Hundreds of retired U.S. military personnel, including generals and admirals, are working for foreign governments, including in places like Saudi Arabia that are known for their politically repressive regimes and human rights abuses, a Washington Post investigation reveals.
Since 2016, 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals have earned paychecks for the Saudi Defense Ministry, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who American intelligence officials say approved of the assassination of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
According to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information act request, some of the paid advisers have included retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to President Barack Obama, and retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and President George W. Bush.
Most of the retired personnel working in other countries have drawn pay for working as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Middle East monarchy regimes, and have played a vital role in improving those countries' military forces.
They include a former general who commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as one retired four-star Air Force general.
Hiring Americans as lobbyists, political consultants and more is not unusual for foreign governments, but over the past 10 years, Persian Gulf monarchies have sought out retired military personnel while increasing their defense spending.
Retired military personnel and reservists are permitted to work for foreign governments but must first get approval from their branch of the military and the State Department, according to Congress, but the information was withheld for years from the public about the practice.
Part of the information withheld was how much money was being made, but the Post noted that much more money is being used to entice U.S. military retirees to work for the Gulf states than other countries around the world.
For example, Australia's government awarded consulting deals worth more than $10 million to several former U.S. Navy officers, but a consulting firm owned by six retired Pentagon officials and military officers negotiated a $23.6 million deal from Qatar, which later fell through.
However, in Azerbaijan, one retired U.S. Air Force general was offered $5,000 a day for consulting work, the documentation showed.
Retired top officers get the highest pay, but former enlisted personnel can get big bucks in addition to their U.S. military pensions.
In Saudi Arabia, a former Navy SEAL was hired as a special operation adviser for over a quarter-million dollars a year, and the UAE awarded packages of worth $200,000 for helicopter pilots and $120,000 to retired aircraft mechanics.
The records showed that while many of the generals and admirals used the contact they'd made during wartime, others negotiated their jobs while they were in-country on active duty.
The government had fought the Post about revealing the information, but in September, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled largely in favor of the Post and ordered the government to release the pay packages, calling the government's privacy arguments "unconvincing."
"The public has a right to know if high-ranking military leaders are taking advantage of their stations — or might be perceived to be doing so — to create employment opportunities with foreign governments in retirement," Mehta wrote.
A Justice Department said it is considering an appeal.
Brandon Brockmyer, the director of investigations and research for the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Washington that has filed a similar lawsuit, said retired senior military officers are often seen testifying before Congress and discussing national security on television but don't divulge if they're on the payroll of a foreign government.
Out of the 500 cases that were reported to the armed forces and State Department since 2015 and examined by the Post, just one included Russia, after a retired Air Force colonel got permission in March 2020 to take a job as a satellite-launch company executive for $300,000. The company is based in the United States but its majority ownership is by Russia's government.
There were no other instances of retired military working for other "foreign adversaries" like China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, or Cuba, as almost two-thirds were working in the Middle East or North Africa, the records revealed.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.