The Real Rogues
Behind the Star Wars missile defense system
by Kevin Martin, Rachel Glick, Rachel Ries, Tim
Nafziger, and Mark Swier
Z magazine, September 2000
Like a bad sequel, the proposed Star Wars missile defense
system has come back to dominate the national security debate
this election year. This is not Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense
Initiative (SDI), the failed scheme to build an anti-missile shield
to protect the U.S. from a massive nuclear attack by the now-defunct
Soviet Union. What's being proposed now under the name National
Missile Defense (NMD) is a Son of Star Wars, a more modest version
meant to protect against a limited attack by "rogue states"
armed with just a few nuclear missiles or an accidental missile
launch by Russia.
Much of the debate has centered on money: should we deploy
the very expensive or the extremely expensive version? In recent
months, as allegations of testing fraud have come to light and
another Star Wars missile test failed, the debate has broadened.
Many policy-makers and mainstream media pundits are now suggesting
the system is not ready, and President Clinton, due to decide
this summer or fall on whether to move forward with deployment
of NMD, should leave that call for his successor to make.
Yet one crucial area has not been discussed: the real rogues-military
corporations-driving the Star Wars deployment decision. To understand
their role, one must first look at the arguments against Star
Star Wars won't work: Independent physicists from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and the Union of Concerned Scientists
have analyzed the Star Wars radar system and concluded it will
not be able to distinguish actual warheads from decoys, chaff,
and other countermeasures an attacker would employ to confuse
or overwhelm the system. Star Wars testers tacitly acknowledge
this-their tests involve a single Mylar balloon decoy instead
of the dozens or hundreds they would surely face in an actual
attack. Even with the tests rigged to succeed two out of three
tests have failed. The third "succeeded" by a fluke
when the interceptor missile honed in on the decoy balloon which
just happened to be in the path of the mock warhead.
Recognition that the Star Wars system is not viable is growing.
Just before the most recent missile test, 50 Nobel Prize-winning
scientists signed a letter to President Clinton urging him to
reject Star Wars deployment. In June, 53 members of the House
of Representatives signed a letter calling on the FBI to conduct
an investigation of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
(BMDO) over allegations of fraud in the Star Wars testing program.
Unfortunately, in what's likely to be the definitive Congressional
vote on Star Wars this year, the Senate rejected Senator Dick
Durbin's (D-IL) amendment to force the Pentagon to conduct more
realistic tests, featuring more decoys and countermeasures, and
establish an independent panel to review test results. The vote
was almost entirely along party lines, with Republicans voting
overwhelmingly to kill the amendment.
Star Wars is outrageously expensive: Even by the standards
of the military, the Star Wars price tag is stupefying. Since
the early 1950s, the country has spent over $100 billion on ballistic
missile defense, $70 billion of it since Reagan's SDI proposal,
with next to nothing to show for it. The Congressional Budget
Office estimates the current Star Wars plan at $60 billion, but
a more robust land-, sea- and space-based scheme favored by many
Republicans would cost more on the order of $240 billion. All
of that is before the inevitable delays and cost overruns.
Star Wars will re-start the Nuclear Arms Race: Russia has
clearly stated that its ratification of the START II arms reduction
treaty, which would retire several thousand missiles, would be
nullified if Clinton opts to deploy Star Wars without Russia's
consent. Even worse, Russia has threatened to beef up its offensive
nuclear capability, possibly including a return to multiple warhead
China has fewer than 20 1950s-era nuclear-armed missiles,
and it worries a U.S. Star Wars system could thwart its deterrent
China could go to over 200 modern missiles much more quickly
and cheaply than the U.S. could deploy a missile defense system.
Should China do this, India and then Pakistan would likely feel
compelled to respond in kind, exacerbating the already tense and
potentially disastrous nuclear arms race in South Asia. As French
President Jacques Chirac-no nuclear dove but an opponent of Star
Wars-has stated, "If you look at world history, ever since
men began waging war, you will see that there's a permanent race
between the sword and the shield. The sword always wins. The more
improvements that are made to the shield, the more improvements
are made to the sword."
Russia and China are also concerned that Star Wars will not
be a mere "defensive" system, but could be part of a
U.S. first strike strategy. As U.S. military strategists constantly
point out, capabilities rather than intentions should drive defense
planning. The proposed Star Wars system could provide the U.S.
with an offensive, first-strike capability by rendering harmless
Russia's or China's retaliatory capacity. The rational response
by these countries would be to increase their offensive nuclear
Threat from "rogue states" is wildly overstated:
In the past few years, the State Department's "rogue state"-recently
changed to "states of concern"-doctrine has become the
centerpiece of the argument for Star Wars. The intelligence community,
in an extreme worst-case scenario, cites North Korea as the most
immediate threat, possibly having ballistic missiles by 2005.
In reality, North Korea has frozen its missile testing program
for nearly two years.
Moreover, during a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir
Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong II agreed to completely end
his country's missile development program if other countries would
send up its satellites. This offer came shortly after Kim's historic
summit meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, which
resulted in real prospects for reconciliation between the two
In Iran, a new leader is working to reform the country towards
a more democratic and free path, and the U. S. and Iran have been
improving low-level cultural and economic relations. The third
"rogue state," Iraq, is so devastated by ten years 0
U.S. sanctions and bombing it cannot maintain it sewer systems,
let alone build an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. None of
these "rogue states" have ever flight-tested an ICBM.
It really isn't "rogue nations" that are driving
the rush to deploy a Star Wars "missile defense" system
that won't work, will cost a large fortune, and will re-ignite
the arms race. The Star Wars profiteers-Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
TRW and Raytheon, that together accounted for 60 percent of all
missile defense contracts in the last two years-constitute the
real Rogues Gallery.
Boeing Corporation, the "Lead System Integrator"
or main contractor on Star Wars, is responsible for ensuring that
all component NMD parts and systems are developed and integrated
successfully. A $14 billion taxpayer-subsidized purchase of McDonnell
Douglas in 1997 made Boeing the country's second largest war profiteer
and NASA's top contractor. Boeing is also the nation's largest
exporter with over half its annual sales of military and civilian
aviation equipment crossing international borders.
Boeing has a long history of corporate criminality. In 1974,
Boeing settled out of court with the Securities & Exchange
Commission (SEC) over payments of $54 million made to 18 countries
that subsequently brought Boeing aircraft sales to $943 million.
At the time, Boeing claimed that the fees were legitimate as commission
or consulting fees. In the complaint filed by the SEC, Boeing
was accused of "employing devices, schemes, and artifices
to defraud, making untrue statements of material facts and omitting
to state material facts." At this time the SEC also alleged
that Boeing spent at least $27 million paying off 7 foreign governmental
officials who were involved with their aircraft sales.
Boeing admitted to bribing foreign officials in the 1970s
and 1980s but then returned to claiming its innocence in the l990s
even after a former employee, Assistant Navy Secretary Melvyn
Paisley, was convicted in the massive III Wind weapons contractor
scandal. Boeing, Raytheon, Hughes, and other contractors conspired
to rig bids to win Pentagon contracts. Paisley was found guilty
of bribery, improper contracts, and diverting contracts to a firm
he secretly controlled.
In 1994, Boeing agreed to fork over close to $75 million in
order to avoid criminal prosecution which, at that time, was the
largest non-criminal Pentagon payback case in history. According
to government statements, Boeing's settlement included $52 million
for overcharging computer-related work, $14 million for overcharging
on non-domestic government work, and $9 million for hazardous-waste
disposal costs. This year Boeing has been sued by the Justice
Department for allegedly concealing a subcontractor's billing
fraud totaling "millions of dollars in fraudulent costs."
Boeing has also been charged with knowingly selling the Army
defective parts and overcharging the Air Force thousands of dollars
for minor supplies. In 1989, Boeing settled for $11 million on
one such charge. This summer, the Justice Department is seeking
$20 million in damages for improper installation of parts on the
AH-64A Apache helicopters.
Lastly, Boeing's record of employee treatment is simply miserable,
running the gamut of labor transgressions. In 1998, Boeing began
a lay-off cycle which to date has cost more than 20,000 workers
their jobs. Since the 1980s, employees have filed a fairly steady
stream of lawsuits complaining of the effects of toxins in their
work environment, but few of these cases ever make it to court.
A racial discrimination suit was settled for $15 million last
November. In this suit, which represented 12,000 current and 7,000
past African-American employees, Boeing was accused of hostile
treatment and promoting less-qualified white employees. The U.S.
Labor Department, which investigated the case, accused Boeing
of interference by denying inspectors access to necessary records.
Lockheed Martin is responsible for building the NMD Payload
Launch vehicle and components of the Space-Based Infrared System.
The largest war contractor in the world, Lockheed Martin rakes
in about $18.5 billion in annual Department of Defense (DoD) contracts,
making it the top Pentagon contractor as well.
Like many mega-corporations, Lockheed claims to make decisions
based on high moral principles. The company website lists six
ethical principles by which they supposedly do business: honesty,
integrity, respect, trust, responsibility, and citizenship. An
examination of the company's record reveals quite different principles:
* Principle 1: Contract violations-In May, a $4.25 million
settlement agreement was reached between the Government and Lockheed
Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems. Lockheed Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) funds were improperly used while performing
a FMS contract with Egypt to upgrade four sonar systems used by
the Egyptian military.
* Principle 2: Foreign Corrupt Practices- Lockheed was convicted
of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) during the
sale of three cargo planes to Egypt in 1993 and was fined a total
of $24.8 million.
* Principle 3: Conspiracy and Retaliation-In 1996, Lockheed
was sued by a former employee who alleged a conspiracy to prevent
him from testifying during the 1993 FCPA trial mentioned above
and then retaliated against him by firing him after he testified.
* Principle 4: Bribery-Lockheed documents were subpoenaed
by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles last year during an investigation
into a possible kickback payment to a consultant on a 1990 sale
of air defense radar to Taiwan. This is the latest in a history
of bribery and kickbacks dating to the late 1970s when Lockheed
admitted to paying $22 million in bribes to win contracts overseas.
* Principle 5: Racism-This year, workers at Lockheed's plant
in Marietta, Georgia, filed a lawsuit charging Lockheed with racial
and other forms of discrimination. The workers claimed that corporate
officials systematically passed over the group of mostly black
workers for promotions, discriminated in pay, and fostered a hostile
work environment. In one case a worker whose supervisor was a
member of the Ku Klux Klan with his robes openly displayed in
the office, was forced to get a pass to go to the restroom and
had to be escorted there. In another case a worker found a hangman's
noose in his workplace. The case is still pending.
* Principle 6: Payoffs for Layoffs-When Lockheed merged with
Martin Marietta in 1995 they used U.S. taxpayer money to fund
the $1 billion cost of plant shutdowns and employee relocations
and then fired 19,000 taxpaying workers. During the same merger,
the two companies rewarded their top officials with $31 million
in federal money, one-third of the total bonus package they gave
Finally, as a special ministry to the underprivileged citizens
of our country, Lockheed's second most significant business after
weapons peddling is management of for-profit state welfare departments
and private prisons.
According to its website, TRW has been involved in missile
defense research for over 50 years. TRW is the lead innovator
of what it calls the "center of the National Missile Defense
system," the Battle Management Command, Control and Communications
(BMC3) system, which integrates the computer systems that are
supposed to differentiate between nuclear warheads and Mylar decoy
balloons. As the record of the first three tests indicates, the
BMC3 system has been a complete failure.
Even more disturbing, this year former TRW senior engineer
Nira Schwartz blew the whistle on her former employer, stating
publicly that TRW blatantly lied about rampant test result failures
to the DoD. "It's not a defense of the United States,"
said Dr. Schwartz. "It's a conspiracy to allow them to milk
the government. They are creating for themselves a job for life."
Indeed, all the "big four" contractors see Star Wars
as a Golden Goose that will secure lucrative contracts and boost
their sagging stock prices. Schwartz has filed a lawsuit against
TRW, which is pending.
TRW has been the target of numerous false claims suits and
anti-trust lawsuits, including one in 1984 when TRW was forced
to pay the government $17 million to compensate for overcharges.
Most recently, in 1998 the Justice Department joined former senior
TRW financial executive Richard Bagley in a lawsuit against TRW
for defrauding the government of over $50 million on various space
contracts throughout the 1990s. Not coincidentally, "at a
time when we continue to see wrongdoing by large defense contractors
and their executives, the defense industry is approaching Congress
to water down the False Claims Act," said Bagley's attorney
Eric Havian. "Their proposed amendments would make it almost
impossible to bring cases such as [this]."
Raytheon's pieces of the Star Wars pie include the Exoatmospheric
Kill Vehicle (EKV) and X-radar. These are key NMD components.
The EKV is the interceptor that's supposed to destroy the incoming
missile, and the X-radar system is supposed to find the EKV's
target by discriminating between real warheads and decoys.
Like most military contractors, Raytheon knows how to throw
its political weight around through large campaign contributions
and a full-time lobbying staff of 19 people. And like its fellow
rogues, Raytheon has an extensive record of illegal and unethical
conduct. The company has been involved in civil suits concerning
labor law violations, civil false claims violations, fraud, and
at least one criminal violation:
* Spying and stealing documents from rival corporations: A
May 1999 Reuters report revealed that Raytheon "will pay
$3 million to a competitor, AGES Group, and purchase $13 million
worth of AGES aircraft parts to settle allegations that a security
firm hired by Raytheon
* Military eavesdropped on and stole documents from AGES."
This happened after AGES Group won a government contract that
had been held by Raytheon.
* Bribery: In November 1995, transcripts from a wiretap of
Julio Cesar Gomes dos Santos, a special envoy to the Brazilian
President Fernando Enrique Cardoso, indicated that Raytheon's
lobbyists may have bribed a Brazilian senator to gain backing
for a $1.4 billion radar project.
* False Claims: In October 1994, Raytheon Co. paid $4 million
to settle a U.S. government claim that the company inflated a
defense contract for antimissile radar.
* Securities Fraud: According to a complaint filed last year
by the law firm of Pomerantz, Haudek, Block, Grossman & Gross,
Raytheon and two of the company's senior officers allegedly failed
to disclose in its financial statements that it was violating
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) by engaging in
a systematic contract "acceleration" policy, under which
the company was prematurely recording revenue on contingent sales
contracts prior to actual performance.
It is these war profiteer corporations, not small, impoverished
Asian and Arab countries on the other side of the world, that
are the real rogues driving the rush to deploy a Star Wars missile
system. Their massive collective rap sheet has no affect on their
ability to push their agenda through Congress. Together, these
rogue corporations have spent about $40 million on campaign contributions
and lobbying expenses over the past three years to ensure that
multi-billion dollar weapons contracts for Star Wars and other
military programs will keep coming.
The only way to bring about real national (and global) security,
free from the threat of nuclear holocaust is to work towards global
nuclear abolition. This year the U. S. reaffirmed the Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty, which obliges the nuclear powers to
achieve global nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the military
contractors that are pushing Star Wars are also responsible for
maintaining the United States' massive nuclear arsenal. As long
as the interests of these corporations are put ahead of the interests
of the people, the United States, along with the rest of the world,
will move towards an increasingly unstable and militarized world.
Kevin Martin is the director of Project Abolition, a coalition
of seven U.S. peace and disarmament organizations. Rachel Glick,
Rachel Ries, Tim Nafziger, and Mark Swier are program assistants
for Project Abolition.