United States

U.S. Senators Feeding from the Same Trough

By Ted Newcomen

U.S. Senators John McCain (R), Barbara Mikulski (D), and John Barrasso (R) continue to rub shoulders with dubious types as they travel the world feeding from the same trough, all funded by some highly questionable corporate sponsors from the military/industrial complex.

The editor of Socialist Viewpoint rightly took me to task in the draft copy of this article for mistakenly calling the three Senators “our elected representatives”—my apologies for having a misplaced sense of irony. The title Senator is really only a label—just like we find on a can of baked beans in a supermarket. The public can buy (or vote) for any product (or politician) they like as long as the shop-owner (or the one percent plutocracy) continues to self-select what (or who) actually sits on the shelf and is available for us to choose. Such is the dystopian reality that currently passes for democracy in the U.S.A.

All three Senators were guest speakers at last November’s 4th Halifax International Forum (HIF),1 a Canadian weekend security “love-in” with about 275 participants—mainly right-wing rejects, has-beens, and past-use-by-date politicians and other so-called “experts” from over 50 countries.

We don’t know how much the three Senators were paid for this particular jolly but it surely can’t be much less than fellow speaker and British Member of Parliament, Liam Fox. According to the register of MP’s interests2, Mr. Fox accepted “return flights, internal transportation, accommodation and some meals with a total value of 3,228-12 Pounds Sterling”—that’s about $5,200 in fiat money.

Most U.S. readers may not be aware that earlier this year Mr. Fox was fired3 as UK Defense Secretary over his odd relationship with “special advisor,” former flat-mate, and best man Adam Werrrity.  Mr. Fox had insisted his friend was not working for him officially or unofficially but an investigation revealed they met at the Department of Defense offices 22 times in 16 months and Mr.Werrity accompanied the Minister on 18 overseas trips handing out business cards falsely claiming he was Mr. Fox’s advisor.

Fox, McCain, Mikulski, and Barrasso were listed among approximately 100 speakers at the Halifax conference which Murdoch’s Fox Noise dubbed as a “non-profit, non-partisan organization, to discuss emerging threats to the world.”

Other speakers included David J. Kramer, Secretary to the Board of the HIF and President of the ironically named Freedom House which describes itself as “an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world.”  This organization was identified by the Financial Times (hardly a torch-bearer for the Left)4 as one of several organizations selected by the State Department to receive funding for “clandestine activities” inside Iran. And let’s not forget their other activities5—links with the CIA in destabilizing missions against legitimately established governments such as Cuba, opposition to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, objection to the German government’s banning of Nazi propaganda on the internet, and general partiality to a number of repressive but pro-U.S. regimes around the world.6

What the “lamestream” media actually failed to report was that the Halifax International Forum was partly funded by the huge U.S. weapons manufacturer, General Dynamics7 and the private mercenary outfit, sorry I surely mean security company, DynCorp.

It may be recalled that in 2008 General Dynamics agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit8 brought by the U.S. Government claiming a GD unit had fraudulently billed the government for defectively manufactured parts used in U.S. military aircraft and submarines. This was just the latest incident in a series going back decades to the early 1940s when the company was the target of Congressional investigations into profiteering and unethical business practices, but that probe was cut short as the country started to ramp up military output.

DynCorp might be a more familiar name to readers who recall the company received some notoriety for losing an unfair dismissal case brought in the UK in 2002 by Kathryn Bolkovac9. The U.S. policewoman had been sacked by DynCorp when she attempted to blow the whistle on sex trafficking in Bosnia where the firm had a contract running postwar police operations. Her story subsequently became the inspiration for the hit movie “The Whistleblower,” starring Rachel Weisz.

More recently DynCorp has been chastised for its dismal performance in managing a multimillion-dollar contract to train police in post-war Iraq10. In Afghanistan the firm provided some of President Hamid Karzai’s bodyguards who were subsequently fired for being found drunk, paying for dancing boys and underage prostitutes11.

You would think “our” Senators could choose better colleagues and less embarrassing corporate sponsors?