Hundreds of American ex-military brass working for evil foreign governments

Top US military commanders James Mattis, James Jones, and Keith Alexander are among hundreds of American generals and admirals hired by evil dictators.

More than 500 retired and reserve U.S. military personnel have received permission to receive awards or employment from foreign interests after they retire, according to reform Democrat Lisa McCormick, who cited evidence obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

“Under federal law, retired or reserve military officials who want to work for a foreign government must first obtain approval from the secretary of their military branch and the Department of State,” said McCormick. “It is insane that some of the world’s most barbaric regimes are allowed to hire American military officials with sensitive knowledge but the identities of those potential traitors are being kept secret.”

“Of the 517 ethics waivers issued by the State Department, allowing former military officials to be employed by foreign interests, nearly 280 granted approval for former American personnel to receive emoluments for work on behalf of interests in the United Arab Emirates, where human rights such as the freedoms of assembly, association, the press, expression, and religion are severely repressed,” said McCormick.

Amnesty International, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch are among the very credible organizations that have declared that United Arab Emirates has generally disregarded human rights, imprisoned and tortured citizens for criticizing the regime, and harassed families with the state security apparatus,” said McCormick.

“The UAE government commits serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees, suppression of freedom of expression, and violation of the right to privacy,” said McCormick. “I do not see how any American could take a paycheck from tyrants responsible for the unjust imprisonment of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor; Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist and former lecturer at the University of Paris IV Abu Dhabi; and many other dissidents.”

This law has its basis in the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars any person holding an office of profit or trust, from accepting payment from a foreign state without the consent of Congress.

This provision still applies to retired military personnel given they remain subject to recall into active duty.

McCormick said New Jersey’s lawmakers are responsible for allowing conditions to exist that could result in betrayal.

“Many of these U.S. military veterans, among them dozens of generals and admirals, have taken lucrative jobs working for foreign governments since 2015, and they are serving countries known for human rights abuses and political repression,” said McCormick. “Senator Bob Menendez—who I challenged in the 2018 Democratic primary—and Senator Cory Booker have failed to stop U.S. military personnel from working for evil foreign governments.”

Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Cory Booker share responsibility for the security vulnerability, says anti-corruption reformer Lisa McCormick

Over half of those waivers were granted so former military officials could work on behalf of United Arab Emirates interests, despite that government’s troubling record of human rights violations.

POGO acquired the waivers through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The Washington Post filed a similar lawsuit, and the two organizations shared the documents that were obtained.

Washington Post investigation into the waiver found that 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals have worked as paid consultants for the Saudi Arabia Defense Ministry since 2016.

The ministry is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is commonly known as MBS, who approved the 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as part of a brutal crackdown on dissent.

Saudi Arabia hired retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to President Barack Obama, and retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and President George W. Bush.

While the identities of most waiver recipients remain redacted, the emoluments clause program itself raises troubling questions about whether those receiving payments from foreign interests have previous professional relationships with those countries or plan to seek such relationships following their retirement.

If so, can they be counted on to provide advice on national security issues that is in the best interest of the United States?

In some cases, the military experts are public figures working to sway American public sentiment but do not identify their relationships with foreign interests.

Under current law, any retired or reserve members of the military wishing to work for a foreign government or receive emoluments (gifts, payments, reimbursements, or something of value from a foreign state) must first obtain approval from the secretary of their military service and then from the Secretary of State.

In August 2017, POGO released an investigation revealing high-ranking former military officials — including then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former National Security Advisor James L. Jones, and then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — had previously requested and received waivers.

While Kelly’s waiver allowed him to work with the Australian Defense Force, a close U.S. ally, Mattis’ and Jones’ waivers were to conduct work on behalf of the government of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian foreign interests, respectively.

At that time, it was unclear how many other retired or reserve members of the military received permission to receive emoluments from foreign interests. Now, for the first time, these documents provide a closer look at the size and scope of the waiver program.

Between April 2010 and August 2020, the State Department issued over 500 waivers to retiring servicemembers, allowing them to take emoluments to work on behalf of foreign interests. While many of these positions are not disclosed, some clearly support military operations, such as “battle trainer,” while others are far more general, including descriptions like “consultant” or “advisor.” 

Nearly half of all waivers issued went to former Army personnel (44%). Roughly a quarter of all waivers were issued to former members of the Navy (24%), while waivers were distributed fairly evenly between the Air Force (15%) and Coast Guard (10%).

Waivers issued to retired members of the U.S. Public Health Service and Marine Corps made up less than 10% combined (7% and 1%, respectively).

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