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Defense Contractors Drop $340K On Parties For Gates

Great piece from CQ’s Alex Knott. Apparently defense contractors spent $340,000 last year throwing events to honor Defense Secretary Bob Gates:

Among them were six companies that accounted for more than a quarter of the Pentagon’s procurement budget during the 2008 fiscal year. These groups, which spent $125,000 hosting events honoring Gates, received a total of more than $91 billion in defense contracts, according to the Federal Procurement Data System.

Those companies are

The question, though, is what message?

Gates’ new deputy, Bill Lynn, until recently was Raytheon’s top lobbyist. Morell is probably right that it’s unavoidable, realistically, for any defense secretary to avoid events like these. But that speaks to the point of how deeply ingrained these companies are within the Pentagon research, acquisition, and development apparatus. Right now several of these companies are pushing the argument-of-convenience that their efforts should be considered part of any economic stimulus plan, and they’ve got allies in the media actively making the case. (Somehow here the F-22, built to fight the Soviet Union, is an “amazing aircraft”; whereas a former Reagan assistant secretary of defense calls it “the most unnecessary weapon system being built by the Pentagon.”)

As everyone waits to see how Gates will balance defense priorities in the forthcoming Pentagon budget, it’s surely a relevant piece of information that defense contractors are trying to make sure his decisionmaking process is as, uh, comfortable as it can be.

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