Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell: “We are trying to break” the Iron Triangle
Q Yesterday the Center for Public Integrity came out with a report about the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense saying that 12 out of 16 members are basically in the pocket of the industry that they mapped out all these revolving doors in the lobby and they called it the worst of Washington’s revolving-door culture.
So given that the president has said he was going to come to town and clean up lobbying, and the secretary has said that you guys are trying to clean up contracting in this building, first of all, has there been any reaction from the secretary? Has he seen this report? And secondly, why should the American people think that anything’s going to be different this time around, given that as soon as you come back to town in Congress, some such report comes out?
MR. MORRELL: Frankly, I haven’t seen the report. I frankly barely followed the question as you were asking it. (Laughs.) But I think the gist of it is — I think the gist of it is that you’re saying that members of Congress have had a cozy relationship with lobbyists. Is that it?
Q Right. That’s — yeah, three-quarters of Murtha’s subcommittee, they say, are in the pocket of the defense industry, that there’s a —
MR. MORRELL: Well, I don’t know what that means. I — I don’t know what that means, “in the pocket of the defense industry.” And if it’s —
Q Well, I’ll tell you. They map out the —
MR. MORRELL: Okay. I haven’t seen the report, so I really hesitate to comment on it. So if you want to address this to the people who are criticized in the report, which seem to be members and those who support their campaigns, I would urge you to do so.
All I can tell you is that the president has made it very clear about what he wants to do with regards to defense contracting and government contracting overall, and that is to reform it, to clean it up, to make it more — to make it of greater value to the taxpayers so that there is not a waste of their hard-earned dollars, and to make sure that things are done ethically and appropriately. And that’s what we are committed to in this building.
That’s what the secretary is committed to. That’s what Bill Lynn is committed to. And we’re working on it.
It won’t be changed overnight. But we are putting in place measures that we hope will go a long way to changing that dynamic. I mean, I would refer you to his remarks in Chicago where he talked about, you know, the sort of iron triangle of Congress and industry and the bureaucracy in this building conspiring together to promote business as usual.
And we are trying to break that tight bond between those three, and try to have this building be more responsive to the needs of the war fighter, and also give the taxpayers more for their money. And that’s what our focus is on right now.