Saturday, January 17, 2004

Wes Clark, Making America Better for...Axciom?

I've been trying to figure this Wes Clark thing out. Pretty much a straight Republican up until he entered the Presidential race...what's his motivation? My theories involved his being a stalking horse to keep things in Republican control. However, maybe it's simpler than that. In these anxious times, what better way for a securty technology company to get federal contracts than to have their lobbyist be President of the US?

This from the Center for Public Integrity: link

Two weeks after declaring his intention to run for president, Clark was still registered to represent a high tech contractor, Acxiom Corporation, giving him the rare distinction of seeking the White House while registered as a lobbyist. Shortly after Clark announced his candidacy, a company spokesman said the general no longer lobbied for Acxiom, but, according to the Senate Office of Public Records, Clark had not filed any termination papers.

Clark has been lobbying for the firm since January 2, 2002; Acxiom has paid more than $830,000 for Clark to advance its agenda and meet with government officials. Clark also serves on the company's board of directors.

According to federal disclosure records, Clark lobbied directly on "information transfers, airline security and homeland security issues," for Acxiom, which sought funding to do controversial informational background checks on passengers for airlines. Privacy advocates have criticized the program, called the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System II, because of concerns that the data collected would be an overly invasive violation of individuals' rights to privacy. The public outcry has been so strong that there is a bi-partisan effort to create more oversight for the program to protect privacy interests if CAPPS II is implemented.

Clark lobbied the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Transportation for the company. Clark also reported, on his lobbyist disclosure forms, that he promoted Acxiom to the Senate and the executive office of the president. According an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report, he even met personally with Vice President Richard Cheney.

He also made a pitch for the kind of tracking that the company's wares can perform while acting as a commentator on CNN. On January 6, 2002, four days after filing as a lobbyist for Acxiom, Clark told an interviewer, in response to worries that private planes could be used for terrorist attacks, "We've been worried about general aviation security for some time. The aircraft need to be secured, the airfields need to be secured, and obviously we're going to also have to go through and do a better job of screening who could fly aircraft, who the private pilots are, who owns these aircraft. So it's going to be another major effort."

Naturally, he did not reveal to CNN's viewers that the company he lobbied for had a substantial stake in this issue.

Guess Wes went to the same business school as Dick Cheney.


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