Sunday, February 12, 2006

"War -what is it good for?"

"As on a May morning, on Malvern hills,
Me byfel a ferly of fairy, me thought".
Langland's PIERS PLOWMAN had a vision
of rich and poor striving for wealth and gluttony.
Nowadays he'd see laid out beneath Malvern
the former DERA establishment, now QinetiQ,
and part of Carlyle Group.

It's the economy, stupid. Well, it is for some people

Carlyle group floats QinetiQ shares

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

QinetiQ plays an important part in the war on terrorism, ...We are ideally placed to help government authorities and private companies address the numerous security challenges faced in many environments, ranging from Aviation and Maritime Security to Corporate and IT Security, Law Enforcement, Resilience and Defence."

CARLYLE is the US private equity group that was dubbed "the president's club" with George Bush senior, Colin Powell and former US Secretary of State James Baker III on the board, and former US Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci as chairman. Specialising in buying up war industry it has done pretty well out of the military spending boom since 9/11 and America's "war on terror"; ironic, since the Bin Laden family were major shareholders till someone decided it didn't look good.

In 2003 Carlyle bought a 31 per cent stake in QinetiQ, the company carved out of Britain's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, for £42 million. Some 4,000 jobs were lost in the past few years, but profits grew. At least 80 per cent of QinetiQ's work remains for the British government, though it also has US contracts.

On Friday, February 10, QinetiQ was floated on the stock exchange for the first time and since investors don't fear peace will break out in the foreseeable future, shares priced at 200p moved up to 213p as they rushed to buy.
Carlyle was able to raise £160 million and still holds a £180 million stake in the company. QinetiQ executives Sir John Chisholm and Graham Love saw the shares for which they each paid a few hundred thousand pounds now worth well over £20 million. So, if you'd had a few hundred thousand to spare a few years back, and seen which way the wind blew you could have done the same. Mind you, it would have helped if you'd already been in there, and known the right people.

Carlyle's began as a company in September 1987. Founders Stephen Norris and David Rubinstein had done well in brokerage dealings and knowing tax loopholes. They called it after the Carlyle hotel in New York, to give it a luxury image. Carlyle didn't sell shares to just anybody, but drew big name politicians and big private investors.

It was in November that year that President Reagan promoted security adviser Frank Carlucci to be secretary of Defense. He wasn't in the job long, but he was able to re-organise the Pentagon's procurement system. Useful experience. He also made 13 trips abroad. In January 1989, six days after quitting Defense, Carlucci joined the Carlyle.Group.

Fred Malek had joined Carlyle in September 1988, after resigning as chairman of the Republican National Committee. There had been reports that while working for Nixon he compiled figures on the number of Jews working in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Malek, a friend of George Bush senior, found a place for young George Dubya on the board of Caterair, a Carlyle subsidiary, in February 1990. It was not a great success, and George Dubya left it off his resume when running for governor of Texas in 1994.

The following year Carlyle sold off Caterair for less than it had acquired it, leaving the falling airline catering business to concentrate on its core arms and security interests. It had bought BDM Consulting, a defence consultancy, with useful expertise for defence buyouts in 1990. Via BDM it also bought Vinnel Corp, a construction company that had branched out into training the Saudi National Guard. BDM had been accused by rivals of buying influence in the Pentagon, by hiring the wife of a naval officer in charge of procurement, Melvyn Paisley. Paisley was later convicted in corruption investigations, but BDM was not badly affected.

The following year Carlyle acquired an interest in Harsco, manufacturers of military vehicles, which enabled it eventually to buy United Defense. Soon after this it acted as broker for Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia to buy $590 million stock in Citicorp, America's largest bank. In 1992 Carlyle together with Northrop-Grunman won control of LTV Corp's defense and aerospace division, selling its holding on to Northrop two years later.

In February 1993, Richard Darman who had been director of the Office of Management and Management in the outgoing Bush administration joined Carlyle, and the following month he was joined by former Secretary of State James Baker. Later that year George Soros invested $100 million in Carlyle Partners II.

Though George Dubya. may have been coy over his career with Carlyle's less successful ventures, a few weeks after he became governor of Texas the University of Texas Investment Management Company placed a $10 investment in the Carlyle Group.

In September 1997, Carlyle bought United Defense for $850 million, one of the company’s largest buyouts ever. United Defense has plans to build the Army a 60-ton mobile howitzer called Crusader.

In March 1998, former Tory prime minister John Major joined Carlyle as European adviser. He went on to become chairman of Carlyle Europe in May 2001. In May 1999—Former US President George Herbert Walker Bush visited South Korea on behalf of Carlyle, cultivating business and political ties that resulted in Carlyle’s investing more than $1 billion in South Korea’s struggling economy.

In July 1999, former Connecticut State Treasurer Paul Silvester had to resign a position at Park Strategies after the FBI launched an investigation into a series of investments he made with Connecticut State Pension funds before he left office. Among the investments is a $50 million placement with Carlyle Asia. In September Silvester pleaded guilty to corruption. But in January 2001, SBC Communications, a Carlyle client, gained FCC approval to offer long-distance phone service in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, after the US Justice Department had rejected the company’s request. Approval was given on the last day of FCC Chairman William Kennard’s tenure. Three months later, Kennard was given a job at Carlyle.

September 11, 2001 came the attacks on the World Trade Centre and though less devastatingly, the Pentagon. Carlyle companies stood to do well from increased military spending in the "war on terror" and more immediately security contarcts such as clearing supposed anthrax threats. But news reports about the bin Laden family's involvment in Caryle forced them to luiqidate these holdings. .

In December 2001 Carlyle floated United Defence shares after newly approved military spending temporarily secured the Crusader project. The company earned $237 million in one day on the sale of shares, and on paper made more than $800 million. In April 2002, Cynthia McKinney, a Democratic congresswoman from Georgia called for an investigation into the September 11 attacks, pointing out the President’s extensive ties with the Carlyle Group.

In May 2002 the US Army was forced to investigate whether its own officials illegally lobbied Congress in support of the Crusader in the face of the program’s cancellation. In August 2002 United Defense announced the cancellation of the Crusader program, but said it had won the contract to build another gun that would replace Crusader.

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, a former chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, associate of Lord Hurd and adviser to John Major, now an adviser to Tory leader David Cameron, became chair of QinetiQ while still on the BBC board of governors. A supporter of the war in Iraq who disapproved of BBC critical reporting, she was one of the "two posh ladies" who ex-BBC chair Greg Dyke blamed for his resignation. (The other being Sarah Hogg, former head of John Major's policy advisory unit) Some people asked how QinteiQ and Dame Pauline's defence interests tallied with BBC "independence". The dame denied Dyke's claims, but resigned herself a month befor her term as governor was completed.,6903,1318577,00.html

Dame Pauline, who did well helping NatWest Markets advise accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic on Serbia's telecomms privatisation, owned a 0.04 per cent stake in QinteiQ acquired at the same time as Carlyle bought in. She served as non-executive chairman for four years, retiring last summer, and was paid a salary of £135,000 in 2005-06. It is thought she would have paid no more than £60,000 for her holding, but with flotation it should be worth at least £440,000 giving her a profit of at least £380,000.

If you'd like that kind of money you could always try the national lottery.

For more info. on QinetiQ, its website is

And now here's a little plug for the latest piece of ingenuity from QinetiQ:

QinetiQ exploding ink could enable point-and-click fuses

UK defense contractor QinetiQ has filed a patent for an explosive ink that could allow fuses to be designed on a computer and then printed directly onto ordinary paper. The ink is stable when wet, and only becomes active when a current is fed through a metal strip placed on top of the printed fuse. Once the fuse is activated, it can be used to trigger just about any kind of explosive device, from fireworks to munitions. (We don't even want to know what happens if you get a paper jam.) Somehow, we expect the defense industry to do its best to keep this one under lock and key, and we sort of hope they succeed, if only so we can avoid having to wait as TSA officials disassemble our portable inkjet every time we pass through customs.
I'm just waiting to see if Abu Hamza had any of this on order. The press keeps reporting "discoveries" made under Finsbury Park mosque, though he'd been ousted from there long before he was arrested.
I know the Bin Ladens disowned their prodigal son Osama and have given up their share in Carlyle holdings.
But I'd be careful of anyone offering to flog me hooky printer ink right now. What happens if there's a heat-making paper jam?

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