General James “Mad Hog” Mattis: A Typical Trump Appointment

theranos-holmesAs a Marine my initial impression was that Mad Hog was a good appointment as secretary of defense. I had read somewhere after it was first announced that he was not like the other generals who left service in retirement. He was substantially different. A bachelor and a scholar of military history. The article I read spoke of his independence and unwillingness to be like those who sold their souls to the industries surviving on military contracts.

I heard he had a stellar reputation. He reportedly served the American people from 1969 to 2013 a period of 44 years. It was actually 41 years because he did not go on active service until 1972.  He retired on May 22, 2013, three and a half years ago. I pictured him sitting at home studying his books and living on his $237,144 yearly pension while shaking his head at those other greedy bastards who sold themselves to the highest bidder. A true patriot and man of the people.

Then I learned the truth. It turned my stomach to learn he is probably worse than the others. He has turned himself into an industry whore seeking to benefit the people employing him and himself by using his military connections to get contracts for his new bosses. I feel so bad that he went for the big bucks. I now question where his loyalties lie. What will do once he has control of the defense department?

Just recently at a friend’s house in Maine I was telling how great it was that Maddis had been nominated for the position. I explained how after he served in the Marines he was not tempted to sell himself to some private industry so he could use his connections with his underlings to get good deals for himself and his company.

Maybe it is just me that gets turned off by these people constantly ripping off the taxpayers by using inside connections to help their new best friend get contracts they can not get competing on the merits. I know it is common practice. Inside dealings will become more common under the president-elect but it still turns me off seeing all the undeserving pigs at the government trough.

Are you aware as noted here the Pentagon has buried “an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations.” The Pentagon spends $134 billion dollars a year not on preparation for war but on  “core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”  You want to know why. It’s because of hogs like Mattis.

Mad Hog went to work for General Dynamics three months after retiring gaining a position on its board of directors. General Dynamics is a big military contractor and as noted here “a $30-billion colossus that heavily relies on Pentagon contracts overseen by the Defense Secretary.” which is vying to get its share of the budget. He has received from General Dynamics in his three years almost $600,000 in salary and $900, 00 in company stock.

You know one thing, General Dynamics is not a charity. It expects a good return on its money. While working there Mad Hog went before Congress saying the caps on spending were jeopardizing our national security.

It gets worse. He was pushing a company’s product while in a command position and then went to work for the company, Theranos, two months after retiring. In 2012 while the head of operations in the Middle East and Central Asia he pressured the Army to buy Theranos blood testing equipment which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use. Last year Theranos was warned by the FDA to stop using an uncleared blood collection device.

Mattis and the president of Theranos 27-year-old Eizabeth Holmes (shown above)  met in 2011 at a Marine Memorial event. Mattis, was smitten. Despite being busy overseeing the war in Afghanistan as commander of the U.S. Central Command, he expressed interest in testing Theranos’s technology in combat areas, according to the e-mails. “I’ve met with my various folks and we’re kicking this into overdrive,” Mattis wrote to Holmes in June 2012. “I’m convinced that your invention will be a game-changer for us and I want it to be given the opportunity for a demonstration in-theater soonest.

Mattis knew nothing about the field. Theranos “was running most of its tests on devices made by other firms instead of its own “breakthrough” technology.”  Here you can read more. There’s more here and here.

I had Mattis on a pedestal until I saw he was just another military hog. Bad enough he signed with General Dynamics but what about while in charge pushing an untested device to be used in combat when lives were on the line. I wonder what and how Theranos paid him.

I guess you could say that Ike was very prescient. Does capitalism really ruin a man’s soul? Are there no good men left?

24 thoughts on “General James “Mad Hog” Mattis: A Typical Trump Appointment

  1. From The Nation (Decmeber 2016): “Mattis has a passion for corporate boards—he’s also on the board of General Dynamics, the major defense contractor. As Lee Fang wrote for The Nation in 2014, earning $88,479 in cash and stock options just in 2013. That grew to $264,070 in 2015, the last year for which there is data.” A lot of money, but less than millions!

  2. WSJ says Mattis joined Theranos in July 2013.
    2. Other “bad persons” on Theranos’ Board of Directors: William Perry (former Secretary of Defense), Sam Nunn (former U.S. Senator), Bill Frist (former U.S. Senator and heart-transplant surgeon), Gary Roughead (Admiral, USN, retired); Schultz and Kissinger; all of whom have equal or more contacts inside government to “push products” than Mattis.
    Yes, Ike was right about the Military-Industrial Complex, but how about the Medicare-Medicaid-Va-Health Services Industrial Complex?
    Clean the Swamp, O.K., but don’t persecute Mattis as a proverbial scapegoat. Don’t we decry “selective prosecution”, like going after probation officers for hiring “not the most qualified.”

  3. Further info (from another site): “In July 2015, Mattis ended up joining Theranos’ board of directors after he retired from the Marine Corps, but faced a restriction. A defense department counsel told Mattis that he could not discuss the potential pilot test of Theranos’ device in Afghanistan in front of the DOD or Department of the Navy as long as he was on the company’s board.”

  4. I remember reading ‘War Is a Racket’ by Smedley D. Butler, a retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two-time Medal of Honor recipient. Based on his extraordinary career military experience, Butler frankly discusses how business interests commercially benefit (including war profiteering) from warfare. Still do in the 21st century.

  5. Hutch: Merry Christmas!
    The U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command had serious questions and had contacted the FDA which indicated Theranos’ technology had not been approved. I understand the Army’s MR&MC rejected the proposal.

    According to the Washington Post, the field demonstration of Theranos’ technology never took place.
    Here’s a quote from another article:
    “Internal military emails reveal that to follow up, Mattis personally called a major general at Fort Detrick — the home of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which oversees and executes medical research, the Post said.
    During that month, Lt. Col. David Shoemaker, a military regulatory expert, wrote to an official at the Food and Drug Administration with questions about the company’s regulatory strategy. The FDA official, whose identity was redacted from the emails, wrote that ‘bottom line, Theranos is not FDA compliant. … We will be following up with them and recommending a path forward so that they come into compliance.'”
    I also learned that late in 2012, Mattis had a “15 minute meeting” with medical personnel, where additional problems were raised. Mattis retired in 2013. He went to serve on the board of Theranos. Before he did, he got a DOD ethical clearance to do so, provided he not lobby on behalf of Theranos’ field testing blood technology.
    Like I wrote: I see no problem: he saw a promising technology; he asked it be legally and ethically expedited. He retired; it was still being investigated; it never won approval. (although Theranos lobbyists continued to push for it for sometime after Mattis retired.)

  6. Why was a troop commander involved in procurement decisions on untested equipment? Were the GIs to be the test group? When you say the “Army” rejected it–who is the “Army”?

  7. Matt:

    Good, heads up. I thought Mattis was too good to be true. Watch out for a new Hallburton/KBR type scam. Iraq War II is going to be a money-making operation.

  8. Wa-llahi! Merry X-Mass to everybody.


    What’s the doings for Christmas Eve back on the Sod? It’s strange over here. It doesn’t seem like the holiday I remember. In Lebanon, it’s common for Muslim folks to celebrate the miracle of Issa’s virgin birth right along with their Christian neighbors. Lot’s of visiting and eating. The ambiance is different over there, not so much a celebration of bourgeois consumerism, like here in the States. Everybody enjoys giving and receiving presents, but, folks don’t lose sight of the spiritual gift of X-Mass.

  9. Ed Jewett has a current piece on Generals appointed by Trump
    at his blog thesullenbell. dot com

    Military grade remote viewers Daz Smith/England and Dick Algire/Hawaii
    will be out with their results for January 2017 on December 30, 2017
    at the farsight institute

    writing from somewhere in a place called Maine

  10. Matt
    Have you already written about the Teddy Deegan murder and framing of innocent men? Or written about Joe Barboza testimony that he later wanted to recant. I have read through much of the first 135 pages (the summary of the findings) and it is very confusing. I have no idea who to believe and who actually killed Teddy Deegan let alone who ordered the hit. Joe Barboza testimony and just how much of it was counseled by law enforcement is also complex no?The Committee does seem to refer to Judge Wolf case of Salemme vs USA a lot too. THANKS

    1. Roger,
      It is a relatively simple matter complicated by persons who deliberately did so. Basic facts: Barboza and Vincent “Jimmy” Flemmi wanted to hit Deegan. Barboza said he was offered a contract by Limone to do it. They had to clear it with Mafia. FBI bug showed Patriarca telling them they had to clear it with local Mafia guy Gerry Angiulo.
      To clear a hit you had to go to the guy under the boss who would go to the boss. Under Patriarca was Henry Tameleo and under Angiulo that would be Peter Limone. Barboza testified they cleared the hit which probably was correct given what was known about Mafia procedure and the bug.
      Barboza wanted to keep his buddy Flemmi from being implicated so he put Joe Salvati in his place. Flemmi was bald so he said Salvati was wearing a bald wig. A bald man was seen in back of the car that was involved in the hit. Except for the insertion of Salvati for Flemmi there is little reason to disbelieve anything else about Barbosa’s testimony. Six men were convicted: Limone, Tameleo, Ronald Cassesso, Wilfred French, Salvati, and Louis Greco. Some say Greco had a good alibi being in Florida at the time of the hit but Barboza did not put him at the scene of the hit.
      Seven days after Deegan’s hit an FBI memo had it that Cassesso, Martin, Flemmi and Barboza committed the hit. They did it by having French and another person set him up. At the time the FBI was happy to keep Flemmi out of it since it was trying to line him up as an informant. Eventually three of the four Mafia guys would be exonerated because they leaped upon the setting up of Salvati and the idea the FBI let an innocent guy go to prison; although the other three may well have been guilty.
      Wolf’s decision you can find on line. It is 600 some odd pages long but it too gives a good outline of the matter. The idea that Greco, LImone, and Tameleo were framed is farfetched but it has been accepted as a reaction to the FBI’s skullduggery . The hit had to be sanctioned and FBI bugs showed that it was.

  11. Matt,
    1. Both Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former members of the Board of Theranos, will have to be added to the “bad persons” list.
    2. Note this email from Mattis to fellow officers regarding Theranos’ promising new, potentially life-saving technology : “I have tried to get this device tested in theater asap, legally and ethically.”
    3. As for the 25% of the Pentagon’s budget that is “administrative waste”, please note that occurs under the Obama Administration.

    1. Bill:

      1. They differ since neither one was connected to the military and were unlikely to have military contacts to foist unnecessary and expensive equipment on the government.

      2. Mattis had not idea about the device which was shown to be not effective. He was doing a favor for the woman. He did send the email and pressure the Army which rejected it. You would think a general in a combat area would not be pitching devices he knew nothing about.

      3. The Mattis type action has been ongoing long before Obama. The military/industrial swap was what Eisenhower warned against. Blaming it on Obama is the type of thinking that caused people to vote for Trump as if nothing bad happened before Obama.

      1. Ike was right: OK, blame it all Presidents since Ike. Merry, Merry Christmas . . . to be continued

  12. “Day of the Dumb” Based on the non-fiction dystopian classic by Truman Mailer Talese and filmed on location in an undisclosed borough of New Guyana City.

    Plot Summary: A computer network-borne virus called “alt-reitbart,” infects tens of million of Americans, transforming them into credulous, snopes-tale devouring zombies, who will believe whatever the virus master, played by Alec Baldwin, says, and do whatever he commands.

    Quotes from the film:

    KellyAnne Conway: Yes, Anderson, I would be more than happy to help you sort out what Donald Trump meant with that tweet.

    Zombie Number #871,352 “Wow! This grape Kool-Aid was really aged to perfection.”

    General Michael T. Flynn “No Mr. President, not the red button!!!”

    General James “Mad Hog” Mattis: Ruh Roh.

    1. Kerry:

      Lots of Kool-Aid is going to be served via tweets in the upcomind film: “Year of the Dumb.”

  13. Matt:
    So “bad” generals retire and make $200,000 a year in the defense industry? According to various reports (Huffington Post, Boston Globe, et al) 70%, 80% or 90% of retired generals work as defense contractors or defense consultants. A Globe study put the average 4 star generals defense retirement pay at $179,000 (for years 2008-2112), which is about equal to Mattis’ annual pay (2013-2016). The articles I glanced at did not mention stock options but some said additional money was paid for “speaking fees” – – – reminiscent of the $500,000 30-minute speaking fee Bill Clinton got from the Russian bank after the Uranium deal, and the $300,000-$600,000 Hillary routinely got from her Wall Street friends.
    2. Ethics rules constrain what generals can do post-retirement.
    3. As for Theranos, it was a very promising company with such innovative technologies that many were pushing it back in the 2012. Walgreens partnered with it and offered its blood tests at its stores.
    4. Mattis’ recommendation, was no doubt based on others’ advise; as you said he has no expertise in these matters; I’ve read that “he forwarded Theranos’s email (requesting the Army to test its technology in the field) to other military officers”; that the technology was never implemented and the Army’s own medical corps eventually rejected the Theranos technology.
    5. Many products and technologies are recommended “pending FDA approval” or “contingent” on FDA approval or contingent on internal Army Medical Technical Corp (sic) acceptance.
    It is with exceedingly thin evidentiary reeds that you lash a distinguished general, impugn his character and declare him a “bad person”.
    I declare your post “bad journalism.”

    1. Bill:

      1. The 1.5 million was not from retirement, it was from General Dynamics for about three years of work. We don’t know what else he was paid but it was not speaking fees. I’ve no doubt most generals go work for the defense industry and do well. I think the practice stinks since you can only serve one master. Remember Ike’s warning: I had hope Mad Hog was not part of this practice but he just pushed his way to the front of the sty.

      2. What ethics rules do you refer to when a guy can make from one company 1.5 million and also testify before Congress that the military needs more money for contracts.

      3. You don’t push a company’s new product to the troops in the field unless it is well tested. His relationship with the woman and pushing her product that was not approved despite the deal Walgreen’s may have had speaks poorly of his judgment.

      4. When the top general is forwarding or recommending a certain option in whatever form he does it there is a lot of pressure on people under him to follow through on it. He just never should have done it especially as he was putting troops at risk and that speaks to his judgment.

      5. True but they are not recommended by a four star general leading troops in combat.

      6. I just state the facts. You make the judgment. I expect more of our people than you apparently do.

      1. Matt: The Fiscal Times: “According to a 2010 Boston Globe investigation, only 50 percent of three-and-four star generals who retired from 1994 to 1998 took positions at defense companies. But as DOD spending grew during the war on terrorism, so did the percentage of retired generals entering the private sector after their military careers. Between 2004 and 2008, 80 percent of generals at these ranks (3-4 star) joined a defense company after leaving the military. These positions are SUBSTANTIALLY MORE lucrative than current pay levels for generals – $164,221 per year for a three-star general and $179,700 for a four-star general. Private companies do not have to disclose salaries, but executives at defense contractors often make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.”
        2. The facts you present may be accurate; the inferences you draw from the facts are subject to debate.
        3. I see everything right with promoting innovative potentially life-saving technologies. Hind sight is 20-20. I repeat the general emphasized legally and ethically appropriate means. Theranos’ technologies failed the test. The Army rejected the technology. Mattis did not overrule the medical professionals.
        4. My dispute is with your declaration that Mattis is a bad person because (a) he promoted a potentially life saving technology, and (b) he, like 80% of retired generals, makes a good income after retirement.
        5. I don’t know if you expect more than I do. What exactly would you advise these retired generals do? Become cab drivers or hospital orderlies? Work for free? Work for the Clinton Foundation? Was it wrong for Bob Quinn, Frank Bellotti etc to work as lobbyists in the private sector after years of public service?
        6. There are stringent ethical rules governing generals post-retirement employment, and Trump plans to make them more stringent. Mattis, I’ve read, contacted Ethics Officials before taking post-government jobs.
        7. So, Matt, we continue to spar, but I usually win. Merry Christmas!!!

  14. Matt, your post sets a fine example for “professional journalists” with your admission of being wrong about someone or something. A Globie you ain’t…

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