Over the last 20+ years, WantToKnow.info has summarized over a thousand news articles on deep corruption within our military and intelligence systems. Going deeper, we have gathered a comprehensive collection of verifiable resources, videos, books, and declassified government documents. In this information center, we’ll present a sobering investigation into the US war machine: what it is, who benefits, and who pays the price. The true impacts of US military-intelligence activities in countries all over the world are examined, from World War II to our present moment in time.
Conflict, war, and perceived national security threats provide a common focus for military and CIA partnership. Military activity is heavily informed by CIA intelligence, and public support for this activity is secured by pro-war narratives and voices flooding our media system. What is really going on behind closed doors and on the battlefields is rarely covered in the news, if only for a brief glimpse.
The mainstream press often downplays how ineffective, harmful, and wasteful our current national security strategy is. Over the past century, the CIA’s covert actions have led to countless deaths, human rights abuses, and the undemocratic toppling of numerous foreign governments. While entrenched bureaucracy may be responsible for some of these government agency failings, deeper covert actions within our government have led to chaos and suffering in America and all over the world. Major cover-ups and horrific crimes within the military-intelligence complex continue to remain largely hidden from public awareness.
What is presented in this information center will likely be challenging, sad, and shocking for those who want to know. Yet real information can be empowering. It helps us understand the root causes of human and environmental suffering: the money, players, and belief systems that drive the machine. It invites us to question authority in healthy ways, across political differences. Yet most importantly, challenging information can paradoxically remind us of the greater good. It is the courage of the people and the love for the common good that bring these injustices to light—fueling open dialogue and constructive action.
Arms Industry Corruption
The US dominates the global arms sales industry. Data released in 2023 indicates that the U.S. sold weapons to nearly 60 percent of the world’s authoritarian nations in 2022. Year after year, half of the Pentagon budget doesn’t go to those fighting on the battlegrounds. It goes to corporate weapons contractors who profit lavishly from war. As one defense executive flat-out told Reuters at Europe’s biggest arms fair, "war is good for business."
From the Middle East, Ukraine, China, Saudi Arabia, and to Nigeria, US arms sales have done little to promote stability and democracy in geopolitically impacted regions. Read an incredibly comprehensive report by The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which illustrates how US arms sales have only fueled unnecessary conflict and war.
Powerful banks like JP Morgan Chase and asset management firms like Blackrock and Vanguard have emerged as major players in the business of war. Some of the world’s biggest banks fund the deadly cluster bomb trade, even as more than 100 countries have banned the unethical use of cluster bombs.
These powerful financial entities are top shareholders of weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Together, the arms industry and the elite financial sector receive more federal money than most federal agencies. In 2022, Lockheed Martin received $106 from the average taxpayer, which is four times more than what taxpayers spent on primary and secondary education. Few Americans would support these war profiteers if they knew where their tax money was going.
Roughly two-thirds of current conflicts — 34 out of 46 — involve one or more parties armed by the United States. In some cases U.S. arms sales to combatants in these wars are modest, while in others they play a major role in fueling and sustaining the conflict. Of the U.S.-supplied nations at war, 15 received $50 million or more worth of U.S. arms between 2017 and 2021. This contradicts the longstanding argument that U.S. arms routinely promote stability and deter conflict. While some U.S. transfers are used for legitimate defensive purposes, others exacerbate conflicts, increase tensions, and fuel regional arms races. There is a pronounced lack of transparency about the role of U.S. arms in many of these wars, but the fact that U.S. weapons are going to so many conflict zones is a concern in its own right, and demands better tracking of the precise role of U.S.-supplied equipment.
Washington needs to take steps to ensure that the financial interests of a handful of weapons contractors do not drive critical U.S. arms export policy decisions. Of the $101 billion in major arms offers since the Biden administration took office, over 58 percent involved weapons systems produced by four companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The concentrated lobbying power of these companies — including a “revolving door” from the Pentagon’s arms sales agency and the leveraging of weapons export-related jobs into political influence — has been brought to bear in efforts to expand U.S. weapons exports to as many foreign clients as possible, often by helping to exaggerate threats.