Carol Miller on the Military Industrial Congressional Media Complex

For ten years now, New Mexico public health advocate Carol Miller has been reading the Pentagon’s daily listing of large military contracts.

Carol Miller

And it has changed her life.

“One of my friends challenged me and said –  just for a couple of days read the Pentagon daily digest and get a view of what they are up to,” Miller told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last month. “And I have been doing that now for ten years.”

“That daily update contains every large contract that the Pentagon hands out. Coming from a health background where we were always scrambling for money, suddenly being saturated in the corrupt contracting coming out of the Pentagon, that was a real eye opener. That is what has kept me engaged for ten years now.”

“It became clear that the Pentagon contracting is set up so that it will never pass an audit. The Pentagon has the authority to do what they call IDIQ contracts – that stands for indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity. These are large sums of money that the Pentagon gives out and says – get us something with this money, we would like to do this or that.”

“It became obvious with the Osprey. That was the aircraft that they wanted to fly the low altitude flights in our neighborhood in New Mexico. That’s the tilt rotor aircraft. It was something out of 1950 comic books. It lifts up like a helicopter and then the rotors tilt and it flies like a plane. Many service members have died in that aircraft, including four this past week. It is unsafe. It starts fires.” 

“What is this aircraft going to do flying over my head? Looking into it changed my life. And then I was looking into all of the contracts with Boeing and others to create this aircraft. There were never any consequences for the corporation for failed projects. In the Reagan era, there was the $600 hammer and an attempt to say that Pentagon contracting was out of control. But it has never been in control and there was no intention to control it.”

“I have had conversations with more optimistic people who advocate for legislation and insist that the Pentagon pass an audit. But if the very process of contracting is not changed, it never will. The contractor will say – yes they gave us the money, but you didn’t give us the delivery date. And you didn’t tell us how many you needed or wanted. IDIQ is a loophole big enough to drive an aircraft carrier through.”

There used to be Pentagon watchdogs in Congress – people like Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire. Who are the current William Proxmires?

“I’m not sure there are any specifically focused on Pentagon spending. There are two organizations outside of government – the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). And there is a community based campaign – Divest from the War Machine – to urge divestment from the military and they are doing some of that watchdog work.”

What happened to the Center for Defense Information?

“They were incorporated into POGO a number of years ago. But they didn’t really get anywhere. They had funding from Ben & Jerry’s. They did help people in Vermont who were working to block the F-35 basing in Burlington. But it is quite amazing to realize how many jobs are tied up with the military and how many corporations have a defense focus to their work.”

“I used to think of the company Oshkosh as a company that made cute overalls that you would buy your children. In fact, they are actually one of the largest makers of MRAPs – mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. They are the vehicles that were so flawed when used in Iraq.”

“The company that makes the Ball canning jars – a larger part of their company is military based.  Unicor is the federal prison industry arm. And they get large contracts and they have prisoners making clothing for the military. The military is baked into this country.”

“I describe my path as – from health to hell and back again. I worked with my Congressional delegation in New Mexico very closely for years on issues relating to public health.” 

“They were upset with me and others in the community when we tried to push back against militarization. The U.S for the last ten years has been shopping for this Cold War that is underway right now. You see that very clearly in the spending they have done. Congress has given the Pentagon more money than they asked for. There is a real push for what the Pentagon calls a near peer war. That near peer war that they have been shopping for would be with either Russia or China or both. Even though, as we see with the situation in Russia, they are not even close to a peer as far as material and training.”

“Even members of Congress who I thought had the public interest in mind, when they came to the military, they peeled off.”

Who are you talking about in New Mexico?

“I’m talking about Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. They have both retired from the Senate. I always thought I had a good personal relationship with Jeff Bingaman. But it ended at a public event when I and some others saw him at a lunch line. And we asked him why he was letting the Air Force take over the entire air space of New Mexico. And that was the end of it. That was the end of a decades long relationship. One time we raised the Achilles heel and that was it.”

What about Tom Udall?

“Tom was always disappointing. I had run against him for Congress in 1998. We had an okay relationship for a while. My community also has Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has been converted to an all out 24/7 manufacturer facility for new nuclear bombs. When Tom made that his focus, that was the end of having any kind of a personal or professional relationship with him. They would pay lip service to health care and the problems with our educational system in New Mexico. But they really worked for the military industrial complex.”

Any other liberals in New Mexico who were good on some things but not when it came to the military industrial complex?

“All of them. Our current Senator Ben Ray Lujan is very bad on the nuclear issue – he prioritizes that and the military. He gives lip service and very little funding to our community. These are personal relationships. We are a small state. Now it is – if one of these people see me coming, they run the other way.”

What about 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 promoter of what are called directed energy weapons, which are laser weapons to incinerate people and buildings – turn them into ash. That is the project he was working on at Sandia when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He started the Directed Energy Caucus in the House to make sure that those weapons, which are probably illegal under international law, would gain acceptance. In the Senate, he did the same thing. He started a Directed Energy Caucus. He has been Lockheed’s and now Honeywell’s person in the Senate.”

Who in the Congress are the most vocal critics of over the top Pentagon spending?

“Beyond a sentence every year, I’m not familiar with one. Certainly Senator Bernie Sanders has been a leader. But here’s the reality. When we give two-thirds of our money to the military, people end up believing they have to advocate for the corporations providing jobs in their area. We have Senator Sanders at a big impasse with the Vermont peace community. I traveled to Vermont and met with the peace community there over the basing of the F-35 in Burlington, Vermont. The F-35 has been extremely controversial in Vermont.”

Senator Sanders supported the F-35?

“He said he reluctantly supported it, but he has defended it. Senator Leahy was very emphatic that it was very important to bring the F-35 to Burlington, Vermont.”

“The life blood of our economy is the death economy. It has been heartbreaking.”

“I have been spending time on the USA Spending website. It’s very good. It has every contract and allocation and who gets it. I did learn that the Congressional district with the least federal spending is actually Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m hoping to reach out to her while I’m here in D.C.”

“There are some states where the entire quality of the people of the state has been sacrificed to the military. And then the Democrats, progressive or not, are quite okay with that. And certainly the Republicans are okay with that.”

“Who runs these companies?”

“Many of them are former military. Our generals know that as soon as they leave the Pentagon, if they play their cards right, they can get very highly paid positions at some of these defense contracting companies.”

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Carol Miller, see 36 Corporate Crime Reporter 13(12), February 28, 2022, print edition only.]

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