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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Politcians / Lawmakers Heavily Invested in Defense

Lawmakers Heavily Invested in Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group.

Not all the companies in which lawmakers invested are typical defense contractors. Corporations such as PepsiCo, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson have at one point received defense-related contracts, notes the report by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

The center's review of lawmakers' 2006 financial disclosure statements suggests that members' holdings could pose a conflict of interest as they decide the fate of Iraq war spending. Several members earning money from these contractors have plum committee or leadership assignments, including Democratic Sen. John Kerry, independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.

The study found that more Republicans than Democrats hold stock in defense companies, but that the Democrats who are invested had significantly more money at stake. In 2006, for example, Democrats held at least $3.7 million in military-related investments, compared to Republican investments of $577,500.

Overall, 151 members hold investments worth $78.7 million to $195.5 million in companies that receive defense contracts that are worth at least $5 million. These investments earned them anywhere between $15.8 million and $62 million between 2004 and 2006, the center concludes.

It is unclear how many members still hold these investments and exactly how much money has been made. Disclosure reports for 2007 aren't due until this May. Also, members are required to report only a general range of their holdings.

According to the report, presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain did not report any defense-related holdings on their filings; Hillary Rodham Clinton did note holdings in such companies as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007. All three candidates are members of the Senate.

Earning dividends from companies tied to the military "could be problematic" for lawmakers who oversee defense policy and budgeting, noted the center's Lindsay Renick Mayer. Avoiding every company with a military contract, however, would not be easy for an investor.

"So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defense contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them," Mayer wrote

Kerry, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is identified as earning the most — at least $2.6 million between 2004 and 2006 from investments worth up to $38.2 million.

Spokesman David Wade said Kerry, who staunchly opposes the war in Iraq, is one of many beneficiaries of family trusts that he doesn't control. Wade also noted that Kerry does not sit on the Appropriations Committee, which has direct control of the defense budget.

"He has a 24-year Senate record of working and voting in the best interests of our men and women in the military, not of any defense contractors," Wade said.

Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee, held a considerably smaller share at $51,000. A spokesman said the senator, who supports continued operations in Iraq, is "careful to make his policy decisions based only on what is best for the country."

A spokesman for Blunt, R-Mo., a senior member of House GOP leadership who held at least $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock in 2006, said the insinuation that lawmakers' votes might be affected by their portfolios is "offensive." Like Lieberman, Blunt has been a fierce supporter of the war.

"I don't pretend to speak for other offices, but I am fairly certain that no member would consider their personal finances when voting on issues as important as sending our men and women in uniform into harm's way," said Blunt spokesman Nick Simpson. The Lockheed Martin stock was given to Blunt's wife by her mother, he said.


The Associated Press: Lawmakers Heavily Invested in Defense


April 03, 2008 | When Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S military officer in Iraq, comes to Capitol Hill next week to brief Congress, he will be addressing lawmakers who have more than just a political stake in the five-year war.

Along with their colleagues in the House and Senate, the politicians who will get a status report from the general and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq have as much as $196 million of their own money invested in companies doing business with the Department of Defense, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has calculated. From aircraft and weapons manufacturers to producers of medical supplies and soft drinks, the investment portfolios of more than a quarter of Congress—and of countless constituents—include holdings in companies paid billions of dollars each month to support America's military in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Investors: Lawmakers with the most money invested in companies with Department of Defense contracts

Member of Congress Minimum Value of Investment Maximum Value of Investment
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass)
$28,872,067
$38,209,020
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
$12,081,050
$49,140,000
Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC)
$9,232,037
$37,105,000
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis)
$5,207,668
$7,612,653
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif)
$2,684,050
$6,260,000
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich)
$2,469,029
$8,360,000
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa)
$2,000,002
$2,000,002
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis)
$1,365,004
$5,800,000
Rep. Kenny Ewell Marchant (R-Texas)
$1,163,231
$1,163,231
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas)
$1,000,001
$5,000,000

Includes investments in companies with DOD contracts of $5 million or more, according to 2006 data on FedSpending.org. Members of Congress must report their personal finances annually. Holdings shown here were as of December 31, 2006.


Chairs of other defense-related committees are similarly invested. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had at least $51,000 invested in these companies in 2006. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had at least $30,000, including between $1,001 and $15,000 invested in defense company Raytheon, which has one of its major facilities right outside of Berman's district. According to Berman's office, that holding is in a trust the congressman inherited from his parents.

"It's a couple thousand dollars," Berman's spokeswoman said. "We're not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a teeny investment, and he inherited it. He didn't make it."

In the case of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, his stock in Pepsico, which is worth at least $1 million, is actually held by his wife, who is on the food and beverage corporation's board of directors. Pepsico received $187 million in defense contracts in 2006, according to OMB Watch. "His wife's separate holdings have no influence," Rockefeller spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said. "Sen. Rockefeller, out of an abundance of caution to ensure there's no conflict of interest, has held all his assets in a blind trust since he was the governor of West Virginia."

Members of Congress who want to make a public statement about their opposition to the Iraq war don't have to divest from businesses that may be profiting from the persistent conflict, some financial planners say. As the Iraq war continues and companies supporting the effort continue to make money, lawmakers will have an easier time justifying their investments in corporations that are known for producing food and clothing—companies whose defense contracts represent a tiny fraction of their overall revenue.

Many of the Defense Department's contracts "will likely be there whether you're in a war or not," said Cheryl Smith, executive vice president and senior portfolio manager at Trillium Asset Management Corporation, a firm that screens companies' policies for socially responsible investors. "A standing army still needs soft drinks, toothpaste and clothing. If [the lawmaker's] position is there should not be a military at all, then you might want to exclude anyone with a defense contract, but if they want to stand up against the war," they should avoid investing in companies with weapons contracts, specifically.

And there are members of Congress invested in those companies—major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Honeywell. Forty-seven current members of Congress (or 9 percent of all members of the House and Senate) were invested in 2006 in companies that are primarily in the defense sector, for a total investment of between $4.2 million and $8 million. The average share price of these corporations today is nearly twice what it was in 2004.

Hawks and Doves Are Similarly Invested in Defense

While Democrats are more likely to advocate for ending the Iraq war sooner than Republicans, as a group they have more of their own money invested in America's military efforts. In 2006 Democrats had at least $3.7 million invested in the defense sector alone, compared to Republicans' $577,500. More Republicans, however, held stock in defense companies in 2006—28 of them, compared to 19 Democrats.

According to a spokesman for one of these investors, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who held at least $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock in 2006, it's "insulting" to make a connection between personal investments and a lawmaker's job. "Congressman Blunt does not consider his personal finances when voting for legislation, especially on issues as weighty as sending our troops into harm's way," Blunt spokesman Nick Simpson said. (Update: After the posting of this story, Simpson added that the stock is an investment held by Blunt's wife, who received it from her mother as a gift.)

Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), who has spoken out against the administration's policy in Iraq and belongs to the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, had at least $50,000 invested in Boeing in 2006. Farr's office did not respond to Capital Eye's inquiries about this investment and whether he still holds the stock.

Other lawmakers have decided to sell their shares in defense companies. In 2006, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had $1,000 in Honeywell and $1,000 in United Technologies but has since gotten rid of those holdings, which represented a tiny percentage of his net worth, according to his office. According to her presidential personal financial disclosures, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) had stock in some defense companies, such as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007. Neither of the remaining presidential hopefuls, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, reported such holdings on their filings.



Doesn't this just make you sick????
here is a 3 year chart of the defense sector:
(click for larger chart)


looks like our fake dual party system is getting paid from our blood.





here are some links to news about troop buildups around Iran:
from whatdoesitmean.com

Russian Foreign Ministry Officials are reported to be ‘alarmed’ today over a ‘presentation’ made by the United States War Leaders to President Putin at this weeks NATO summit in Romania and which details the Americans plan to begin a nuclear attack against Irans atomic facilities in the next two weeks.

Most disturbing of these reports, according to Foreign Ministry Analysts, are the United States ‘offers and threats’ towards Russia to ‘remain neutral’ in this conflict or face the combined weight of the American and EU central banks deliberate collapsing of the Western banking system, and US dollar, and which is estimated will cause the loss of nearly $800 billion of Russian foreign reserves.

To the ‘offers’ presented to President Putin for keeping Russia out of this war, these reports continue, will be NATO’s rejection of Ukraine and Georgia membership into the Western Military Alliance and the ending of the planned US Missile Shield being planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

In what, sadly, passes for diplomacy these days with the United States, this ‘presentation’ to President Putin is eerily reminiscent of the offer made to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan prior to the US invasion of their country after their rejection of the American offer, and which French news sources reported was stated, “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."

To the likelihood of the US carrying out their brutal expansion of their war against the Muslim peoples of the World with a nuclear attack upon Iran there remains today little doubt as Saudi Arabia has ordered their people to prepare for nuclear war, and as we can read as reported by Iran’s Press TV News Service, and which says:

"Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to counter any 'radioactive hazards' which may result from a US strike on Iran's nuclear plants.

Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom's high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.

As a result of the Shura ruling, the Saudi government will start the implementation of 'national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the Kingdom following expert warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors'."

Israel is, likewise, said to be preparing for this new war, and as we can read as reported by Israeli News Sources, and which state: "Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized on Sunday evening the plans for a national emergency drill, which is scheduled to take place in two weeks time."

Russian Military Analysts, in these reports, further state that with a US nuclear strike against Iran, Israel will, also, launch a simultaneous against Syria, and as we can read, as reported by Israel’s Ynet News Service, the Syrian Nation is preparing for:

"Syria is preparing for a comprehensive Israeli strike which will be combined with an attack on Hizbullah, sources in Damascus have told the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. The sources, which refused to reveal their identity, reported that Syria was closely monitoring the movement of Israeli forces along the northern border.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that Damascus viewed the Israeli media reports and statements made by senior Israel Defense Forces officials as incitement and attempts to prepare the Israeli and global public opinion for a war against Syria.

In addition to the military preparations, the sources said, Damascus has raised its security alert level for fear that Israeli forces would infiltrate its territories through one of its bordering countries, mainly referring to Lebanon.

Over the past few weeks, the Syrians have stationed three armored divisions, special forces and nine mechanized infantry divisions opposite Lebanon's western valley, as the Syrians estimate that a ground Israeli invasion may take place in that area



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