According to a new Washington Post investigation, more than 500 retired US military veterans, including scores of generals and admirals, have taken lucrative employment working for foreign governments since 2015, largely in nations infamous for human rights abuses and political repression.
Since 2016, 15 retired US generals and admirals have served as paid advisors for the Saudi Defense Ministry alone.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, is in charge of the ministry, which U.S. intelligence services claim sanctioned the death of writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist, in 2018 as part of a savage crackdown on dissent.
Among Saudi Arabia’s hired advisers have been former President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones as well as Keith Alexander, the former Army General who oversaw the National Security Agency under both Obama and President George W. Bush
The majority of the retired Americans have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Persian Gulf monarchies, where they have played an important role in improving their Armed forces.
Meanwhile, the security forces of the Gulf nations have continued to conduct human rights violations both within and outside their borders.
Foreign governments have historically promoted their interests in Washington by paying Americans to serve as lobbyists, attorneys, political strategists, think tank researchers, and public relations consultants.
However, during the last decade, the recruiting of former US military officers for their experience and political power has increased.
Congress allows retired troops and reservists to work for foreign governments with permission from their branch of the armed services and the State Department.
However, the US government has sought to keep the hirings hidden. It hid almost all information concerning the practice for years.
Foreign nations paid generously for US military expertise, according to the records, with salary and perk packages exceeding, in some cases, seven figures.
A consultancy business founded by six retired Pentagon officials and military commanders secured a $23.6 million deal with Qatar, but the plan was subsequently withdrawn.
A former US Air Force general was offered a $5,000-per-day consultancy job in Azerbaijan.
Saudi Arabia recruited a former Navy SEAL as a special operations consultant at a salary of $258,000 per year.
The UAE paid helicopter pilots more than $200,000 per year and aircraft mechanics $120,000 per year.
The records were only obtained by the post after a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. government, the latter of which insisted on the information staying secret.
Federal law prohibits retired U.S. military members from accepting anything of value from foreign governments that may jeopardize their pledged loyalty to the United States.
The ban originates from the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officeholders from accepting gifts, positions, or titles from other countries.