Important Newspaper Article:
Star Wars: The Next Generation
by William D. Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca. Baltimore Sun. Jan. 31, 2001
When President Bush tapped Donald Rumsfeld for defense secretary, he signaled his intention to assign this well-seasoned Pentagon veteran the task of selling missile defense to Congress and US allies....
Given the serious technical, cost, and arms-control problems plaguing the proposed national missile defense system, Rumsfeld faces no small task....
Clearly, Rumsfeld has his work cut out for him. But he's just the man for the job. His close involvement with conservative think tanks and missile defense contractors allies him with the lobby that has promoted missile defense for decades.
Despite Rumsfeld's reputation as a moderate Republican, when it comes to national security issues such as missile defense and nuclear-arms control, he is an ideologue in moderate's clothing....
Rumsfeld is listed as an "informal adviser and faithful supporter" of the Center for Security Policy in its annual report. The Center, founded and directed by former Reagan Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, is a highly partisan advocacy organization that serves as the de facto center of the Star Wars lobby. Its 100-member advisory board is a virtual Star Wars hall of fame, including such luminaries as original Star Warriors Edward Teller and former Reagan science adviser George Keyworth.
The board also includes heads of like-minded, right-wing foundations such as William J. Bennett of Empower America and Henry Cooper of High Frontier.
Rounding out the board are almost two dozen former and current members of Congress, retired military and defense officials, and six defense industry CEOs from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Center receives roughly 20 per cent of its annual revenues from corporate sponsors, including generous contributions from top missile defense corporations.
Rumsfeld was awarded the Center for Security Policy's Keeper of the Flame award in 1998 at a gala dinner attended by retired military officers, conservative political and foundation leaders, and representatives of missile defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin. Past recipients of the award include Sen. Kyl, Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich.
Rumsfeld also serves on the board of Empower America (along with Bennett, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, Jack Kemp, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick), which ran misleading, pro-Star Wars radio ads against incumbent Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the 1998 congressional elections, just a few months after Rumsfeld's allegedly non-partisan analysis of the Third World missile threat was released.
The work of Rumsfeld and his associates has been backed up and supported every step of the way by the arms industry. During the past decade, the major weapons makers have made generous campaign contributions to key members of Congress and invested tens of millions of dollars in their already formidable Washington lobbying operations. Since 1997, the top four missile defense contractors have doled out more than $4 million in PAC contributions and almost $3 million in soft money. But this lavish giving pales in comparison with what these firms spend on lobbying each year: an estimated $18 million....
William D. Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca are the President's Fellow and Senior Research Associate, respectively, at the World Policy Institute at New School University.
This article appeared in the Baltimore Sun.