More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel are making top dollar selling their expertise to nations infamous for repression and human rights abuses, a new multi-part Washington Post investigation revealed.
Since 2015, more than 500 approvals have been rubber-stamped for retired personnel, including many generals and admirals, to take paychecks from leaders denounced in the west, the Post reported.
Evidence was reported that many more veterans likely took foreign jobs but didn’t get required federal approval, and there is no criminal penalty for that, according to the Post.
Salary and benefit packages for these positions can stretch into six and seven figures, far exceeding what can be earned on active duty for the U.S., according to the Post. A few American officers reportedly negotiated foreign jobs while still on active duty.
The military’s former top brass is often called upon to make appearances debating national security, but they rarely disclose their sources of foreign income, according to Brandon Brockmyer, director of investigations and research for the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.
“The public is working on the assumption that their sole loyalty is to the United States,” Brockmyer told the Post. “The public has the right to know whether and how a foreign power has access to their expertise.”
The Post reports that foreign money has long influenced U.S. institutions, but the hiring of its military retirees has ramped up in recent years as Persian Gulf monarchies go big on defense spending and strengthen Pentagon relationships.
Almost two-thirds of foreign jobs taken since 2015 have been in the Middle East and North Africa. The most popular job market is for military contractors and consultants in the United Arab Emirates, with 280 retirees hired there, the Post reported.
Twenty-five retirees took posts in Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused by U.S. intelligence agencies of approving the 2018 killing of dissenting journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Retired Gen. James Jones, who expanded his Saudi business ties after the killing, said the event “shocked and surprised” him, but he doesn’t “know what the alternative would have been if we had pulled away.”
“I was worried that [the Saudis] would possibly drift off to other relationships with the Chinese and the Russians, and I didn’t think that would be very good,” he told the Post.