Friday, June 11, 2004

Kerry, Raytheon, and the "Active Denial System"

In a speech in Independence, Missouri on June 3, 2004, John Kerry said that, in addition to "[a]dding 40,000 troops to the active duty Army to prevent and prepare for other possible conflicts" and doubling "America's Special Forces," he will focus defense investment in "directed energy weapons" and other "right technologies" ("Kerry Campaign Fact Sheet: A New Military to Meet New Threats," June 3, 2004). If Jerry Brown could be ridiculed as "Governor Moonbeam," why not nickname Kerry "President Microwave" if he gets elected?

For the time being, I'd call Kerry the Candidate in "Active Denial" (aka CAD), given the name of Raytheon's "directed energy weapons" technology (and his caddish attitude toward anti-war activists -- cf. Mark Hand, "'It's Time to Get Over It': Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On," CounterPunch, February 18, 2004):
After more than three years in development, Raytheon will meet a May deadline to deliver its "active denial technology" to the Air Force Research Laboratory for testing, Smith said at the inaugural Photon Forum 2004, an optics conference held Tuesday and Wednesday at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

The Air Force lab's Directed Energy Directorate handles the Department of Defense's laser and other directed-energy technologies. (David Wichner, "Raytheon Beam Controls Mobs," Arizona Daily Star, April 8, 2004)
Greg Gordon of the Minneapolis Star Tribune called our attention to the potential use of "active denial technology" as a torture device:
Might it be used secretly during interrogations to torture suspected terrorists into cooperating?

[Marine Corps Col. David] Karcher [who heads the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate] and other military officials are trying to alleviate fears that the device might be misused to harm civilians or as a torture machine that leaves no evidence.

Karcher said the ADS "is absolutely not designed or intended or built" to be a torture device.

But in an era of secret interrogations of Al-Qaida suspects and revelations of U.S. abuse of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Doug Johnson of the Minneapolis-based Center for Torture Victims is skeptical.

"It seems fundamentally a weapon that's designed to create a great deal of pain and fear," said Johnson, the center's executive director. "The concern I would have is ... once this kind of technology is available and there's a perception that it's safe and nonlethal, it seems like a natural device to be used in interrogations." ("Beam Burns into the Future," May 29, 2004)
But, so far, neither Kerry nor George W. Bush (nor anyone else, for that matter) has had to answer any hardball question about this possible torture device, even as one new revelation after another has emerged out of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

Unbeknownst to all but a few concerned activists, Raytheon's "Active Denial System" will be tested "in late 2004," and the decision to "produce and operationally deploy the system" may come as early as 2006:
Under the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, the Air Force Research Laboratory will produce a Humvee-mounted prototype and provide it to operational forces from all the services in late 2004. The services will first develop concepts for employing the system and then evaluate its utility in representative military environments and scenarios. Depending on the results of this evaluation, which is projected to be completed at the end of 2005, a decision will be made to produce and operationally deploy the system. (Air Force Research Laboratory Office of Public Affairs, "Active Denial System: Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration," February 2003)
BTW, among the top corporate contributors for John Kerry was Raytheon (whose headquarters are in Waltham, Massachusetts), one of his home-state interests: cf. "John Forbes Kerry" and "John Kerry: 2002 Politician Profile". Overall, Raytheon was the fourth largest US military contractor in Fiscal Year 2002, receiving the Department of Defense contracts worth $7 billion thanks in part to its $4 million campaign contributions to both the Democratic and Republican Parties in 1996-2004, according to the Center for Defense Information's Defense Monitor 32.5 (November-December 2003, p. 7):
DoD Contract Value, Fiscal Year 2002
billions of dollars

Campaign Contributions, 1996-2004*
millions of dollars

1. Lockheed Martin Corporation
2. Boeing Company
3. Northrop Grumman Corporation
4. Raytheon Company
5. General Dynamics Corporation
6. United Technologies Corporation
7. Science Applications International Corp.
8. TRW Inc.
9. Health Net, Inc.

10. L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc.
Total of All DoD Contractors

* 2004 figures as of November 2003. Millions more will likely be spent in 2004. Figures are probably underreported as companies contribute under different names.
Sources: 100 Companies Receiving the Largest Dollar Volume of Prime Contract Awards -- Fiscal Year 2002, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports -- Washington Headquarters Services, Department of Defense. Center for Responsive Politics,
For the 2004 election cycle, too, Raytheon is the fourth largest campaign contributor among defense contractors, donating $577,210, 47% of which goes to the Democrats, and 53%, to the Republicans (, "Defense: Top Contributors," Election Cycle: 2004). In 2003, Raytheon's campaign contributions totaled "$216,000 (54 percent Democrats)," and its lobbying expenditure amounted to a whopping $1.1 million (Sheryl Fred, Center for Responsive Politics,"The Best Defense: A Guide to the Interests Driving the FY2004 Defense Budget," WorkingForChange, October 2, 2003). Watch the revolving door as well: "William J. Lynn, Raytheon's senior vice president for government operations and strategy, served as undersecretary of defense during the Clinton administration" (Fred, October 2, 2003), and John M. Deutch, former CIA director (May 1995-December 1996) who received a pardon from Bill Clinton, sits on Raytheon's board -- both connections should help Raytheon prosper under the next likely POTUS even more than it has under the current one.

Good business for shareholders at least if not for Iraqis? Think again. Scott Klinger and Holly Sklar reported in The Nation:
When it comes to shooting down auditor independence, military giant Raytheon is a proven winner. According to an IRRC study, in 2000 Raytheon had the highest percentage of non-audit fees for companies with revenue of more than $20 billion. Raytheon paid just $3 million to PricewaterhouseCoopers for audit services and an additional $48 million for consulting services. That Raytheon's independent auditor receives such large non-audit fees creates a substantial conflict of interest and continues a pattern of board and management disregard for shareholder interests. ("Titans of the Enron Economy," July 18, 2002)
Recently, both Raytheon and PricewaterhouseCoopers settled shareholders' class action lawsuits:
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP yesterday [on May 25, 2004] agreed to pay $50 million to settle allegations by Raytheon Co. shareholders that the auditor helped the Waltham defense contractor hide cost overruns five years ago.

The proposed deal cut short a trial that was likely to air some lingering conflict-of-interest complaints arising between accounting firms and their corporate clients. . . .

Raytheon shareholders as a class sued the company and its auditor in late 1999, alleging it failed to disclose quickly enough a host of delays and difficulties it was having on Pentagon and heavy construction projects. When it eventually described all the charges it needed to take, its stock fell 44 percent in a single day.

Earlier this month, Raytheon agreed to pay $410 million in cash and securities to settle the allegations. The company denied wrongdoing but said it paid the settlement to avoid the risk of an even larger damages award. . . .

. . . Together they would represent the fifth-largest recoveries in such shareholder litigation, according to figures from Stanford University law school.

Plaintiffs in the case were led by New York state comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, who oversees pension funds that held Raytheon shares. Hevesi and others were represented by the New York firm of Milberg Weiss, which will get 9 percent of the settlements, or $41.4 million, according to Hevesi's office. . . .

Plaintiffs' attorneys had begun to focus attention on the role of Raytheon chief financial officer Edward S. Pliner, who was PwC's lead partner on its work for Raytheon before leaving to join the defense contractor as its controller in April 2000. Two years later, he was named chief financial officer.

While Pliner was still at PwC, it pushed to win tens of millions of dollars in consulting fees not related to audit work, according to court filings. To argue that PwC's independence was compromised, plaintiffs attorneys cited, among other evidence, a memo that Pliner wrote in October 1998.

His memo noted that to achieve goals such as the consulting contracts, the firm must focus on "improving our relationships with senior management at Raytheon . . . to be viewed as their primary adviser on these issues and win significant work," according to a court filing. . . .

A Raytheon spokesman said neither Pliner nor the company would comment on the matter. (Ross Kerber, "Auditor to Pay $50m to Settle Raytheon Investor Suit," Boston Globe, May 26, 2004)
For information about potential human consequences of "Active Denial," see's brief "Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System (V-MADS) " (December 1, 2002).

See, also, Nicholas Turse's excellent essay on the use of Iraq as Washington's "weapon's lab," the latest example in the empire's long history of exploiting both big and small wars as its "living laboratories for battle-testing and improving their weaponry": "Living Weapons Labs: War American-Style" (TomDispatch, March 25, 2004). Turse's history should help activists fight against the system of Active Denial in the empire's culture.

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