsomely. Halliburton even got $40 million to search for the mythical weapons. But a lot of Democrats refused and still refuse to oppose the lie machine. Here's a typical self-destructive pseudo attack on Bush's war penned by Josh Marshall in October '03:

"Every big new piece of legislation needs a catchy title. And I think I've come up with a good one for the $87 billion. How about 'The Bush Crony Full Employment Act of 2003'? Now, before you get up in arms, I'm for however much money our troops need to get the job done in Iraq…."

Were you about to get up in arms? I don't even carry arms.

But we are afraid to speak against war and have been for many years. I'm convinced that the ease with which we've accepted the utterly incoherent notion of a "war on terror" can be partially credited to our acceptance of such language as "war on poverty" or "war on drugs."

How about peace to end poverty, and prosperity to end terrorism? How about media reform, public media, independent media, and honest news?

The SECOND explanation I would offer for why we fight is that the MIM Complex is the major engine driving our economy. Democratic Congress Members support weapons factories for the sake of the jobs, even knowing that two-thirds of the bribes from the profits will go to Republicans. Within weeks of 9-11, the Department of Attack asked weapons makers for proposals to help "fight terrorism," and the Carlyle Group took a company public, citing 9-11 as a reason why it could.

Under Bush, military spending is up dramatically – it's at roughly $400 billion per year, not counting another $500 billion for war, not counting Homeland Insecurity, and not counting weapons sales to other countries. But this is a horribly inefficient way to stimulate an economy. Just like Bush's tax cuts (which, in contrast to his military spending, Democrats are not afraid to criticize) military spending puts too much money in the few pockets that are already bulging – and it is incredibly wasteful and corrupt. We need a way to drive our economy that benefits those who need it and does so without sacrificing American lives to kill other people. And we need to spend in a sector of the economy not associated with flag waving and war anthems, thus allowing Congress to exercise sober oversight. Some ideas include infrastructure in our cities, renewable energy, energy-efficient transportation, and retraining all of those people who can now stop searching our shoes and laptops when we get on planes.

We also need a ban on sending the National Guard abroad, a mandatory use of the draft for any war, taxes for war paid weekly and called a War Tax, and a requirement that children of Members of Congress, the President, and the Vice President go to war.

The THIRD and final explanation I'll propose for the MIM Complex's influence on our government is this: The Bush White House is a wholey owned subsidiary of Weapons R Us. The National Institute for Public Policy, which hired several so-called thinkers from weapons makers has three alumni in the Bush Administration. The Center for Security Policy, which has 8 weapons executives on its board, has 22 former board members or associates in the Bush Cheney gang. Thirty-two major appointees in the Bush Administration are former executives, consultants, or significant shareholders of weapons companies. Seven members of the Bush Administration came from Northrop Grumman and eight from Lockheed Martin – on whose board Dick Cheney's wife served until 2001, receiving a half a million dollars for whatever it was she did.

The Secretary of the Navy came from General Dynamics, and the Deputy Secretary of State from Raytheon and Boeing – a company that Karl Rove owned $100,000 to $250,000 worth of stock in. Then there are those, like James Woolsey, who serve on advisory boards to the Bush Administration, while simultaneously profiting from the policies they advise on. The LA Times had a lengthy article a year ago yesterday on the long list of people who helped promote a war on Iraq and then set up new companies to profit from it. Bush himself has an uncle and two brothers profiting from this war. But then he had a grandfather who profited from the Nazis and worked with one of Hitler's top funders. So there is a substantial family tradition to uphold. Speaking of which, well known people connected to the Carlyle Group include not just the bin Laden family, but also James Baker, Frank Carlucci, and George Bush the First. The Carlyle Group owns an arm of the British Ministry of Defense, a former branch of the Italian military, and the company in Santa Clara, United Defense, where Bush Jr. gave a speech after waddling across a flight deck to declare mission accomplished.

And then there is Cheney. As Secretary of Attack he paid Halliburton to write a report recommending shifting more work to companies like Halliburton, which got most of the work. Cheney then worked for Halliburton for 5 years and $44 million before going back to what he calls governing. But he continued to receive a salary and hold stock options.

We've moved beyond the sort of war profiteering that Truman called treason. We've moved into a threat to our democracy that is exactly what Madison and Jefferson meant by high crimes and misdemeanors. There is only one thing we can decently do, and that is to impeach the criminals and remove them from office.

And while it is obscene to put electoral considerations ahead of our duty to impeach, those who do so should attempt to remember that no matter how many times they're told impeachment is good for Republicans, all of the evidence points exactly the other way.


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when Kennedy tried to do it he got assasinated.

-He wanted to disband the cia.
-He wanted to get out of Vietnam. Thus starving the MI Complex.
-He wanted to get rid of the Federal reserve. Exec Order 11110. He started printing silver certificates thru the treasury. If you don't understand why Kennedy did this spend a few days researching it. He who controls the money supply and the discount rate controls the country. Lincoln and Jefferson were more afraid of the bankers than they were of standing armies.
- the media is owned by the FR and the MIC.

And what happened JFK was murdered. The murder investigation was a sham. Its the same with 911. The investigation was a sham. Now Bruce Willis is seeing the light. All someone needs to do is see the two books by Griffin and they can start smelling a rat.

So, what can we do. We need to brainstorm this. We need 1,000,000 Americans in the USA brainstorming what to do. We need to get the truth to the masses. So, available to them that whereever they go they can get it. This is what might help bring us out of our absolutely FAILED democracy. Government is evolving. We need to be the ones to help it evolve.

I will give my idea.

Can we create our own nation wide paper, owned by the people. Lets call it "The people's paper." Its a free paper. Its an internet paper. And Its also a physical paper that can be thrown on someone's door step or be placed at the nearest shopping mall. Not everyone has internet access. THe idea is to get it to everyone in the US. Why not have a paper for the people. And in this paper we have no advertising whatsoever. THe problem with our FAILED democracy is the people have very little true quality information. But if we could just get them a paper that has the truth in it in layman's terms. No BS. No advertisements. Just stuff about present legislation that is going thru Washington DC. Facts about crooked lobbying, corporation favoritism, hawks that want war because its good for the bottom line etc... The people get to know that this paper tells it like it is. It would force the present media to tell it like it is. Lets also limit the paper to 5 pages. Lets make it a daily paper including Sunday. Make it readable and not an encyclopedia.

And certainly the powers that be would not want this paper. Information is deadly to them. How could we pass such an ammendment. If all the powers that be would try to thwart it, then how could we pass it ?

LEts add an amendment to the constitution. We talk about our founders so much. But they died hundred of years ago. Let's step up to the plate. Greater than Jefferson's are now here in the USA. People more ingenious than are founders are here today. Lets do it.

Why not ? We now know the reasons for our absolutely failed constitution. One of the huge reasons is because of information. INformation is held in secret. Secret meetings. Secret classification. Secret this and secret that. The people are out of the loop. They have been out of the loop for at least 100 years.

Then what we do is add this as an ammendment to the constitution. That the people will have a paper not owned by anyone but the people. It would be like jury duty. If your name is called you have to serve on it. And lets say that we also had 100,000 writers from all walks of life. People that wanted to write. Can the powers that be stack the deck with 100,000 people. Making it a 100,000 might make it so it cannot be corrupted. and lets say a new 100,000 is picked every year. And the paper is fully paid for by taxes. There is no Federal official ahead of this paper. It is a fourth arm of balance to our government. We have an executive, a judicial branch and a legislative branch. We have been brainwashed forever that this is all that is needed to have a successful government. But history has shown us that three branches are not enough to insure a healthy vibrant system. Now lets have a people branch, since it seems that the 3 branches we presently have have TOTALLY AND UTTERLY FAILED to produce a healthy system. Have a people branch that has a paper that is supported by taxes.

We know how the fox would soon be trying to guard this hen house. so, we are vigilant to make sure that it is independent and out of the hands of the present concentration of power. There would be absolutely NO Fed Paper chairman. No one from Wall Street would be on it. No one from the military industrial complex. No writer from any paper would be on it. Only citizens of the US would be eligible. And people we would be reading this paper all the time, so we could smell a rat pretty damn quickly. We don't care about vocabulary. We care about content.

And if anyone is assasinated for what they write. Then immediatley we have an investigation by the fourth arm of the government, the people's arm. We bring in 100 investigators and we have a thorough investigation. The present Supreme Court gets no say in it. We get a peoples court also. And we also write in the peoples paper every part of the investigation because we don't trust that any part of the system, even our own separate People's court.

Anyway we need something new. This is my proposal. Do you have some idea ??

Can anyone expand on this idea. We need to think radically ? We need to add a people branch to our government. We need an ammendment that calls for a separate paper not owned or controlled by any economic interests. One that is guarded like the front door lock on your house or apartment. One that is guarded like the nuke button.

Maybe we make this more than an ammendment. Lets make it a
new article.

you forgot that our new self appointed monarch has stated for the record; "it's just a goddamned piece of paper.." (amending something he wipes his ass with on a regular basis just gives him a little less chance of making an 'amazing breakthru' while crapping on it again..}

this idea would have been great BEFORE we became a FULL BLOWN DICTATORSHIP, eh?

Just check out this info at - tell me if it makes sense to you...

Excellent contemporary documentary ".... Inspired by President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address in which he warned Americans about the dangers of the 'military industrial complex' , filmmaker Jarecki ("The Trials of Henry Kissinger") weaves unforgettable stories of everyday Americans touched by war with commentary by a "who's who" of military and Washington insiders..."

My favorite part is when Karen Kwiatkowski talks about the "think tanks".


this is a shot in the dark. I have read that Hugo Chavez will sell crude for $50.00 a barrel. Is this $50.00 barrel refined? In other words, is the $75.00 a barrel we buy refined" Is the $75 dollar barrel a better deal?

Do you think that, because Venezuela is considered by many to be a "third-world" country, that their oil is third-rate? It's being dispersed at CITGo stations as we speak...why don't you ask someone at a CITGO station if they believe that their oil is "third-rate", simply because it isn't strictly from our "usual suspects"?

That's scary to consider...

Well said. Good stuff, David.

It is all about who can pitch their message the best. Forget the truth. Truth is plastic, or maybe rubbery. See how I can stretch it? Heck, I can tie it into knots, and when I am done with you I will have you believing your Mother was a Natzi! They can serve you dog crap and tell you it is a fine fillet, and you will be asking where the steak sauce is. Eventually enough lemmings come forward to lap it up. Spread your words, pound away at it, and eventually the word will spread and take on a life all its own. Now it is in the churches because they can find a way to justify the war by saying that this is as much a crusade against those hoards of heathen as it is in spreading Democracy and freedom (barf)! Sure, why, God is even on their side, for crying out loud! Even Jesus would bomb those suckers if given half a chance and a couple dozen tactical nukes. Sure, sure.

So we do a better job pitching this thing, and this is a very good place to start. Stand for justice, stand for truth, stand for the Constitution. You can't make exhortation about protecting the American People while rubbing out the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. It is like little Lisa saying she is just a little pregnant. Our system does not exist when you are bending the Constitution a little. Freedom and security do not mix well, and therein lies the greatness of our grand experiment. People were willing to die for liberty at one time. Nowadays, we have false flag operations that say that the effort IS for Freedom and Democratic ideals, but are not. Democracy is not won at the end of a rifle bore, it can only be won through revolutionary thinking, the kind that peeled our ancestors from that other King George. They can't be just a little infringing and still keep your freedoms intact. Begin framing the debate, not following it with a bunch of weak sniping retorts. We now have the moral high ground. Truth is, your government has been lying to you, and it is time not just to wake up, but to exercise your responsibility as an American to educate yourself. Oh, but the lies pile up so fast that it gets hard to sort through them all, and that is a convenient thing when waging a propaganda war.

Jeez. Maybe I oughta sit back and finish American Idol. Too much to do, you know? Could someone turn the AC back on so I can lounge in comfort and forget the troubles of the world for a little while? So it goes. We need to develop a message that will overcome the lies in a compelling and masterful way.

In times like these, we need to be like alarm clocks.

It is starting here, and in other places where Truth is not just a word that can be tied into knots, and the Constitution is not something to wipe your ass with.

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