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Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles

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posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 04:39 PM
Another article.

It has always been fairly well known that prisoners make everything from street signs, park benches -- and yes, license plates -- to office furniture for federal agencies like the VA and DoD (this last example being to the continuing consternation of Representative Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, whose district is home to Steelcase (SCS), Herman Miller (MLHR), and Haworth), but the Bureau of Prisons' PAC-3 missile program has gone largely unnoticed -- until now.

For the record, federal prisoners are making more than missile components. Inmates also make cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing (BA) F-15, the General Dynamics (GD)/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron's (TXT) Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle's laser rangefinder.

As it turns out, this practice has been hiding in plain sight for two decades; detailed in Unicor's annual report each year, highlighted in its brochures, and explained in depth -- although buried several pages deep -- on The missile components made by prisoners are needles in haystacks of thousands of parts, often contracted and subcontracted out endlessly. The organization's annual reports aren't exactly making any New York Times best-seller lists, and the website receives so few visitors, Quantcast, the Internet metrics firm, is unable to provide traffic data.

With that in mind, the Unicor/Patriot missile connection took some of the top defense analysts in America by surprise.

"It's kind of mind-boggling and hair-raising to find out a major component of a national security system is being made in prisons," says William Hartung, PhD, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, member of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, and author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2010).

"For one thing, just the symbolism of it, God forbid, the global publicity -- I don't think using prison labor to build missiles reflects very well not just on Lockheed Martin, but on the United States," he says. "We're supposed to be a beacon of freedom and holding up the values of the free market. I can't think of an example that contrasts that more starkly than doing this kind of thing."

While sourcing components from prisons is perfectly legal, the idea makes Hartung more than a little uncomfortable.

"It just doesn't smell right to me," he continues. "It's really on the cutting-edge of questionable practices. The fact that it does an end-run around organized labor is a problem. There's no greater restriction on a worker's rights than being stuck in prison."

The actual logistical arrangement between Lockheed, Unicor, and the Pentagon is quite murky. In response to a request for details, Craig Vanbebber, of the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control division, "did quite a bit of research into… FPI/Unicor's role on the PAC-3 missile system," and it "appears that they are a supplier to the US Government, not a direct supplier to Lockheed Martin." This is even more unsettling to some, and of course, doesn't change the fact that Lockheed PAC-3s include parts made by prisoners, whether they are on the company's direct payroll or not.

Even some in the military are scratching their heads about this.

posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 04:42 PM
I really don't think this is a bad thing.
For many prisoners, work duty is one of the things that keeps them mentally healthy, by giving them a feeling of worth.

Not to mention, it does give them a skill set for when they are released.
They may be able to come out of prison with something to put on a resume.

That being said, I do not agree with the number of people being locked up for non-violent offenses.

Odd thing is, I wonder if these people who work on these missile components could get a job with the same company once released, or would they be ineligible due to a criminal record? That would be ironic.

posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 04:50 PM
reply to post by Oaktree

But something doesn't seem right when the President is in charge of this. The President appoints the board members who run this billion dollar a year prisoners building bombs program. I can imagine all those muslim converts in prison loving thetraining they recieved in prison when they get out. Thats perfect for the resume for al qaeda. I hear they have a problem keeping good bomb makers.

posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 05:59 PM
reply to post by JBA2848

You bring up an interesting issue.

The missiles are then marketed worldwide — sometimes by Washington’s top officials. Last year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pitched the Patriots to the Turkish government last year, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals: “SecDef stressed that ‘nothing can compete with the PAC-3 when it comes to capabilities.’”

That may be the bigger issue, our Sec. of Defense playing salesman for the arms makers.
Wonder what his commission is?

posted on Mar, 8 2011 @ 06:05 PM
reply to post by Oaktree

This story has a lot of things wrong with it. I just pointed out some that jumped out at me. The whole thing is a can of worms. Even the defense contractors are scratching there heads about whats going on. The DOD has nobody in charge of this or atleast listed on the board members list. It says vacant. The other members appointed by the President would be members of the Department of Justice ,Department of Homeland Security, so on.

posted on Mar, 9 2011 @ 03:48 AM
This is the new face of america folks, get used to it.
The system has been in place so long it is firmly entrenched.
There will be no getting this under control im afraind.The privatization of the prisons is simply another step in the same direction.
I imagine that Raytheon or other corps could concievably invest in a few prisons which would the produce raytheon systems or components.
The whole scheme could be repeated as many times as there are corporations.
The "workforce"may vary but there will be lots of repeat offenders too...Im sure the corporations would love a deal like this......

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