Thursday, June 22, 2006

Strange Convergence on Stories

(AP) CNN just shared advice from ex-Defense Secretary William Perry to Vice President Dick Cheney to the effect the U.S. should declare its intention to preemptively destroy the North Korean long range test missile before it can be launched. Sec. Perry and Ashton Carter wrote an op-ed piece with that advice in today’s Washington Post. Their solution, use a cruise missile to take out the test.

In researching the story on the Independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, I came across William Perry’s name as he helped craft the document. In looking over the Commission’s report and related information, I found President Bush withdrew the U.S. from the ABM Treaty with Russia in 2001. At the time John Rhinelander, a negotiator of the treaty “predicted that the withdrawal would be a fatal blow to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement and would lead to a world without effective legal constraints on nuclear proliferation.” Hindsight shows this concern to have developed.

In researching Dr. Perry I found he has corporate ties similar to most Republican ex-officials. His Board Directorship at Anteon Corporation just ended with its acquisition by General Dynamics but he remains Chairman of Global Technology Partners. His co-author of the Washington Post piece, Ashton Carter is also on the Board of Global Technology Partners, a defense oriented investment firm. In the past Mr. Carter served on the Advisory Board of Draper Laboratories, a high tech government contractor that designs accurate and reliable guidance, navigation and control systems for the Department of Defense and NASA. In 2000 they opened a venture capital division called Navigator Technology Ventures while in 2003 they opened a biomedical division.

In 2002 a Rear Admiral in the Navy gave a Draper employee an award for his achievements “fundamental to providing credible and affordable sea based missile deterrent systems”. So where might this Perry/Carter recommended missile come from, maybe a naval ship? And whose system will be shot, possibly one built or designed by Draper Laboratories?

Mr. Carter is also a member of the Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism. They summarized their now 4 year old report for the House of Representatives. Note the last member of the committee was L Paul Bremer III, working as a consultant for a large insurance broker. How did this qualify him to serve as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, in charge of securing and rebuilding a recently freed Iraq? Did you also notice their recommendation to establish a Homeland Security Institute to evaluate new technologies? It would be a “dedicated, non-profit contractor operated organization which would hire experts to analyze and evaluate new technologies”. And might the Draper Lab or might Mitretek, one of the other non-profit labs with which Mr. Carter is associated, just fit the bill?

If anyone is wondering the impact of business interests in U.S. foreign policy, just take a gander at the Council on Foreign Relations Board of Directors makeup. At the table are The Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group, CitiGroup, and Rockport Capital. Private investment companies Perseus LLC and Mecox Ventures are represented as are at least 3 firms doing strategic consulting for businesses. Several big American companies have a seat, Boeing, C.V. Starr (the parent company of AIG, the giant insurer), TimeWarner, and NBC News (a division of GE). A token of two nonprofit agencies includes CARE and the Doris Duke Foundation. The rest are media, academic, or legal representatives. The Board is heavily weighted towards business interests, thus also is American foreign policy.

So which businesses win given the escalating nuclear concerns in the world today? And can they trace their growth to President Bush’s cancellation of the ABM treaty? Many educational testing companies credit their phenomenal growth the last 4 years to the President’s No Child Left Behind initiative, yet recent data indicates 7,000 children a day drop out of America’s school systems. The investment houses are getting their ducks in a row to make big money off this administrations health care fixes. So five years from now, when ex. Sec. Tommy Thompson recommends a bird flu shot, will he be doing so because he is Chairman of the Board of a fledging company a major investment house wishes to push from the nest? If so, how much reward will he reap?

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