Calling Them Out: War Profiteer Steven R. Loranger

Thursday, 26 August 2010 13:43 By Nick Mottern, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis | name.

Calling Them Out: War Profiteer Steven R. Loranger
The Colonial Williamsburg fife and drum corps lead AIA members to dinner on May 26, 2010 at their annual board of governors and membership meeting. (Image: AIA)

War profiteering is defined by Stuart Brandes in his book "Warhogs, a History of War Profits in America," as "a gain in economic well-being obtained as a result of military conflict."

As he shows, there is a long history of war profiteering in the United States and an equally long history of public disgust for it. One of the most quoted expressions of this disgust came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II: "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster."

Brandes also notes there was a time when war was exceptional and war profiteering a nasty exceptional thing that accompanied it. But after World War II, the United States moved more and more to a status of permanent war.

In his new book "Washington Rules," former Army Col. Andrew Bacevich says a group of "semi-warriors" ... "some in uniform, others in suits," operators in the military-industrial complex, had by 1961 "gained de facto control of the U.S. government."

With this change, profiting from war has become permanent, so much a part of business life in the United States that it is accepted as normal. While US military people die in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan along with residents of those countries, the CEOs of US military suppliers receive personal incomes of millions of dollars a year.

This first article in the Calling Them Out series focuses on Steven R. Loranger, head of ITT Corporation, simply because his company is based in Westchester County, New York, where I live and because I heard of its work on bomb releases for drone aircraft.

Loranger does not appear to be the most gross war profiteer. Indeed, he and others you will read about here seem to be typical of a group of individuals who are benefiting hugely from our wars, who are exempt from the sacrifices being imposed by the wars and who see no conflict of interest in lobbying to continue the wars.

It has been said that all politics is local. It is also true that all politics is personal. The people reported on in this series are individuals with their own private compulsions for wealth, power and extremely comfortable living, who have come together to be a major force, if not the major force behind Congressional support for our wars.

Steven R. Loranger - ITT Corporation

1. Pay

Loranger is chairman, president and CEO of ITT Corporation, one of the top 10 US military contractors as listed by Defense Systems.com. Loranger, 58, was paid $13,844,981 in 2009, according to ITT 2010 Proxy report. In addition, he received $213,048 for sitting on the board of directors of the FedEx Corporation, according to Forbes.com, bringing his income for 2009 to roughly $14 million. His ITT pay package in 2008 was $12.6 million.

The annual base pay for Adm. Mike Mullen, 63, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US military, is about $240,000 a year, and that of E-2 enlisted personnel is about $20,000 a year. The UN reports that the annual income of non-poppy-growing farmers in Afghanistan is about $2,000 a year.

The following questions were submitted to Loranger through the ITT press office:

Given the disparity between your annual income and that of individuals in the US military, do you see an ethical problem with accepting your current level of pay compared to military income while our current wars are underway, and would you explain your reasoning? Would you object to being called a war profiteer, and if so why?

Do you believe it is a conflict of interest for ITT to lobby for continued war funding when ITT stands to be a direct beneficiary of that funding, and would you explain your thinking on this?

An ITT press spokesperson said that ITT provides information on Loranger's compensation on the company web site, which contains the 2010 Proxy statement, and that there would be no other comment.

2. Residence

Loranger and his wife Betsy have a large, brick, Tudor home on 1.4 acres in Greenwich, Connecticut, purchased for $4 million in 2004, the same year he came to head ITT from his position as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Texton Inc., also a major military contractor.

Loranger home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Loranger home in Greenwich, Connecticut. (Photo: Nick Mottern)

The house is in a secluded neighborhood comprised of large, elegant, beautifully maintained and landscaped homes bordering the Long Island Sound. The atmosphere is one of extreme gentility, separation and quiet. Loranger's street, though apparently a public way, has a gate at one end blocking through traffic. The speed bumps in the neighborhood are gently graded, painted white and marked by simple, square, white posts, painted with blue, Times-Roman-style lettering announcing: "Bump." Stop signs are in white with the same blue lettering.

3. The Military Work of ITT

ITT, according to its web site, derives 58 percent of its income, over $6.3 billion in 2009, from its military contracts. The company produces a variety of military electronic gear, such as jammers for signals used to set off land mines, communications equipment, night vision equipment and munitions release mechanisms for aircraft, including bomb releases for 1,000 lb. bombs carried by Predator drones.

Last modified on Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02