Among the major revelations connected to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudis is just how resilient and unshakeable relations between the Washington deep state and the Saudi royals actually are. Or rather we should say it has created an atmosphere where "hidden in plane sight" truth of America being joined at the hip to one of the Middle East's most brutal autocratic regimes can no longer be ignored by the mainstream, or can no longer be shaded from public view by another David Ignatius puff piece fawning over Saudi "reformer" despots.
A new Daily Beast investigation has revealed that Obama's first National Security Adviser, James L. Jones, now works for the Saudis — and despite a growing public movement of Western companies and media organizations to divest and distance themselves from their previous close relationship with the kingdom and events sponsored by crown prince MbS — Jones is refusing to budge. As The Daily Beast concludes in its report, "It’s another sign of the deep reach of Saudi money into the Washington elite."
While noting the heat that Trump-connected individuals have lately taken over their close ties with the Saudis, The Daily Beast uncovers Obama-era officials' continuing deep ties:
But Obama World isn’t without close connections to the Kingdom. A company helmed by Jim Jones, then-President Barack Obama’s first National Security Adviser, has a contract with the Saudi government to advise on industrial matters, The Daily Beast has learned. Jones’ company, Jones Group International, had, until March of this year, a second contract with the Kingdom related to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s military overhaul. It’s another sign of the deep reach of Saudi money into the Washington elite.
As Jones was also longtime Commandant of the Marine Corps prior to being Obama's first National Security Advisor, it also underscores the military-industrial complex's closeness to Saudi rulers spanning decades, and the way this has served to continually shield Riyadh from the scrutiny of Washington and the American public.
Gen. Jones heads Jones Group International, whose subsidiary Ironhand Security has a contract with the Saudi government to advise on domestic industrial expansion and infrastructure. And previously Ironhand Security advised on military transformation efforts, according to the report. The relationship was further confirmed by Pentagon-approved contract documents obtained by FOIA — one contract is still in place while another has expired.
In response to probes into the relationship, a spokesperson for Ironhand Security told The Daily Beast: “Ironhand Security had a contract with the Saudi government to provide advice on its military transformation efforts, a key component of the 2030 vision and reform agenda strongly supported by the United States.” And the statement further noted, “This was particularly important given the significance of the military-to-military relationship.”
"Another sign of the deep reach of Saudi money into the Washington elite.... Long-time lobbyists told The Daily Beast that the Kingdom’s ample wealth would still open doors on K Street." https://t.co/iIOBevwnVo— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 18, 2018
The current contract between Jones' company and the Saudi involves “advisory services on the development of a domestic industrial base.” But interestingly, at a time when a number of companies are publicly distancing themselves from the kingdom over Khashoggi's brutal murder in the Istanbul consulate — among the most recent include lobbying firms BGR Group and Glover Park Group — Jones has indicated he's not yet ready to cut business ties with the Saudis.
“General Jones is disturbed about this matter and horrified at the reports,” the Ironhand Security statement said. “He wants to know precisely what happened to Mr. Khashoggi and eagerly awaits disclosure of the full facts produced by the investigations, which must be thorough, objective, transparent and verifiable.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to The Daily Beast report is the acknowledgement that there is a whole cadre of powerful former US generals and military officials who form an unelected arm of American "soft power" — something rarely, if ever, disclosed to the public:
Lydia Dennett, an investigator at the government watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO), told The Daily Beast that when foreign governments ink contracts with former administration officials, those commercial connections can act as tools of soft power.
“The concern here is that high-ranking military officials generally are often seen as places where Congress and the executive branch can go to provide unbiased advice on national security issues,” Dennett said. “And when you have these kinds of financial relationships, it can lead to issues of undue influence.”
We should also note the high number of retired generals on payroll for the major networks — from FOX to CNN to NBC — who without disclosing such lobbying ties consistently appear on prime time panels in order to "inform" (or rather "form") the public mind on issues ranging from Syria to Iran to Russia.
Case in point: as recently as July, Gen. Jones was writing op-eds on "Why the Untied States must remain in Syria" in major outlets while on the Saudi payroll, which was of course not disclosed in said op-eds.
However, nothing is actually likely to change in spite of Saudi Arabia currently being int the hot seat, as the Beast notes: "But despite the slough of departures, long-time lobbyists told The Daily Beast that the Kingdom’s ample wealth would still open doors on K Street." No doubt, things will soon return to business as usual.