Yesterday President Obama waived freshly minted ethics guidelines barring lobbyists from working in his administration to allow the nomination of Raytheon lobbyist Bill Lynn for deputy Secretary of Defense, the No. 2 position at the Pentagon. At the urging of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Lynn has divested his Raytheon stock so that he would not have to recuse himself from decisions affecting the company. We all know how well that worked out with Cheney and Halliburton.

So what is Raytheon? If you find the world of defense contractors murky, these two links shed some light on their activities. Crocodyl provides current information on corporate accountability, labor relations, environmental and product safety, financial info, etc. CorpWatch provides further background:

Raytheon also makes the “bunker buster” GBU- 28, a 5,000-pound bomb and missiles like the TOW, Maverick and Javelin, used in Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition to missiles, Raytheon also builds sensors and radars used on unmanned and manned reconnaissance airplanes used extensively in Afghanistan.

The company has paid millions of dollars in fines for illegal activities. In October 1994, Raytheon paid $4 million to settle government charges that it had inflated the cost of a $71.5 million radar contract. In October 1993, Raytheon paid out $3.7 million to settle U.S. government charges that it had inflated the cost of Patriot missiles. The year before the company paid out $2.75 million for overpricing missile test equipment. In March 1990, Raytheon pleaded guilty in federal court to Judge Albert Bryan, Jr. in Virginia for illegally obtaining secret Air Force budget and planning documents. The company paid a million dollars in fines. In October 1987, the Justice Department signed on to a $36 million lawsuit originally filed by a former Raytheon employee, which alleged that Raytheon submitted false claims for work done on missiles.

One of Raytheon’s more secretive subsidiaries is E-Systems, whose major clients have historically been the CIA and other spy agencies like the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. An unnamed Congressional aide told the Washington Post once that the company was ”virtually indistinguishable” from the agencies it serves. ”Congress will ask for a briefing from E- Systems and the (CIA) program manager shows up,” the aide is quoted as saying. ”Sometimes he gives the briefing. They’re interchangeable.”

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