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8:30 a.m., Jan. 20
A mix of heavy contributions to political campaigns and the diminishing overseas military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan can largely be credited with the militarization of the United States/Mexico border, The American Independent/Texas Independent is reporting.
According to the Associated Press, profits in the defense industry nearly quadrupled since the 9/11 attacks – totaling nearly $25 billion in 2010. In order to keep war profits up absent an actual war, defense contractors are turning to domestic and border security for new, lucrative contracts.
Fueled by increasing drug violence that in some instances is spilling across the border, American politicians, particularly those receiving campaign donations from the defense industry, are pushing for a stronger military-like presence throughout the border region.
San Diego’s General Atomics has been a winner in the battle for federal defense funding. The company and its subsidiaries have been the recipients of “billions of dollars in government contracts over the last decade,” according to the Independent. Just shy of $2.2 billion of over $10 billion has gone toward unmanned aircraft such as the Predator drone and its successor, the Reaper. While the bulk of that funding was provided by the Department of Defense, over $100 million has come from the Department of Homeland Security, paying for things like unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” to monitor the border from the sky.
While General Atomics has been a relative lightweight in the realm of political campaign contributions, spending only $1.8 million since 2004 as compared to fellow defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s $6.5 million, they have invested over $17 million on lobbying dating back to 2005. And General Atomics’ political action committee has given $68,500 so far in the 2012 election cycle to 15 members of the U.S. House Unmanned Systems Caucus, referred to as the “Drone Caucus.” General Atomics CEO Neal Blue and brother Linden have also personally given $4,800 each to Armed Services Committee chair Howard “Buck” McKeon of California’s 25th district, covering a portion of Los Angeles and a large swath of inland Southern California.
The Center for Responsive Politics database reports that a significant portion of General Atomics’ 2011 lobbying was done in support of House Resolution 1540, the controversial National Defense Authorization Act.