Monday, December 04, 2006

Robert Gates’ Forum for International Policy

In searching Pentagon nominee Robert Gates corporate connections, I learned he is a trustee of the Forum for International Policy. Just as the Iraq Study Group has been stacked with American business chiefs, the Forum is populated by capitalist icons. You might recognize a few names, not in alphabetical order.

Trustees (sampled from their website list)

Kenneth L. Lay, ex-Enron chief convicted of fraud before his untimely death

Dwayne O. Andreas, Chairman Emeritus of Archer Daniels Midland Inc. His son went to prison for lysine price fixing in the mid 1990’s while serving as an ADM Vice President. Did the son take the fall for the father?

The Chairman also did book reviews during his stint at the helm. He had this to say about Nixon’s Ten Commandments of Leadership & Negotiation published in October 1998.

The Ten Commandments of Leadership and Negotiation reveals Nixon's mastery of negotiation techniques. Any business executive or lawyer will find Nixon's bargaining principles compelling.
Dwayne O. Andreas, Chairman, Archer Daniel Midland Company

Harold A. Poling, former Chair and CEO of Ford Motor Company. He serves on the board of Hyperdynamics Corp, a Houston energy company with domestic and international oil and gas holdings. Mr. Poling controls almost 700,000 shares of stock directly or indirectly with a market value of just over $1.85 million.

Poling is also the chairman for Eclipse Aviation Corp, an innovative private jet manufacturer that targets rich executives serving on multiple corporate boards. The company is privately held, thus information on “Red” Polings holdings are not available. However, they likely are substantial given widespread stock compensation for Board Chairs in the United States.

He is a director of Flint Ink Corp, the largest privately held printing ink producer in the world according to a 2005 article. The company had operations in North America, Latin America, Asia, India/Pacific, and Europe.

Mr. Poling is additionally a member of the board of trustees of Spring Arbor University, a Gospel Net/Christian liberal arts college in Michigan. Poling has also served on the boards of ArvinMeritor, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RD), Kellogg (NYSE:K) and is a past director of the Professional Golf Association's (PGA) Tour Policy Board.

Carla A. Hills, chairman and chief executive officer of Hills & Company. Ms. Hills’ company is an international consulting firm providing advice to U.S. businesses on investment, trade, and risk assessment issues abroad, particularly in emerging market economies. Her background includes serving as President George H.W. Bush’s advisor on international trade policy.

She serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, another business stacked non profit advisory group. Ms. Hills serves as a member and counselor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies with a number of her fellow Forum for International Policy Trustees.

Recently a CSIS Board member, Rex Tilerson of Exxon Corp., suggested governments not increase the burden of doing business in their country as it would decrease profitability. Was he shooting an arrow across the bow of Bolivian leader Evo Morales as he nationalizes his country’s energy resources? If the oil in Iraq really belongs to the Iraqi people, why does the same not apply to Bolivia?

Carla also sits on the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission, an international group of heavy hitters with a free trade/capitalistic commerce focus.

Robert S. Strauss, Chairman of the Board of the U.S.-Russia Business Council and Partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P. While Mr. Strauss has served on the boards of directors of numerous U.S. corporations and public institutions, his bio failed to list those affiliations. However, just down the hall at Akin Gump is ex Ambassador and House Speaker Tom Foley, the Chairman of the Trilateral Commission.

David L. Boren, ex U.S. Senator and current President of the University of Oklahoma. The Yale Grad happened to be a member of the infamous Skull and Bones. Senator Boren covered for Robert Gates after CIA analysts went public over concerns he shaped intelligence to fit the Reagan/Bush team's objectives. David sits on the board of Texas Instruments and American Airlines. He served on the Torchmark Corp and ConocoPhillips board as recently as 2002. Since then Richard Armitage joined the ConocoPhillips board as a director. While David serves on the Forum for International Policy, Richard sits on the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Sitting right next to David Boren in the 2002 ConocoPhillips photo is the Forum’s next trustee, Mr. Kenneth M. Duberstein. Ken is chair and CEO of the Duberstein Group, a strategic planning an consulting company. He is the ex White House Chief of Staff under President Reagan and serves on various corporate boards including ConocoPhillips, The Boeing Company, Fannie Mae, Fleming Companies, The St. Paul Travelers Companies Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Collegiate Funding Services, Inc.. Only Fannie Mae got in deep trouble during Ken’s time providing corporate governance. Federal investigators have been critical of the Board’s role in Fannie Mae’s financial troubles. Let’s hope he does better with the “college loans to kids” company than he did with housing.

Mr. Duberstein also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Governors for the NASD and the American Council for Capital Formation (with the aforementioned Robert Strauss). Ken also served as a trustee for the Brookings Institute.

Even when trying to be ethical Ken has faced problems. As chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Ethics Oversight Committee, Mr. Duberstein investigated allegations USOC Chief Executive Lloyd Ward tried to steer business to his brothers firm. Kenneth, charged with conducting the investigation, sat on the General Motors board with Mr. Ward. The conflict came as a result of more than friendship as Ken Duberstein served as a paid lobbyist for GM. Ward could have an approval role in hiring The Duberstein Group.

As if this isn’t enough, Ken helped found the National Endowment for Democracy. Is this group helping to promote democracy in Iran, Russia or Venezuela? Are they funneling any State Department or Pentagon money to other countries to “promote democracy”? As the U.S. government contracts out virtually everything today, are they using NED to further the democratic agenda in the world? If so, Mr. Gates knows just who to call…

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