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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Chicago's Crown Dynasty financially backs U.S. federal candidate Barack Obama.

    “General Dynamics, more than any other aerospace company, is dependent on the Pentagon; government defense contracts account for two-thirds of their sales…The power behind the scenes is Henry Crown, a Chicago financier and one of the richest, but least known, men in the country. A group headed by Crown, who was 83 in 1980, owns about 20% of the company. His associates, who sit on the General Dynamics board with him, are his son, Lester Crown, and Chicago industrialist Nathan Cummings, founder of Consolidated Foods…”

    After Henry Crown's death, General Dynamics sold its F-16 fighter jet production unit and the Crown family reduced its ownership stake in General Dynamics from 20% to 8%. But, according to the General Dynamics web site at www.generaldynamics.com/, in 2005 "General Dynamics Combat Systems” was “becoming the world's preferred supplier of land and amphibious combat systems development, production and support;" and "its product line” included “a full spectrum of armored vehicles, light wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, suspensions, engine transmissions, guns and ammunition handling systems, turret drive systems, and reactive armor and ordnance."

    The General Dynamics web site also indicated in 2005 that members of the Crown family like Henry Crown & Company President James Crown and Henry Crown & Company Chairman Lester Crown still sat on the General Dynamics corporate board in 2005—between retired Pentagon officials (like former U.S. Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology Paul Kaminski, former U.S. Naval Chief of Naval Operations Jay Johnson, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff John Keane, Retired U.S. General George Joulwan and former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Lester Lyles) and a former Royal Navy Vice-Admiral for the UK Ministry of Defense named Robert Walmsley.

    A 2003 press release of the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems business unit in St. Petersburg, Florida also noted that it had formed "a strategic alliance with Aeronautics Defense Systems, Ltd.," an Israeli firm based in Yavne. Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. is the firm that developed the Unmanned Multi-Application System (UMASa) aerial surveillance tool which the Israeli military uses to "provide a real-time 'bird's eye view' of the surveillance area to combatant commanders and airborne command posts." According to then-Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the agreement between General Dynamics and Aeronautics Defense Systems to bring together "both companies' state-of-the art technologies in defense and homeland security" was "additional proof of the technological and commercial benefits that alliances between industries from the U.S. and Israel can produce."
    From its investments in Pentagon war contractors like General Dynamics and U.S. real estate, the Crown family has accumulated a family fortune of $3.6 billion, according to a 2004 Forbes magazine estimate. The Jerusalem Post also noted in its February 27, 2005 issue that “the Crown family of Chicago ” is also “well-known for its support of sectarian Jewish causes.” In addition, long-time General Dynamics board member Lester Crown was also a member of the Advisory board of Medis Technologies, a joint venture business partner of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. in recent years.

    Yet, ironically, the 2008 presidential candidate who apparently is being financially backed by the next generation of the Crown Dynasty seems to be marketing himself these days as "the next generation's anti-war candidate."

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