Joe Biden’s early national security picks cashed in after their time in the Obama administration by consulting for defense contractors or working for think tanks funded by the defense industry and the US government, or both.
On Sunday, Bloomberg reported that Biden has chosen his longtime aide, Tony Blinken, to serve as secretary of state and will name Jake Sullivan, his senior advisor and a former Hillary Clinton aide, national security adviser. Former Obama Defense Department official Michèle Flournoy is considered the favorite to be secretary of defense.
After leaving the Obama administration, Blinken and Flournoy founded WestExec Advisors, a secretive consulting firm whose motto has been: “Bringing the Situation Room to the board room.” Flournoy and Sullivan have both held roles at think tanks raking in money from defense contractors, and US government intelligence and defense agencies.
Last week, two board members from Raytheon joined a small group to brief President-elect Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris on national security issues. One of the two Raytheon board members, Robert Work, has also worked for WestExec.
Biden has been facing calls from Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups to end the revolving door between government and the defense industry. One-third of the members of Biden transition’s Department of Defense agency review team were most recently employed by “organizations, think tanks or companies that either directly receive money from the weapons industry, or are part of this industry,” according to reporting from In These Times.
Meanwhile, defense executives have been boasting about their close relationship with Biden and expressing confidence that there will not be much change in Pentagon policy.