News: November 28, 2005 – World Policy Institute – Research Projec


World Policy Institute Press Release, Nov. 28, 2005

Contact: William D. Hartung, 212-229-5808, ext. 4257 OR Frida Berrigan, 212-229-5808, ext. 4254


“Tangled Web 2005: A Profile of the Missile Defense and Space Weapons Lobbies” is online at We would be hapopy to send you a hard copy of the report, just email

New York, November 28th – The Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute released a report on the role of the arms lobby in promoting missile defense and space weapons. “After spending $130 billion since Ronald Reagan’s 1983 ‘Star Wars’ speech, the Pentagon has yet to produce a single device that can reliably intercept a ballistic missile,” notes William D. Hartung, author of “Tangled Web 2005: A Profile of the Missile Defense and Space Weapons Lobbies.””Despite this dismal track record, missile defense spending has increased by two and one-half times during the Bush administration, in part due to lobbying by major contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin and their allies in Congress,” he said.

Budgets Grow, Contractors Cash In

In the first two years of the Bush administration alone, missile defense budgets jumped by more than 80%, from $4.2 billion to $7.7 billion annually. Budgets have continued to grow, to $8.8 billion in the FY 2006 budget proposal, down from a high of $9.9 billion in FY 2005. The biggest beneficiaries of these sharp spending increases have been the big four missile defense contractors. From 2001 to 2004, Boeing’s missile defense contracts doubled, from $1.4 billion to $2.9 billion; Lockheed Martin’s awards more than doubled, from $557 million to $1.2 billion; Raytheon’s contracts nearly tripled, from $225 million to $647 million; and Northrop Grumman’s awards went up more than fivefold, from $104 million to $534 million, largely due to its acquisition of TRW, a major player in the missile defense field.

Overall, more than 77% of all missile defense prime contracts from 2001 to 2004 went to just these four firms. “Given the recent concerns about cronyism and incompetence in the Bush administration, the concentration of missile defense contracts among a handful of firms with a record of technical failures and cost over-runs is deeply troubling,” asserts Center Deputy Director Frida Berrigan. Alabama-based firms Colsa Instruments (over $120 million in total from 2001 to 2004) and Sparta, Inc. ($264 million over four years) have also benefited from growing missile defense budgets.

Contractor Political Contributions: What Are They Getting for Their Money?

Top missile defense contractors have contributed over $4.1 million to just 30 key members of Congress in the 2001 to 2006 election cycles. The top two recipients in the Senate are Alabama Senators Richard Shelby ($204,334) and Jeff Sessions ($145,250). Collazo Enterprises (the parent company of Colsa Instruments), has been the top contributor to Sen. Sessions (R-AL) in the 2001-2006 cycle, contributing $40,000 to his political war chest. Sen. Shelby (R-AL) and Representatives Terry Everett (R-AL), Bud Cramer (D-AL) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL) are all top recipients of funds from Collazo and other Alabama-based contractors. In return, these Alabama lawmakers have worked overtime to increase funding for missile defense projects that flow to firms based in their state.

Other major missile defense supporters who have been on the receiving end of major contractor donations include Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), who received $72,995 from Lockheed Martin in the 2001 to 2006 cycles, and has bragged about his role in getting two Lockheed Martin-built Aegis destroyers added to the Pentagon budget. Saxton describes the ships as “the shields of the U.S. fleet and the backbones of the sea-based element of the nation’s missile defense system.” Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, has been pressing the Pentagon to continue upgrading ground-based missile defense interceptors that are being based in Fort Greely, Alaska, with 40 missiles expected to be deployed by 2007. Sen. Stevens has already received $103,400 from missile defense contractors in the 2001 to 2006 election cycle.

“Whatever its alleged military benefits, it is clear that missile defense has become a multi-billion dollar ‘pork barrel in the sky,'” says study author William D. Hartung.

Space Weapons: the Next Big Boondoggle?

The next big item on the arms lobby’s agenda is the research and deployment of weapons in space, an effort which, if carried through, could eventually grow to be even more expensive than the missile defense program. Major projects like the XSS-11 spacecraft, the Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE), and the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV) are all being developed with Anti-Satellite capabilities. Many of the same contractors that brought us missile defense are now involved in space weapons research, including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Smaller firms with a piece of the action include Davidson Inc. and Miltec, Alabama-based firms whose work on the Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite system (KE-ASAT) has been championed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). “Not only will these systems be immensely costly,” notes Frida Berrigan, “but they risk sparking a ‘shooting war’ in space that would undercut the current military and economic benefits the United States derives from its current position as the dominant space power.”


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