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Senators backing war in Syria are flush with defense industry cash

By   /   September 6, 2013  /   55 Comments

AP photo

HELLO, FRIEND: Secretary of State John Kerry, center, is greeted by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

 

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

This just in: The military-industrial complex is a powerful force in Washington, D.C. politics.

It’s not exactly new information, but the debate over Syria seems to have exposed — once again — the degree to which defense contractors and others standing to profit from the United States launching missiles at a foreign country.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday voted 10-7 in favor of authorizing military action in Syria.  The vote was the first step to a full Senate vote to authorize President Barack Obama’s plan to bomb the war-torn nation.

According to an analysis by MapLight, which tracks lobbying and campaign contributions in Congress, senators who voted in favor of the resolution received, on average, 83 percent more money from defense contractors and other defense interests than senators who voted against the resolution.

The MapLight analysis looked at campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012.

In raw dollars, the 10 senators voting in favor of the military authorization received a total of $728,000, for an average of $72,800.

It’s hardly surprising that uber-hawk Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led the way with more than $176,000 in contributions from defense interests. (McCain, during the same hearing, was caught playing video poker on his smart phone).

On the other side, the seven senators who opposed military action in Syria received a total of $278,000 from defense interests, for an average of $39,000 per senator.

It’s worth noting that every senator on the committee received at least $14,000 from the defense industry between 2007 and 2012, according to MapLight.  Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, was the low man on that totem pole.

Of course, it’s easy to spend lots of money on politicians when your business is making missiles that sell for $1.45 million apiece.

Here’s the whole rundown:

SyriaVote

Eric Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @EricBoehm87 on Twitter.

 

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

  • Taxilady88

    No surprise whatsoever! For SOME war is profitable…for military families not so much! Losing a family member is not worth it! I had to shake my head when Obama said that we must make sure these chemical weapons don’t get into the wrong hands…oooops…too late!

  • HolyCowRUKiddingme

    At what point will Veterans realize they are PAWNS putting their lives and limbs on the line and start a revolution to take this Country back

    Could McLame be the biggest offender? – He is a disgrace!

  • marysaunders

    The minutes per day McCain is getting indicates influence on the media as well. Can an industrious journalist check that out and post it? Matt Taibbi can give

    banks what-for because RS does not take bank ads. We need to get serious about outing the chain of custody of big-ad bucks, so we have a better idea how to follow the money. Grayson, Amash, and others are representing the people. I get direct contact from these two. There have to be a few others who are listening to the people as opposed to playing adolescent games on their phones.

  • OldmanRick

    Just another great example to demonstrate that politicos cater to public interest groups and care less about their constituents. It’s all about money, self interest, and power. It’s not about people and the country.

  • David Van Rensburg

    Can all Americans who believe in liberty and freedom stand up and help prevent the poverty caused by the federal reserve , the loss of life caused by their military and the destruction of our planet caused by their corporations. Obviously they are not alone amongst world nations but as a so-called world leader, the US govt is a failure and probably the most toxic entity facing all our futures. All for the sake of zero’s and one’s in their corrupt bank accounts. The people of the world no longer believe their lies .

  • EpluribusUNO

    Unfortunately, the same incredible determination that allowed McCain to survive captivity, is not serving him well now. As a former pilot, he still thinks he can solve ANY international problem with bombing people in countries who are mere pawns in superpower geo-politics. He is as “certain” as Kerry about the intentions of a few paid Qatari mercenaries who think they can run a country better than Assad. They can’t. “I know these people” McCain says… after a nice chat one weekend? Does he know that they are paid by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to CREATE this phony civil war? How and WHY do a band of rebels get access to major military weapons? The Idaho Militia can’t get that much weaponry.

    According to Kerry, we have no subsequent role? McCain says we HAVE to remove Assad. Which is it? Plan A or we’re LYING about the plan? They are either blatant liars or senile if they believe it. Step 1: bomb pre-announced targets. Step 2: leave Assad in power with 250,000 kg of randomly dispersed CW, to which we want to deny access by regime…. to be accessible to and protected by…. Al Queda??? The “nationalist rebels” fromTurkey, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, & Afghanistan??? Hmmm. Well, we better go in with boots on the ground after all… WE COULDN”T (Didn’t? Refused to?) ANTICIPATE that our arrogant morality policing could make matters worse, because WE’RE AMERICA, and I’M OBAMA .
    But since our ONLY objective is protecting Syrian PEOPLE from more gas attacks is to put 75,000 of our soldiers on the ground so THEY will be exposed to the CW, regardless of who has it.
    These are venal politicians with an agenda. The enthusiasm they are bringing to their false moral crusade is scary, and a little mentally unbalanced. I don’t see that same enthusiasm for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Maybe he can convince these amateurs to stand down, from an ill-advised suicide mission for the military and the American People. Time to review the impeachment clause for all of them.

  • Charles Temm

    Jeff Flake is starting to be a real disappointment, Corker is a surprise too on the yes side.

    McCain is no surprise nor are the solidly previously anti war Dems (principles?) for whom party trumps everything.

  • Charles Temm

    there is no plan beyond some missiles to let the world know our Great Leader finally realizes his babbling has some costs…

    We simply have no dog in this fight, the so called rebels are at least as bad as Assad and according to Obama/Clinton just a couple of years ago, Syria was a friend we could work with…

  • Emily

    McCain sold out as a captive – made lots of videos, according to a group of fellow captives. As an admiral’s son he had it easy – no coming up through the ranks. He started out as a fake populist to get a following, and then energetically sold his soul so often it’s on the back lot as a clunker. He’s the fella who originally sponsord S501, the bill for Monsanto that would have made your home grown tomato a federal felony with its own overfunded police force with unlimited powers to find that tomato anywhere in your house.

  • FreeMktMonkey

    There may be something here and maybe not. I suspect there is but in all fairness there are not sufficient data points to draw the conclusions you do. Certainly bears watching and further attention. That picture (worth many words)? Statesmen? Or Hucksters?

  • rez

    They’ve cut spending to Headstart, WIC, Food Stamps (which quite a few of our soldiers are on btw) and Section 8 housing in the name of balancing the budget, but they are willing to spend millions/trillions on another war? What about the innocent people they will be killing in the name of collateral damage when they bomb Syria? Is this really helping them? Worry about America first and for pete’s sake, vote these idiots out of office and impeach the President!

  • Venus Maku Thokchom
  • Phil Eckert

    A disgrace

  • Jermain

    Not just military families, the families who are in Syria will also suffer for generations.

  • novictim

    Every vote in Congress can be closely correlated with the degree of lobbyist financial contributions to Congressional Campaigns.

    Democracy has been dead for some time now.

    Fight for campaign finance reform today or you will be manning the barricades tomorrow.

  • JJ

    USA used Agent Orange. Chemical weapons in the wrong hands indeed.

  • novictim

    “Yes, let’s study this.”
    -Roman Senate, 44BCE

  • MewkaKazami

    You Americans should rename the Defense industry. You obviously never used it to defend the U.S.

  • StalinsLastStand

    The whole thing is incredibly misleading. They use raw dollar amounts rather than an average of dollars per year. And then they use a time period that isolates out the senators who voted no. That’s like looking at two groups of people who both work for Wal-Mart, one worked there for 20 years, and the other for 5 and then saying “Over the last twenty years these people have received 400% more money from Wal-Mart”

    It’s intellectually dishonest.

    Ron Johnson became a Senator in 2011

    Chris Murphy became a Senator in 2013 (though was in the House for a term before that)

    Rand Paul – 2011

    Jim Risch – 2009

    Marco Rubio – 2011

    Udall – 2009

  • Shasta

    Rubio voted against the senate authorization bill. I am no longer a fan of Marco, but he did the right thing on that vote.

  • Doug

    Just a thought but maybe they have the most money because they are the most likely to vote in favor. Defense industries put their money where they are most likely to get results.

  • ObiRyaNKenobi

    I realize that this comment will be highly unpopular here, but this just isn’t that much money to these guys… Yeah, 175 grand seems like a lot of cash to me (and perhaps you as well), but these guys are senators. They’re filthy rich! Must be other motivations (maybe political or ideological, or perhaps merely economic, but from an as yet undisclosed source). At any rate, I find this article unpersuasive at best.

  • duckmeister

    The military industrial complex (MIC) is running this country and I might add running it into the ground. We spend more money on defense than all the other countries in the world combined. With all this money spent, our Southern border has been basically unprotected for decades. So why are we spending all this money on defense if we are not securing our only border that needs securing? Because the MIC who really runs this country is not really concerned about defending this nation but they are very concerned about the trillions of dollars they can spend on defense and line their collective pockets with dollars. Do you have any idea how much it cost to produce one cruise missile, ship it, store it, train personnel to use it, use it and then replace it? You are talking millions of dollars and then multiply that times thousands and you get the idea. The MIC are the same people who bring us the $850 commode, the $300 screwdriver.

  • Henry

    When is shit like this considered corruption and/or treason?

  • Righteous asshole

    Hey If I suck a Dick doe this count? I have no money

  • Peter Horak

    100 000 already died. They already suffer and they will suffer even more, regardless if we stick our fingers in that soup.

  • Peter Horak

    CIA helped Saddam Husein with gas attacks on Iran. Where was the outrage then ?

  • nfojunky

    The government isn’t really interested in the opinions of Americans. 51% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria (the largest opposition to a military campaign in 20 years: http://bit.ly/17W4T39), and yet that won’t stop them.

    The US government is run by corporate interests, and this time corporate interests want to bomb Syria.

  • Patricia Dryburgh

    There was a film released some years ago called “Lord Of War” which detailed just how those who manufacture the means to wage war profit, and profit HUGE. They rejoice whenever a new “conflict” erupts, anywhere in the world. See it.
    The rationale seem to be, so what, if thousands of people die and billions of dollars in damage is inflicted?? This, like any other war, is about the money to be made.
    Patriotism? How does killing strangers in a foreign country demonstrate patriotism??

  • .a p u

    Can the situation in Syria be resolved without military intervention? Personally I don’t think it can. Chemical weapons being used on innocent people is something that NEEDS to be rectified. That being said, I hate the idea that companies relish the thought of profiting from this so much that they’d push votes in they’re favor. The question is can we as a species stand idly by while innocent human beings are paying the price for our inability too act? I have the utmost respect for anyone in the armed forces and as much as we shouldn’t actively seek to put them in harm’s way I believe that (the ludicrous political situation aside) there are people in need of help and we are in a situation to help. You know damn well if the roles were reversed you’d want someone to come help you.

  • gregoryagogo

    DISGRACEFUL.

  • notanotherSHEEPBITCH

    whats the point? once they take it back.. in 10 years the same shit will happen… that is why democracy is doomed… the only light at the end of the tunnel is your own demise, but hey living as a millionaire for 20 years or living as a peasant for 60.. easy answer.

  • notanotherSHEEPBITCH

    dont you know that people who contribute to our governments financial standings are the RIGHT people.. just like the laws say… citizens are human… everyone else is just a mouse who wants our cheese and must be destroyed (even if that cheese is in their home country and in their home…. the fact that we want it trumps their right to live

  • notanotherSHEEPBITCH

    your missing the point that military families mean nothing to the government… just like the military man fighting for his country… the only thing they mean is a $ sign… and when there is more money to be made from that $ sign to die than to live then so be it cus its for the *greater good* and that being for the people running the government to stay in power. its the same reason we dont help every homeless person we see. because theres things more important than people dying.. which is keeping our financial stability. its happened for thousands of years… its why there is a word called “war” and why CALL OF DUTY is the #1 game in the world. (AND IM FUCKED FOR POSTING THIS BECAUSE IT ALL GOES BACK TO ME AND I PROBABLY WONT BE LET INTO THE USA THE NEXT TIME I LEAVE… AND YES BECAUE IM NOT A US CITIZEN BUT HAVE LIVED HERE FOR 20 YEARS AND LIVE AMERICA… BUT NOT ITS LEADERSHIP AND DECISIONS. BUT THEN AGAIN WITHOUT THAT HOSTILE FUCKED UP WAY OF RESPONDING TO EVERYONE NON-AMERICAN IS WHY WE HAVE SO MUCH HERE IN THE USA… BECAUSE MONEY TALKS. :) GG NO RE BITCHES

  • notanotherSHEEPBITCH

    IM SORRY IF IM WRONG BUT I FIGURE A CITIZEN(CIVILIAN) IS WORTH A CERTAIN AMOUNT ALIVE THAN DEAD.. BECAUSE SUICIDE IS ILLEGAL BECAUSE KEEPING YOU ALIVE MEANS MORE MONEY FROM YOU… SAME AS A CITIZEN (NON-CIVILIAN) MEANS A DIFFERENT AMOUNT OF HOMEY KEPT ALIVE OR SENT TO FIGHT IN A WAR… EVERYTHING HAS A MONEY ASPECT… AND JUST LIKE TAXES AND TAX-LAWYERS WE HAVE DEATH-LAWYERS WHO HAVE MADE IT OK FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO KILL ITS OWN CITIZENS BY SENDING THEM TO BULLSHIT WARS BECAUSE IT WILL GENERATE MORE MONEY FOR THE GOVERNMENT…. AND IF YOU THINK OFKINGS AND SUCH ITS THE SAME… A KING RATHER SEND 1,000,000 PEOPLE TO THEIR DEATH THAN LOSE. LIFE MEANS NOTHING AND ITS SAD BECAUSE THE SHEEP IN AMERICA THINK THEIRS MEANS SOMETHING. BUT ITS THE SAME IN EVERY COUNTRY.

  • notanotherSHEEPBITCH

    I JUST LOVED HOW FAST THEY HUNG SADAMM… BEFORE HE CAN GIVE AWAY SECRETS THAT WOULD MAKE PEOPLE IN THE USA THROW UP WHO THINK THEIR THE CREAM OF THE CROP BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN DRILLED FROM THEIR BIRTH… SOMETHING TELLS ME IM GONNA HAVE A PROBLEM WHEN I TRY TO RE-ENTER THE USA IN 6 MONTHS

  • Jason Goodsell

    The chemical weapons were probably dispersed by the rebels to get U.S military to back their action.
    It would take a lot to try to get the attention of the world that they did.
    The only ones that seem to be taking the bate is the U.S congress.

  • Frisco1522

    Isn’t this proof that we need to rid ourselves of career politicians? These people couldn’t care less what their constituents want or why they sent them up there. I’m really surprised that our Obama suppository, Claire McCaskill, isn’t on the list.

  • Jeri M. Burns

    I understand and support the treaty condition allowing no country to use chemical weapons, but, WHO does the U.S. want to bomb? They will undoubtedly also hit innocent civilians and consider them “acceptable collateral damage”. Haven’t these people suffered enough? We need to stay the “HECK” out of this and try to fix problems in our own country!!!

  • Lucifer Tau

    What — Cardin voted YES?? Why is a MD senator getting so much defense money? There’s NSA and Annapolis — what else? ?

    Damn.

  • a friend of Jesus

    Like I said…..They’re all on the take!!! They have no intentions on listening to public outrage. It’s all about padding their pockets! Not to worry, God has a special place for these kinds of people and It’s Below HELL!!!!!

  • discharged

    MC Cain is a disgrace !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kerry too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ol grouch

    Not that I believe anything that I say here will be taken to heart, but here goes. DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN SYRIA. First, those people are crazy. They have been killing each other for centuries. Point in case the continued violence in Iraq. ( Lets not even talk about Afganistan) Secondly, what guarantees are there that ANY group replacing Assad would be any better? Thirdly, where is the outrage in other “Muslim” nations? Where is their visable support for ANY action?

    personally I view Assad as SCUM, but he is their scum. It is their problem to solve. If in the process they kill each other off…so be it!

    As a nation we have become addicted to resorting, with armed forces, to any issue facing the world. Even when it doesn’t concern us. And unti we get big bussiness out of government there is no hope of progress. Until then we will be enjoying the best government money can buy.

  • Michael Harris

    Pretty weak argument and cherry picking facts. The top three in terms of money did vote yes, but Barrasso Rubio and Murphy also voted no and received over $60K-$80Kish, so you can’t really say causality for campaign contributions effected the vote. If that was true, Barbara Boxer, Flake and Coons would have voted no, while the three I just mentioned would have voted yes.

    Is money and lobbying a problem in politics? Yes, was it a problem on this vote? No and the data proves it out.

  • Michael Shumate

    My body will vouch for that. I have prostate cancer from the exposure. Thank you, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and USA.

  • Rick Phinney

    All these programs need to be cut, I know it is not the answer any of us want but the government spending has to be cut and cut a lot. If we could ever truly get a balanced budget and reduce taxes we could get the economy going and put people back to work. Secure our boarders, get out of the Middle East, balance the budget and get America back to doing what it does best, let people work, support their families and live life…

  • rez

    If they would make huge cuts to military spending, start adding huge tariffs to people importing products from other countries, do away with NAFTA, and make all of those in Washington adhere to the same standards as the rest of us (i.e. Affordable healthcare act), there would be jobs created in this country and those who really need help (for legitimate reasons) would receive it and those who want to do the right thing and work and support themselves and their families would have the ability to do that. Have you looked for a job in the current economy? The jobs aren’t there.
    They don’t want to create jobs Rick, they want the low to moderate income graduating High Schoolers to have no choice but to join the military because they can’t afford to go to college. There is big money to be made off of war for most of the current administration, that is another thing that needs to be done away with. Our military should exist only for the purpose of defending our own safety. We can’t keep getting involved in other peoples problems and running up that debt for our childrens, childrens children.

  • Ed

    This is why the States must take back their right to appoint US Senators instead of them being elected by the people. There is to much corruption and it must stop.

  • jamesdar

    Surely the “king” of defence industry contributions was Dick Cheney. According to his tax returns (publically available on the White House website when he was VP), he and his wife together owned some 4m shares in Halliburton. As we all know, Halliburton was awarded huge (and very profitable) contracts for work in Iraq, which would have increased the value of those shares enormously.

  • KATIE29020

    The govt should be taking better care of our returning veterans. Any extra cash should be allocated for the veterans. Pay up!!

  • KATIE29020

    Navy veterans refer to John McBlame as a “clusterf**k”. Everything he touches turns into a disaster. I don’t know how he keeps getting elected in AZ with the border so porous….his wife’s money buys voting machines?

  • June Wilson

    I don’t know why I ever liked John McCain,I sure don’t now. I respect him ONLY for his military service. NOT as a U.S. Senator.

  • Indi Pendi

    thank you watchdog.org for taking a truly independent stance. Sure beats watching Gary Cooper’s son talk C Amnpurr about how she’s reported on all the recent “woehs” so she knows what’s best for everyone. And it’s refreshing to see peace reporting from some source other than the usual socialist front news orgs and the advocacy groups that feed them.

  • Paul Hosse

    I think it’s all about corporate control of government; not just our government, other governments. The bottom line is, well, the bottom line and how to improve it. Government serves merely as the conduit. People are seen as resourses and resourses are there to be exploited.

  • KimJongnotsoill

    It would also have been interesting to note how much in contributions both Obama and Kerry received fron these same contractors

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