Big 'Corporate' Brother: Is Lockheed Martin Shadowing You?

How a Giant Weapons Maker Became the New Big Brother

Have you noticed that Lockheed Martin, the giant weapons
corporation, is shadowing you? No? Then you haven't been paying much
attention. Let me put it this way: If you have a life, Lockheed Martin
is likely a part of it.

True, Lockheed Martin doesn't actually run the U.S. government, but sometimes it seems as if it might as well. After all, it received $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history. It now does work for more than two dozen
government agencies from the Department of Defense and the Department
of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental
Protection Agency. It's involved in surveillance and information
processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the
National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and
the Postal Service.

Oh, and Lockheed Martin has even helped train those friendly Transportation Security Administration agents who pat you down at the airport. Naturally, the company produces cluster bombs, designs nuclear weapons, and makes the F-35 Lightning
(an overpriced, behind-schedule, underperforming combat aircraft that
is slated to be bought by customers in more than a dozen countries) --
and when it comes to weaponry, that's just the start of a long list. In
recent times, though, it's moved beyond anything usually associated
with a weapons corporation and has been virtually running its own
foreign policy, doing everything from hiring interrogators for U.S. overseas prisons (including at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq) to managing a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the Afghan constitution.

A For-Profit Government-in-the-Making

If you want to feel a tad more intimidated, consider Lockheed
Martin's sheer size for a moment. After all, the company receives one of
every 14 dollars doled out by the Pentagon. In fact, its government
contracts, thought about another way, amount to a "Lockheed Martin tax"
of $260 per taxpaying household in the United States, and no weapons
contractor has more power or money to wield to defend its turf. It spent
$12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone. Not surprisingly, it's the top contributor
to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, Republican
Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, giving more than $50,000 in the
most recent election cycle. It also tops the list of donors to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the self-described "#1 earmarks guy in the U.S. Congress."

Add to all that its 140,000 employees and its claim
to have facilities in 46 states, and the scale of its clout starts to
become clearer. While the bulk of its influence-peddling activities may
be perfectly legal, the company also has quite a track record when it
comes to law-breaking: it ranks number one
on the "contractor misconduct" database maintained by the Project on
Government Oversight, a Washington-DC-based watchdog group.

How in the world did Lockheed Martin become more than just a military
contractor? Its first significant foray outside the world of weaponry
came in the early 1990s when plain old Lockheed (not yet merged with
Martin Marietta) bought Datacom Inc., a company specializing in
providing services for state and city governments, and turned it into
the foundation for a new business unit called Lockheed Information
Management Services (IMS). In turn, IMS managed to win contracts
in 44 states and several foreign countries for tasks ranging from
collecting parking fines and tolls to tracking down "deadbeat dads" and
running "welfare to work" job-training programs. The result was a number
of high profile failures, but hey, you can't do everything right, can
you?

Under pressure from Wall Street to concentrate on its core business -- implements of destruction -- Lockheed Martin sold
IMS in 2001. By then, however, it had developed a taste for
non-weapons work, especially when it came to data collection and
processing. So it turned to the federal government where it promptly
racked up deals with the IRS, the Census Bureau, and the U.S. Postal
Service, among other agencies.

As a result, Lockheed Martin is now involved in nearly every
interaction you have with the government. Paying your taxes? Lockheed
Martin is all over it. The company is even creating
a system that provides comprehensive data on every contact taxpayers
have with the IRS from phone calls to face-to-face meetings.

Want to stand up and be counted by the U.S. Census? Lockheed Martin will take care of it. The company runs
three centers -- in Baltimore, Phoenix, and Jeffersonville, Indiana --
that processed up to 18 tractor-trailers full of mail per day at the
height of the 2010 Census count. For $500 million it is developing the
Decennial Response Information Service (DRIS), which will collect and
analyze information gathered from any source, from phone calls or the
Internet to personal visits. According to
Preston Waite, associate director of the Census, the DRIS will be a
"big catch net, catching all the data that comes in no matter where it
comes from."

Need to get a package across the country? Lockheed Martin cameras will scan
bar codes and recognize addresses, so your package can be sorted
"without human intervention," as the company's web site puts it.

Plan on committing a crime? Think twice. Lockheed Martin is in charge of
the FBI's Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification System
(IAFIS), a database of 55 million sets of fingerprints. The company
also produces
biometric identification devices that will know who you are by scanning
your iris, recognizing your face, or coming up with novel ways of
collecting your fingerprints or DNA. As the company likes to say, it's
in the business of making everyone's lives (and so personal data) an
"open book," which is, of course, of great benefit to us all. "Thanks to
biometric technology," the company proclaims,
"people don't have to worry about forgetting a password or bringing
multiple forms of identification. Things just got a little easier."

Are you a New York City resident concerned about a "suspicious
package" finding its way onto the subway platform? Lockheed Martin tried to
do something about that, too, thanks to a contract from the city's
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to install 3,000 security
cameras and motion sensors that would spot such packages, as well as the
people carrying them, and notify the authorities. Only problem: the
cameras didn't work as advertised and the MTA axed Lockheed Martin and cancelled the $212 million contract.

Collecting Intelligence on You

If it seems a little creepy to you that the same company making
ballistic missiles is also processing your taxes, accessing your
fingerprints, scanning your packages, ensuring that it's easier than
ever to collect your DNA, and counting you for the census, rest assured:
Lockheed Martin's interest in getting inside your private life via
intelligence collection and surveillance has remained remarkably
undiminished in the twenty-first century.

Tim Shorrock, author of the seminal book Spies for Hire, has
described Lockheed Martin as "the largest defense contractor and
private intelligence force in the world." As far back as 2002, the
company plunged into
the "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) program that was former
National Security Advisor Admiral John Poindexter's pet project. A
giant database to collect telephone numbers, credit cards, and reams of
other personal data from U.S. citizens in the name of fighting
terrorism, the program was de-funded by Congress the following year, but
concerns remain that the National Security Agency is now running a
similar secret program.

In the meantime, since at least 2004, Lockheed Martin has been involved in the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity
(CIFA), which collected personal data on American citizens for storage
in a database known as "Threat and Local Observation Notice" (and far
more dramatically by the acronym TALON). While Congress shut down the
domestic spying aspect of the program in 2007 (assuming, that is, that
the Pentagon followed orders), CIFA itself continues to operate. In
2005, Washington Post military and intelligence expert William Arkin revealed
that, while the database was theoretically being used to track anyone
suspected of terrorism, drug trafficking, or espionage, "some military
gumshoe or overzealous commander just has to decide someone is a 'threat
to the military'" for it to be brought into play. Among the
"threatening" citizens actually tracked by CIFA were members of antiwar groups.
As part of its role in CIFA, Lockheed Martin was not only monitoring
intelligence, but also "estimating future threats." (Not exactly
inconvenient for a giant weapons outfit that might see antiwar activism
as a threat!)

Lockheed Martin is also intimately bound up in the workings of the
National Security Agency, America's largest spy outfit. In addition to
producing spy satellites for the NSA, the company is in charge of "Project Groundbreaker," a $5 billion, 10-year effort to upgrade the agency's internal telephone and computer networks.

While Lockheed Martin may well be watching you at home -- it's my
personal nominee for twenty-first-century "Big Brother" -- it has also
been involved in questionable activities abroad that go well beyond
supplying weapons to regions in conflict. There were, of course, those
interrogators it recruited for America's offshore prison system from
Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan (and the charges of abuses that so
naturally went with them), but the real scandal the company has been embroiled in
involves overseeing an assassination program in Pakistan. Initially, it
was billed as an information gathering operation using private
companies to generate data the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies
allegedly could not get on their own. Instead, the companies turned out
to be supplying targeting information used by U.S. Army Special Forces
troops to locate and kill suspected Taliban leaders.

The private firms involved were managed by Lockheed Martin under a
$22 million contract from the U.S. Army. As Mark Mazetti of the New York Times has reported,
there were just two small problems with the effort: "The American
military is largely prohibited from operating in Pakistan. And under
Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors for
spying." Much as in the Iran/Contra scandal
of the 1980s, when Oliver North set up a network of shell companies to
evade the laws against arming right-wing paramilitaries in Nicaragua,
the Army used Lockheed Martin to do an end run around rules limiting
U.S. military and intelligence activities in Pakistan. It should not,
then, be too surprising that one of the people involved in the
Lockheed-Martin-managed network was Duane "Dewey" Claridge, an ex-CIA man who had once been knee deep in the Iran/Contra affair.

A Twenty-First Century Big Brother

There has also been a softer side to Lockheed Martin's foreign policy efforts. It has involved
contracts for services that range from recruiting election monitors for
Bosnia and the Ukraine and attempting to reform Liberia's justice
system to providing personnel involved in drafting the Afghan
constitution. Most of these projects have been carried out by the
company's PAE unit,
the successor to a formerly independent firm, Pacific Architects and
Engineers, that made its fortune building and maintaining military bases
during the Vietnam War.

However, the "soft power" side of Lockheed Martin's operations (as
described on its web site) may soon diminish substantially as the
company has put PAE up for sale. Still, the revenues garnered from these activities will undoubtedly be more than offset by a new $5 billion, multi-year contract awarded by the U.S. Army to provide logistics support for U.S. Special Forces in dozens of countries.

Consider all this but a Lockheed Martin precis. A full accounting
of its "shadow government" would fill volumes. After all, it's the
number-one contractor not only for the Pentagon, but also for the
Department of Energy. It ranks number two for the Department of State,
number three for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and
number four for the Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban
Development. Even listing the government and quasi-governmental
agencies the company has contracts with is a daunting task, but here's
just a partial run-down: the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of
Land Management, the Census Bureau, the Coast Guard, the Department of
Defense (including the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force and
the Missile Defense Agency), the Department of Education, the Department
of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation
Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal
Technology Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the General
Services Administration, the Geological Survey, the Department of
Homeland Security, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue
Service, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National
Institutes of Health, the Department of State, the Social Security
Administration, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the
Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Agency, and
the Department of Veterans Affairs.

When President Eisenhower warned
50 years ago this month of the dangers of "unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," he
could never have dreamed that one for-profit weapons outfit would so
fully insinuate itself into so many aspects of American life. Lockheed
Martin has helped turn Eisenhower's dismal mid-twentieth-century vision
into a for-profit military-industrial-surveillance complex fit for the
twenty-first century, one in which no governmental activity is now
beyond its reach.

I feel safer already.