WALTER F. ROCHE JR. HAS AN ILLUMINATING PIECE TODAY in the Los Angeles Times on the clan Woolsey — exposing some of the Iraq contract connections of Suzanne Woolsey, the former CIA Director’s wife. In January 2004, she became a director of Fluor Corporation, which has $1.6 billion in Iraq related contracts. She also serves as a director of the Institute for Defense Analyses which also has war interests, and received modest compensation for that role according to the article.
James Woolsey serves as Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton with at least $89 million in Iraq defense contract interests. Roche’s article also points out that Suzanne Woolsey is also affiliated with Paladin Capital Group, a venture capital firm where her husband serves as a principal and director.
A reader of The Washington Note entry on Woolsey tipped me off to James Woolsey’s Paladin connection last week — and I was somewhat stunned by the brazen language of the “Paladin Homeland Security Fund” that Woolsey helps direct. I realize that many intelligence and military officials make natural fits for defense related firms when they leave public service — but I think that big, inappropriate lines get crossed when individuals help fan wars, in which people die, and financially benefit from the result. A recusal from war profits should be standard for talking heads and policy commentators when it comes to sending American men and women into harm’s way.
Here is the “statement of concern” for the Paladin Homeland Security Fund:
The end of the Cold War has proven not to be the end of global conflict. Today, conflict often manifests itself in a new form of guerilla warfare: terrorism. This form of conflict extends vulnerabilities beyond military institutions to civilian populations and commercial infrastructure. As the emergence of sophisticated communication and information networks blurs many of the past separations between government and industry and between domestic and global interests, security needs transcend traditional borders between nations and between governments and industry. The events and aftermath of September 11 highlight the need for both governments and industry to address these security concerns. As a result, recognition of the need for homeland security products and services to address these threats is growing. The nation and the world now look to find new ways to take advantage of the shared concerns between governments and industry and to develop new methods to collaborate for security and for technological and economic benefit. These concerns, together with the changes in the global business environment, offer substantial promise for homeland security investment.
Roche’s article hits the bull’s eye on the increasing web of interests between those who blur the lines between their public and private roles, something we heard a lot about regarding Richard Perle — but Woolsey adds much more texture to this trend since he was the first to allege the still unproven connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
The Woolseys’ overlapping affiliations are part of a growing pattern in Washington in which individuals play key roles in quasi-governmental organizations advising officials on major policy issues but also are involved with private businesses in related fields. Such activities generally are not covered by conflict of interest laws or ethics rules. But they underscore an insiders network in which contacts and relationships developed inside the government can meld with individual financial interests.
Antonin Scalia went duck-hunting with Vice President Cheney who had pending business before the Supreme Court — and while Scalia didn’t recuse himself, the turmoil that erupted will probably deter the Justice from such other poorly chosen excursions. But the conflicts of interest between our Saturday morning talking heads who fanned the flames of war and their private bank accounts needs attention.
One of my recent emails recommended that I reacquaint myself with the history of Tammany Hall — something I actually know quite a bit about — and it seems to me that we are in an era of profound structural corruption.
Congrats to Roche on exposing these seedy relationships. The parents, spouses, and children of the nearly 1,000 Iraq War and Occupation killed and the many thousands more wounded deserve better. The families losing health care as their fathers and mothers lose private jobs because of extended National Guard duty deployments in Iraq deserve better.
Perhaps Fluor and other defense firms should set aside “stock options accounts” for service men and women who have gone off to fight for this country so that they can share in the blurring of private gain and public sacrifice that the Woolsey clan is showing us.
— Steve Clemons