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Going Private

Contractors profit—national debt soars.

Going Private
A CONTRACT ON AMERICAThe military-industrial complex generates trillions of dollars for defense contractors.

The national debt of the United States is more than $18 trillion and growing. Despite politicians’ claims, Social Security, the biggest entitlement program, hasn’t contributed a penny to that mind-numbing figure. In fact, economist Robert Higgs concluded that 91.2 percent of the national debt results from defense spending.

A 2011 report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting stated that between $31 billion and $60 billion were lost to waste and fraud by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Freedom the following about the use of contractors: “The change was made to put more dollars into the profits of companies like Halliburton and its subsidiary, at the time, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR). Dick Cheney spearheaded the effort at DoD in 1991-92 and then stepped down as Secretary of Defense in late 1992 and became CEO of Halliburton—a sweet deal if ever there was one. … At the end of the day, privatizing the ultimate public function, war, was a very stupid and dangerous idea.”

A Commission on Wartime Contracting report found that KBR failed to account for $100 million worth of government-furnished property. KBR has billed at least $193 million, and perhaps as much as $300 million, to pay for unnecessary personnel, and the company has been blamed for the electrocution deaths of 12 soldiers due to shoddy wiring it installed.

KBR is not the only entity to prey on Uncle Sam. The Carlyle Group, a multinational private equity corporation that invests in businesses involved in the defense industry, included among its employees and advisors in 2001 former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci and former Secretary of State James Baker. In 2002, The Carlyle Group received “$677 million in government contracts. In 2003, as the war effort shifted focus from Afghanistan to Iraq … the defense contracts leapt to $2.1 billion,” according to

To ensure the coffers continue to fill, 795 lobbyists for Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors spent more than $126 million in 2015 to entice the U.S. military to buy their weapons, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Wilkerson said this lobbying has affected national security “adversely.”

KBR did not respond to Freedom’s questions, and Lockheed Martin said it had no comment.