For ten years now, New Mexico public health advocate Carol Miller has been reading the Pentagon’s daily list of major military contracts.
And it changed his life.
“A friend of mine challenged me and said – just for a few days read the Pentagon daily digest and get a view of what they’re doing,” Miller said. Corporate crime reporter in an interview last month. “And I’ve been doing this now for ten years.”
“This daily update contains all the big contracts that the Pentagon distributes. Coming from a healthcare background where we were always on the hunt for money, being suddenly saturated with corrupt contracts coming out of the Pentagon, this was a real eye-opener. That’s what has kept me going for ten years now.
“It has become clear that Pentagon contracts are set up in such a way that they will never pass an audit. The Pentagon has the power to do what they call IDIQ contracts – meaning indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity. These are large sums of money that the Pentagon is handing out and saying – get us something with this money, we would like to do this or that.
“It became obvious with the Osprey. This was the plane they wanted to fly for low-flying in our neighborhood in New Mexico. This is the tilt-rotor aircraft. It was something out of 1950 comics. It lifts like a helicopter, then the rotors tilt and it flies like an airplane. Many soldiers died on this plane, including four last week. It’s dangerous. This starts fires.
“What’s that plane going to do flying over my head?” Watching it changed my life. And then I looked at all the contracts with Boeing and others to create this aircraft. There have never been any consequences for the company in the event of failure of projects. In the Reagan days, there was the $600 hammer and an attempt to say that the Pentagon contracts were out of control. But he was never under control and there was no intention of controlling him.
“I’ve had conversations with more optimistic people who advocate for legislation and insist that the Pentagon pass an audit. But if the contracting process itself isn’t changed, it never will be. The entrepreneur will say – yes, they gave us the money, but you didn’t tell us the delivery date. And you didn’t tell us how much you needed or wanted. IDIQ is a loophole big enough to get a carrier through. planes.”
There were once Pentagon watchdogs in Congress — people like Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire. Who are the current William Proxmires?
“I’m not sure there are any that focus specifically on Pentagon spending. There are two organizations outside of government – the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). And there’s a community campaign – Divest from the War Machine – to demand divestment from the military and they’re doing some of that monitoring work.
What happened to the Defense Information Center?
“They were incorporated into POGO several years ago. But they didn’t really succeed. They had funding from Ben & Jerry’s. They helped people in Vermont who were trying to block the F-35 base in Burlington. But it is quite amazing to realize the number of jobs related to the military and the number of companies whose work is focused on defence.
“I used to think of the Oshkosh company as a company that made cute overalls that you would buy your kids. In fact, they are actually one of the largest manufacturers of MRAPs – mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. These are the vehicles that were so faulty when they were used in Iraq.
“The company that makes the Ball canning jars – more of their business is military-based. Unicor is the branch of the federal prison industry. And they get big contracts and they have prisoners making clothes for the military The army is integrated in this country.
“I describe my path as – from health to hell and back again. I have worked closely with my congressional delegation to New Mexico for years on issues related to public health.
“They were upset with me and other members of the community when we tried to push back against militarization. Over the last ten years, the United States has bought this cold war that’s going on right now. It shows very clearly in the spending they’ve been doing. Congress has given the Pentagon more money than they asked for. There’s a real push for what the Pentagon calls a quasi-peer war. This quasi-peer war they are looking for would be either with Russia or China or both.Even if, as seen with the situation in Russia, they are not even close to a peer in this regarding equipment and training.
“Even members of Congress who I think had the public interest in mind, when they joined the military, they broke away.”
Who are you talking about in New Mexico?
“I’m talking about Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. They both retired from the Senate. I always thought I had a good personal relationship with Jeff Bingaman. But it ended in a public event when me and others saw him in a lunch line. And we asked him why he let the Air Force take over all the airspace in New Mexico. And that was the end. It was the end of a decades-long relationship. Once we lifted the Achilles heel and that was it.
What about Tom Udall?
“Tom was always disappointing. I ran against him for Congress in 1998. We had a good relationship for a while. My community also has the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has been converted into a 24/7 manufacturing plant for new nuclear bombs. When Tom made it his goal, it was the end of all personal or professional relationship with him. They would praise health care and the problems with our education system in New Mexico. But they really worked for the military-industrial complex.
Are there other liberals in New Mexico who were good at certain things but not at the military-industrial complex?
“All. Our current Senator Ben Ray Lujan is very bad on the nuclear issue – he prioritizes that and the military. He pays lip service and very little funding to our community. These are personal relationships. We are a small state, this is now – if one of these people sees me coming, they run the other way.
And Senator Martin Heinrich?
“Martin Heinrich is terrible. His campaign story was that he came to New Mexico for the environment. But in reality, he came to New Mexico to work at Sandia Labs. He is the biggest proponent of what are called directed energy weapons, which are laser weapons to incinerate people and buildings – turning them to ashes. This is the project he was working on at Sandia when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He launched the Directed Energy Caucus in the House to ensure that these weapons, which are likely illegal under international law, would be accepted. In the Senate, he did the same thing. He launched a Directed Energy Caucus. He was Lockheed’s and now Honeywell’s person in the Senate.
Who in Congress is most critical of the Pentagon’s exorbitant spending?
“Beyond one sentence each year, I don’t know of one. Senator Bernie Sanders has certainly been a leader. But here is the reality. When we give two-thirds of our money to the military, people end up believing that they have to defend the businesses that create jobs in their region. We have Senator Sanders in a big stalemate with the peace community in Vermont. I traveled to Vermont and met with the peace community there about the F-35 base in Burlington, Vermont. The F-35 has been extremely controversial in Vermont.
Senator Sanders supported the F-35?
“He said he backed him reluctantly, but he defended him. Senator Leahy insisted that it was very important to bring the F-35 to Burlington, Vermont.
“The lifeblood of our economy is the economy of death. It was heartbreaking.
“I spent time on the USA Spending website. It’s great. It has all the contracts and allowances and who gets them. I learned that the congressional district with the least federal spending is actually Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I hope to be able to contact her while I am here in DC”
“There are states where the whole quality of the people of the state has been sacrificed to the military. And then Democrats, progressives or not, are all on board with that. And Republicans certainly agree with that.
“Who runs these companies?
“Many of them are former soldiers. Our generals know that as soon as they leave the Pentagon, if they play their cards right, they can get very well paid positions in some of these defense companies.
[For the complete q/a format Interview with Carol Miller, see 36 Corporate Crime Reporter 13(12), February 28, 2022, print edition only.]