Friday, July 11, 2008

Kill, Kill, Kill the Boeing Tanker Project

Letter to the Washington Post, #12

My first letter to the Post in almost three months. Do you think it’ll see print?

Your story, “Pentagon Reopens Tanker Bidding (July 10)” was incomplete. It should have referred to the re-reopening of the bidding for aerial refueling tankers. After all, the first $100 billion award--to Boeing--was cancelled when collusion between a Pentagon purchasing officer and Boeing was exposed. People went to prison for corrupt practices committed during that first bidding process.

The second contract, awarded to a Northrop Grumman/Airbus consortium, was cancelled after a political uproar during which the consortium and Boeing spent millions on dueling ad campaigns, and various elected officials and the General Accounting Office entered the fray.

Now, after hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on engineering, planning, advertising, bidding, administering, collaborating, corrupting, investigating, prosecuting and incarcerating, we’re going to do it all again. And do it for a Pentagon project that is a relic of a Cold War strategy.

We no longer need a whole fleet of aerial refueling tankers because, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we no longer need to keep bombers and fighters airborne 24/7 in order to assure a counter-strike capacity against a massive nuclear first strike.

It therefore seems obvious that ordinary Americans should not be reassured by the notion that the Pentagon will get it right this time. Getting it right would mean not issuing the contract in the first place. $100 billion and change could then be spent on health care, education and mass transit. How much more reassuring would that be?

Jeff Epton
807 Taylor St., NE
Washington, DC 20017

202 506-7470

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