Above: Raytheon Theater at the Patriots Hall of Fame in Foxboro MA
Recently, a colleague here in Durham NC asked me if I was excited about the Super Bowl because I am from New England and the Patriots are in the big game – again. I said no. He was surprised. Being a native of Manchester in the UK and a big Man U supporter made my lack of allegiance hard to understand.
I explained that when I was a child and forming my athletic attachments in the 1970’s, the Red Sox were *it* in Boston. The Patriots (and Celtics) were terrible, and they played in a crappy stadium an hour outside town that no one I knew had ever been to. I said that I had fuzzy yellow Pittsburgh Steelers PJ’s because I loved the Franco Harris Immaculate Reception and John Stallworth’s deep post pattern to the end zone against the Rams in Super Bowl XIV. I never felt much for the Patriots. I took note when Bill Parcells took them to the Super Bowl, but wasn’t disappointed when the Bears won. I did feel a connection to the tragic story of Darryl Stingley, a Patriots wide receiver who was paralyzed during a playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in a preseason game in 1979. But the fact that Oakland coach John Madden of the Raiders was the only one who showed up at the hospital after the game when he went down only served to confirm the impression of an organization nobody cared about because they didn’t care about anybody else.
In more recent years, everybody, it seems, in Boston cares about the Patriots. They had to after they went on a string of Super Bowl wins that made them the 21st century NFL dynasty par excellence. I took more of an interest starting with Super Bowl win #1 in 2001, though I thought their new logo and look made them look like a bunch of Fed Ex couriers.
Like many folks I know, a number of recent events turned me off football in general. There were the revelations about NFL denial of mounting evidence of lasting brain damage to and early death of former players, including the contention of former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson that coach Bill Bellichick had pressured him to return to action after suffering concussions, contributing to debilitating mental problems after his retirement. Former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide due to similar issues. Then there was the collusion of NFL owners to bar Colin Kaepernick from the league following his lead role in the movement to protest police brutality. Most of my local activist friends declared a boycott. So when Bellichick, Robert Kraft (the owner), and Tom Brady (the star Quarterback) all came out for Donald Trump in 2016, it wasn’t hard to stop paying attention.
All this was foreshadowed by a strange moment in Sudbury Massachusetts in 2008. I was driving around this wealthy but depressing suburb of Boston one day when I passed by a large Raytheon building on Boston Post Road. I knew Raytheon was a major weapons manufacturer, and it seemed fittingly American that they would be building missiles out in such a fortress of seemingly bucolic white power and wealth. But I also recalled that Raytheon had just paid for the establishment and naming rights of the Patriots Hall of Fame, which meant that their iconography was held up as a flag of regional identity all over New England. I would hear spots advertising the museum during Patriots broadcasts on the car radio on Sundays, and the refrain became a regional refrain in classic jingle fashion, like the association of Giant Glass windshield replacement service with Red Sox radio broadcasts. Only Raytheon was blowing up glass (and lots of other things and people), not fixing it.
I became more aware of Raytheon’s role in my home region, and started noticing signs of their presence more often. I worked for a year as a teaching assistant at a school in Belmont, MA where one of the kitchen staff had been laid off of the Sudbury weapons manufacturing plant due to cuts during the Clinton administration. Yes, she said, it was strange assembling bombs on a factory line – but the money was good, a lot better than she was making now, working in the kitchen of a private school where Mitt Romney’s campaign manager sent his kids. I taught children of Raytheon employees at a left leaning pro peace / anti racist / anti homophobia progressive Quaker school in Cambridge. (The irony of the contrast was not unfamiliar: the biggest funder of the school on the board of directors got his family wealth from a sweatshop in Puerto Rico.)
11 years later, Raytheon is still doing well for itself, just like the Patriots – only better than ever, thanks to Brady, Kraft, and Bellichick’s candidate, Donald Trump. In a recent post on TomDispatch, weapons industry journalist and author William Hartung reported that stock prices of Raytheon and their peers were rising sharply under the Trump administration. US support for the Saudi Arabian bombing of Yemen has been particularly lucrative: Salon reported last summer that Raytheon’s stock price had risen 94 percent over a three year period after the war began in March of 2015 in a climate of mounting civilian casualties. Trump’s first visit out of the country of the President was to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, and to reassure them that he would roll back Obama’s diplomatic engagement with Iran.
The President was getting some help, however: Obama had also sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and backed their war in Yemen. Congressional Democrats had provided bipartisan support for calls on The Hill to bump up defense spending even beyond what the White House called for. Such bipartisanship has been endemic in Massachusetts for years – the liberal Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry reportedly never voted against a weapons appropriations bill in their careers, because of the jobs it brought to the Bay State.
Perhaps the ultimate emblem of the Patriots-Raytheon connection is the Patriot missile itself, a major icon of the 1991 Gulf War, which I marched against when I was a 20 year old college student. A friend back then who was the singer for a band named Dungbeetle wrote a song about the missile, whose lyrics ran, “You see a missile. I see a dick. We’re both right.” Their image was everywhere. Today, accusations that the Patriot missile’s reputation was built on lies about its effectiveness are but one among the following list of controversies listed on their current Wikipedia page. But these things don’t get as much attention as Deflategate.
As the vast majority of Raytheon’s revenues have been obtained from defense contracts, there has been a tight relationship of cooperation between itself and the U.S. Department of Defense and other U.S. government departments and agencies (e.g. in the Fiscal Year 2007 the National Science Foundation awarded Raytheon $152 million in grants, more than to any other institution and organization in the country, for managing NSF South Pole Station). This, along with heavy lobbying, has led to perennial charges of influence peddling. Raytheon, for instance, contributed nearly a million dollars to various defense-related political campaigns in the presidential election year of 2004, spending much more than that on lobbying expenses. And there are many tight ties between the company and all levels of government. For example, Richard Armitage, a former United States Deputy Secretary of State, is linked to the company through consultancy work. John M. Deutch, a former U.S. Director of Central Intelligence, sits on the board of directors, along with Warren Rudman, a former Senator. On the other hand, Raytheon has also been involved in several contract disputes with the U.S. Government.
Case of illegally obtaining classified information in a bidding process
In March 1990, Raytheon pleaded guilty to one felony count of illegally obtaining classified Air Force budget and planning documents. U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan, Jr. imposed a $10,000 criminal fine for one felony count of “conveyance without authority” and $900,000 in civil penalties and damages. The documents allegedly gave Raytheon an unfair advantage against its competitors in bidding for weapons contracts. Although the plea only involved 1983 Air Force documents, United States Attorney Henry Hudson said Raytheon also illegally obtained a wide range of secret Pentagon documents.
Disputed claims of the Patriot missile
During the 1991 Gulf War, Raytheon received widespread publicity in the United States in connection with its manufacture of the Patriot missile (MIM-104 Patriot). The Patriot missile is an anti-aircraft missile that was upgraded to have some capability against ballistic missiles. The Patriot had allegedly intercepted Scud missiles launched by Iraq in its defense against the U.S.-led invasion. When President George H. W. Bush traveled to Raytheon’s Patriot manufacturing plant in Andover, Massachusetts, during the Gulf War, he declared, the “Patriot is 41 for 42: 42 Scuds engaged, 41 intercepted!” After the Gulf War had concluded, the staff of the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security reported,
- “The Patriot missile system was not the spectacular success in the Persian Gulf War that the American public was led to believe. There is little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War, and there are some doubts about even these engagements. The public and the United States Congress were misled by definitive statements of success issued by administration and Raytheon representatives during and after the war.”
In October 1994, Raytheon paid $4 million to settle a U.S. government claim that it inflated a defense contract for antimissile radar. The PAVE PAWS (Precision Acquisition Vehicle Entry Phased Array Warning System) system was designed to detect incoming submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The government claimed in a federal lawsuit that Raytheon inflated a contract to upgrade two of four PAVE PAWS sites by proposing to hire higher-skilled employees than were necessary for the job.
Just one year earlier, on October 14, 1993, Raytheon paid $3.7 million to settle allegations that it misled the United States Department of Defense by overstating the labor costs involved in manufacturing Patriot missiles. “The recovery of this money is yet another warning to contractors that the Truth in Negotiations Act’s information disclosure requirements will be strictly and sternly enforced,” Frank Hunger, assistant attorney general, said in a statement.
Brazilian SIVAM project
Allegations of bribery were made against Raytheon in 1995 in connection with its efforts to win a 1.4 billion dollar radar contract from Brazil for the SIVAM project. SIVAM, the acronym for “System for Vigilance over the Amazon,” was a complex radar surveillance system for use in monitoring the Amazon rainforest, allegedly to curb the trafficking of narcotics and to curb illegal logging or burning of the forest. Brazilian police wiretapped a telephone conversation between a special advisor to the Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and Raytheon’s operative in Brazil, Jose Afonso Assumpcão. According to transcripts published in the Brazilian national weekly Isto É, when Assumpcão told Gomes dos Santos that Brazilian Senator Gilberto Miranda might block the Raytheon contract, Gomes dos Santos responded, “Damn, did you already pay this guy?”. Gomes dos Santos and Brazil’s aviation minister resigned because of allegations that this conversation suggested that bribes were paid. Nonetheless, Raytheon ultimately was awarded the contract after lobbying by the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton.
In 1996, a corporation called AGES Group filed a lawsuit against Raytheon in a federal court in Alabama over a $450 million contract to service C-12 Huron and U-21 military aircraft. The Boston Herald reported that AGES alleged that the security firm Wackenhut Corporation, hired by Raytheon, used video and audio surveillance to spy on a consulting firm hired by AGES to help it prepare its bid. AGES also alleged that stolen confidential pricing documents were turned over to Raytheon. Both Raytheon and AGES had been vying for the contract, which Raytheon had held for decades but AGES won in 1996. On May 12, 1999, Reuters reported that Raytheon would pay $3 million to AGES Group and purchase $13 million worth of AGES aircraft parts to settle the AGES lawsuit. The settlement was exceptional in that the parties agreed that judgment would be entered against Raytheon, legally establishing the validity of AGES’ allegations.
In October 1999, Raytheon was the subject of a number of securities class action lawsuits alleging it had issued a series of materially false and misleading statements including overstating the company’s 1997 and 1998 revenues, concealing cost overruns and inflating its financial results. The suits were brought in response to a massive drop in value of Raytheon’s common stock as traded on the New York Stock Exchange. On Tuesday, October 12, 1999, Raytheon shares traded at about 45% below their level on October 11, 1999. The plunge in stock prices was triggered by a Wall Street Journal report that Raytheon was over cost or behind schedule on more than a dozen fixed-price defense contracts. This crash represented a loss of about $8 billion in market value in a single day. On May 13, 2004 Raytheon reported that it had reached a preliminary agreement to pay $410 million in cash and securities to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging it misled investors by not disclosing difficulties on various Pentagon and construction projects five years before.
Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management
On April 24, 2006 in a statement released by Raytheon, CEO Swanson admitted to plagiarism in claiming authorship for his booklet, “Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management,” after a report by The New York Times.On May 2, 2006, Raytheon withdrew distribution of the book. The following day, the company’s board of directors announced that “In response to this matter, the Board has decided not to raise Mr. Swanson’s salary above its 2005 level, and will reduce the amount of restricted stock for which he is eligible in the coming year by 20 percent.”
Silent Guardian testing on prisoners
In August 2010, Raytheon announced that it had partnered with a jail in Castaic, California to use prisoners as test subjects for the new non-lethal Silent Guardian active denial system that “[…] penetrates about a 64th of an inch under your skin. That’s about where your pain receptacles are. So it’s what it would feel like if you just opened up the doors of a blast furnace.”
In 2010 Raytheon developed an “extreme-scale analytics” system named Rapid Information Overlay Technology (RIOT), which allows the user to track people’s movements and even predict their behaviour by mining data from social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla, and Foursquare. Raytheon claims that it has not sold this software to any clients, but has shared it with US government and industry. A company spokesperson told PC magazine in 2013 that “Raytheon, as a leader in cybersecurity, offers advanced capabilities to government customers. We’re focused on providing them the best available solutions that meet their constantly evolving requirements.”
Production of depleted uranium weapons
Raytheon has patented a number of weapon designs which allow for the use of depleted uranium. For instance there is the patent “Missile warhead design” (1997) which suggests the use of tungsten but adds that “In addition, other ballast sizes and other materials such as lead or depleted uranium may be used without departing from the scope of the present invention”. There is also the patent “Guided kinetic penetrator” (2005) which patents “9. The projectile guidance system of claim 1, wherein the kinetic penetrator body comprises at least one of tungsten, carbide steel, and depleted uranium”. The patent “Improved missile warhead design”(1998) which patents “2. The invention of Claim 1 wherein the ballast mechanism (16) includes tungsten, lead and/or depleted uranium material(s)”, the “Cluster explosively-formed penetrator warheads” patent (2011) which patents “The spherically-shaped explosive device of claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of liners comprises a material selected from a group consisting of copper, molybdenum, tungsten, aluminum, tantalum, depleted uranium, lead, tin, cadmium, cobalt, magnesium, titanium, zinc, zirconium, beryllium, nickel, silver, and combinations thereof”, and the “Low-collateral damage directed fragmentation munition” patent (2014) which uses a tungsten or uranium ring (“The ring 44 may be made of tungsten or depleted uranium, to give non-limiting examples”) to direct the energy of the weapon.
Two lawsuits were filed against a Raytheon Company plant in St. Petersburg, Florida, due to concern with health risks, property values, and contamination in April 2008. Raytheon was given until the end of the month to independently test whether or not the groundwater that originated from its area was contaminated. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the groundwater contained carcinogeniccontaminants, including trichloroethylene, 1,4-dioxane, and vinyl chloride. The DEP also reported that the clouds contained other toxins, such as lead and toluene.
In 1995, Raytheon acquired Dallas-based E-Systems, including a site in St. Petersburg, Florida. In November 1991, prior to Raytheon’s acquisition, contamination had been discovered at the E-Systems site. Soil and groundwater had been contaminated with the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene and 1,4-Dioxane. In 2005, groundwater monitoring indicated polluted groundwater was moving into areas outside the site.According to DEP documentation, Raytheon has tested wells on its site since 1996 but had not delivered a final report; therefore, it was given a deadline on May 31, 2008 to investigate its groundwater. Contamination in the area has not affected anyone’s drinking water supply or health, yet due to negative local media coverage lawsuits are being filed with claims against Raytheon citing decreases in property values.
In another case, Raytheon was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to treat groundwater at the Tucson Plant (acquired during the merger with Hughes) in Arizona since Raytheon used and disposed metals, chlorinated solvents, and other substances at the plant since 1951. The EPA further required the installation and operation of an oxidation process system to treat the solvents and make the water safe to drink.
On 9 August 2006, The Stream Contact Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, which had a contract with Raytheon at the time, was attacked by protesters. They destroyed the computers, documents, and mainframe of the office, and proceeded to occupy it for eight hours prior to their arrest.
The activists were charged with criminal damage and affray. The trial of six of the accused began May 19, 2008, in the Laganside Courts in Belfast. Colm Bryce, Gary Donnelly, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher, Sean Heaton, Jimmy Kelly, Paddy McDaid and Eamonn O’Donnell were acquitted of all charges on 11 June, with Eamonn McCann found guilty of the theft of two computer discs.