On November 10, [Joe] Biden announced his agency review teams, which he says “are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One.”
Of the 23 people who comprise the Department of Defense agency review team, eight of them—or just over a third—list their “most recent employment” as organizations, think tanks or companies that either directly receive money from the weapons industry, or are part of this industry. These figures may be an undercount, as In These Times was not immediately able to exhaustively source the funding of every employer.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is listed as the “most recent employment” of three individuals on Biden’s Department of Defense agency review team: Kathleen Hicks (a former defense official under President Obama), Melissa Dalton and Andrew Hunter. CSIS is a hawkish and influential foreign policy think tank that receives funding from General Dynamics Corporation, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation and other weapons manufacturers and defense contractors, as well as oil companies.
Raytheon is a key supplier of bombs to the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen, and has aggressively lobbied to prevent any curbs on arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition. Among the weapons that Northrop Grumman manufactures is drones, which have been used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, among other locations. Notably, a New York Timesinvestigation in 2016 found that, based on a cache of email leaks, CSIS was effectively doubling as a weapons industry lobbying firm, pushing for expanded drone sales. Lockheed Martin is a key contractor for the THAAD missile system in South Korea—a system that CSIS has also advocated for without disclosing their conflict of interest. The company also manufactured the bomb that struck a school bus in Northern Yemen in August 2018, killing at least 26 children.
CSIS also receives money from a host of governments, including the United States, as well as the United Arab Emirates, which has joined with the United States and Saudi Arabia to wage war on Yemen. CSIS, in addition, receives money from the state-run oil company Saudi Aramco, which effectively amounts to a donation from the Saudi government.
Two of the individuals named for Biden’s Department of Defense agency review team—Ely Ratner and Susanna Blume—list the think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) as their most recent employer. CNAS takes a significant chunk of its money from Northrop Grumman Corporation, as well as the U.S. State Department ($500,000 or more per year on both counts), and from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and a host of corporations, including oil companies.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drew heavily from CNAS to advise her presidential primary campaign. The think tank is known for embracing conventional, pro-war foreign policy, as well as escalation toward Russia and China.
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