Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Drones, General Atomics, and Senator Feinstein: The Unmanned Three-Way

CodePink Demonstration against General Atomics Predator Drones

The top ranking recipient of General Atomics campaign contributions isn’t a member of the infamous “drone caucus” (Congressional Caucus on Unmanned Systems). General Atomics is the leading producer and promoter of  drones used by the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department, and the CIA.
Senator Diane Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) contributions from General Atomics easily placed her at the top of the list. Feinstein, who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, was also favored in the campaign contributions by Linden Blue, the president of General Atomics. (See Figure 4)
Senator Feinstein has been a highly consistent supporter of the intelligence community and military budgets. Her failure to oppose the clandestine drone strikes ordered by the White House and CIA have sparked widespread criticism by those who argue the strikes are unconstitutional, illegal under international law and counterproductive as a counterterrorism tactic.
In 2012, General Atomics was Feinstein’s third largest campaign contributor, while other leading contributors were the military contractors General Dynamics (from which General Atomics emerged), BAE Systems and Northrup Grumman. Feinstein’s connections to General Atomics extend beyond being top recipient of their campaign contributions. Rachel Miller, a former (2003-2007) legislative assistant for Feinstein, has served as a paid lobbyist for General Atomics, both working directly for the firm (in 2011) and as a General Atomics lobbyist employed by Capitol Solutions (2009 - present), one of the leading lobbying firms contracted by General Atomics.
And did you know that Linden Blue plans to marry Retired Rear Adm. Ronne Froman? Few others knew about the engagement of this high-society San Diego couple until Senator Feinstein announced the planned marriage at a mid-November 2012 meeting of the downtown San Diego business community news that quickly appeared the Society pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune. There has been no explanation offered why Feinstein broke this high-society news, but the announcement certainly did point to the senator’s likely personal connections to Blue and Froman (who was hired by General Atomics as senior vice-president in December 2007 and has since left the firm).
Campaign contributions and personal connections create goodwill and facilitate contracts. General Atomics also counts on the results produced by a steady stream of lobbying dollars – which have risen dramatically since 2003, and been averaging $2.5 million annually since 2005. In 2012, General Atomics spent $2,470,000 lobbying Congress.
General Atomics, Campaign Contributions (2012 cycle)
Top Individual Recipients
Diane Feinstein (D)                  $54,750
Buck McKeon (R)                      $38,800
Jerry Lewis (R)                           $22,400
Duncan Hunter (R)                   $16,450
Brian Bilbray (R)                       $13,250


Linden Blue, President of General Atomics
Campaign Contributions (2012 cycle)
Top Individual Recipients
Buck, McKeon                                                $7,100
Duncan Hunter                                             $3,950
Diane Feinstein                                             $3,500
Mitt Romney                                                  $2,450
Jerry Lewis                                                     $1,000                       

For more information and references, see: Drones Over the Homeland, April 2013, at

For more information and references, see: Drones Over the Homeland, April 2013, at

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