One Third of Joe Biden’s Defense Transition Team Is Bankrolled By Weapons Manufacturers

By: Sarah Lazare

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 Times inves­ti­ga­tion 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.

Read the rest of this article at In These Times

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