News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


'Military-industrial complex' a reality

After an Army career and eight years in the White House, President Dwight Eisenhower knew something about the defense industry's propensity to woo the military and Congress.

In his farewell address to the nation Jan. 17, 1961, President Eisenhower warned of a "military-industrial complex" that he saw shaping up during the Cold War.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist," he told the nation.

An earlier draft of his speech warned of a military-industrial-congressional complex. Some of his friends in Congress, however, persuaded him to delete the reference to Capitol Hill.

The late president's warning came to mind again this week as the Senate gets ready for hearings on President Bush's new spy chief, retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell.

The admiral makes $2 million a year as a private consultant to some of the same senior military and intelligence officials he would supervise. The company he's worked with for a decade, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., does $3.7 billion in defense and intelligence consulting.

The practice is widespread. Many high-ranking officers retire and head for Huntsville, where the transition is seamless to becoming a consultant to industries doing business with the military.

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