Here's Who REALLY Won the War in Afghanistan
- I've been deep in these documents, each of which is a piece of evidence that helps me piece together a very important question, which is who got rich off this 20 year bore that we fought in Afghanistan? (bombs exploding) (guns hosts) (people screaming) But first, let me tell you what happened on August 15th, 2021. The Taliban had entered Kabul after taking over the entire country of Afghanistan. The war ended as it had begun with the Taliban in power once again.
You probably remember the scenes from the Kabul airport, total chaos as Afghans tried to flee their country. But there's one guy who saw a business opportunity in all of this. This guy, Eric Prince, generously offered to help charter a plane to evacuate people from Kabul, the price tag, $6,500 per person. That was the market price that Eric Prince decided. But this wasn't the first time Eric Prince used the war in Afghanistan to get rich. In fact, this was one of the last of many instances where this guy profited off the Afghan war and some of the ways he did it were kind of messed up.
So after digging through the numbers, the reports, the Senate hearings, all of it, we've established a list of some of the top people who got crazy stupid rich off of the war in Afghanistan - On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. (disconcerting music) - Before we get into our list I want to talk about an important term here which is government contractor. - $300 hundred million in government contracts. - U.S. defense contractor. - Our broken system of government contractor. - [Narrator] At U.S. Federal Contractor Registration,
we know that a government contract is worth more than the dollars awarded. - Here in the United States we love the free market. (eerie music) - I'm talking about this.
- So instead of having the clunky old federal government take care of all things war, we hire a lot of private companies to do it for us. This is companies that make our weapons, feed our soldiers, build our bases, fuel our tanks and literally fight our wars. (bomb explosion) (gun shots) Yes, we have private armies that we call security companies that basically are soldiers for hire. What this allows the government to do is post a job out there. Like we need someone to build a road in Afghanistan. And in theory, what happens is a bunch of private companies come together and they all bid on how much it would cost to build this road.
And whatever company gives the best price is chosen to go build that road. It's supposed to help the government get the best price. Okay, so where am I going with this? What I want you to understand is that there is this bidding process for private companies to go do things that the government needs, but in war time a lot of those processes of bidding go out the window because we're in war time.
So it's like an emergency. So instead you get a lot of situations where there is no bidding on contracts. The government needs something done in Afghanistan really quickly. This company could do it. Name your price.
We'll give you whatever you need. - [Narrator] As a client, the U.S. government is guaranteed to have the funds to pay you and will always pay you.
And it's that very process that allowed people to take advantage of a system to let billions and billions of unaccounted for dollars be poured into private companies. All of this contributed to what a former Secretary of Defense call a culture of endless money inside the Pentagon. Okay, wait, before we go on, I need to thank the sponsor of today's video, which is better help. I've said this a bunch. I'm gonna keep saying it which is that I'm a giant supporter of therapy. I think therapy is something that is stigmatized.
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(eerie music) First up is Robert Stevens, the former CEO of a company called Lockheed Martin. It's a company that manufactures like this helicopter, the Black Hawk, they manufacture missiles, fighter jets, bombs. They manufacture a lot of stuff that we use in war. This company gets a lot of business from the Pentagon. Like in 2020 alone, this company got $75 billion worth of Pentagon contracts.
I know that like when we get into billions it's really hard to like, know what that actually means, but just to put it in perspective the entire budget of our foreign ministry the State Department totaled $44 billion for the entire state department, all of our diplomacy, $44 billion and Lockheed Martin alone, this one company, got almost double that to make our weapons. 90% of Lockheed's revenue comes from the federal government. Their core business, the thing that keeps them afloat is war and security. So Robert Stevens became the CEO in 2004. This was three years into the war in Afghanistan.
And as the war intensified, so did Robert's wallet. And I know this because this is a public company and all of the compensation for executives is public knowledge to all of us. You may have to dig through some boring documents like the Lockheed Martin proxy statements from the 2000 annual meeting of stockholders on April 27th, 2000, but you can find it. So let's see how Robert and his war business did in the two thousands. So before the war in the late nineties, the CEO of Lockheed Martin was making around $2 million a year, if you include his salary and bonus. $2 million bucks, it's a pretty good compensation.
Okay, but then the war started. Lockheed started to get a ton of contracts, started making more weapons and look what happens to the CEO's compensation. His salary stays about the same, just over a million bucks but his bonus now jumps up to $3.2 million. Bringing his total compensation to around $5 million.
This guy's making $5 million bucks. War's doing pretty good for him. Not bad. Let's jump one year later, it's now 2006.
(bombs exploding) (gun shots) And Robert Stevens, the CEO of Lockheed Martin brought in $18 million. Wait what? From $2 million to $5 million to $18 million. Whoa. Robert Stevens is doing pretty darn good. Okay, but let's keep going. The year after that Robert Stevens brings in $30 million in his compensation.
$30 million, sorry, $31 million. $31 million, non equity incentive plan compensation, $8 million. Holy smokes.
What? $30 million in compensation. I mean, if we were to like graph that, the war starts here, we're looking at something like this, this and this. The war was a life changing event for Robert Stevens, the CEO of Lockheed Martin. Okay, so that's our first guy who got super rich. Let's move on to the next one.
(mysterious music) A guy named Stephen Orenstein. This guy's company called Supreme Group was chosen in 2005 to feed U.S. troops in Afghanistan. To provide all the food. I mean, when this guy got the contract, I'm sure the only thing that happened is that his eyes started flashing with money. Since he got the contract, Supreme Foods business increased 50 fold. Over the course of six years the Defense Department paid Supreme $5.5 billion
to deliver food to the troops, $5.5 billion. And it became 90% of his business. 90% of his company was providing food to troops in Afghanistan. I mean talk about winning the lottery. But remember what I said about emergency funding and contractors? Orenstein realized that he could charge absurd amounts of money for the meals that he was providing to troops.
And he knew that no one would notice because they were just throwing money at this war. The government contracts just kept coming, no matter how pricey his meals were. (upbeat joyful music) - There's our beef ravioli. (cash register) - Orenstein was like, dude, there's no adults in the room. Like I'm a child in a candy shop right now.
Let's see how far I can take this. (upbeat disco music) Not only was he charging insane prices for meals, but then he started to create fake subcontracting companies and started to win contracts that were for nothing. And the Pentagon would just pay him a ton of money for doing no work.
And what did he do? He just pocketed the cash. He got super, super rich off of this to the point where he became a billionaire. He got put on the billionaire list or whatever, but eventually he took it way too far and he got caught and yes, we are now reading a Senate hearing from 2013 called contracting to feed U.S. troops in Afghanistan. How did the U.S. Defense Department end
up in a multi-billion dollar billing dispute? I don't recommend you watch this hearing, it's very boring. - DLA had paid Supreme about $3 billion including 1.6 billion for food and water. And 1.4 billion for transportation storage costs. - The numbers being thrown around in this hearing are insane.
The Pentagon overpaid nearly a hundred million just in like transportation costs which as one congressperson said that is an astounding amount of money. And then to put it in perspective she says that that amount would pay for nearly a hundred thousand children to have access to a head start program which is an early education program in the U.S. But instead this taxpayer money went into Orenstein's pocket. Nice one, Steven, think of the children. Come on.
So what does it look like when someone gets punished for this? Well, here we are in this Senate hearing where the people who gave all of this money without checking where it was going, are being questioned. And when they asked what happened they say things like this. - The contract management efforts that we applied to this did not keep pace with the changes that we were seeing in our requirements. - Let me translate that for you.
What he was really saying is we weren't really paying attention because you know, war. According to this court document, Steven eventually did have to pay up $389 million. But let's be honest. He got a little slap on the wrist, but the guy got rich off the Afghan war, which is why he's on this list. Next up is this guy, Eric Prince. This is the guy we talked about at the beginning, who was like charging $6,000 bucks to fly people out of Afghanistan.
- I don't think any human being who has a heart and soul would support efforts to profit off of people's agony and pain, as they're trying to depart a country and fearing for their lives. - He's an ex Navy seal who inherited a bunch of money and decided to start his own private security company called Blackwater. Remember what I said? Private security company really means soldiers for hire. This guy, trained military and police forces.
In fact, he describes his mission for Blackwater as "trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the postal service." Privatize, make more efficient, get rid of red tape, etcetera, etcetera. Kind of a scary thought, but okay. He got his first contract in 2000. It was a small contract, $204,000 to help train the Navy for terrorist attacks.
Then 9/11 happened. An absolute tragedy for the American people, but an incredible business opportunity for Eric Prince and his FedEx for the army. The U.S. was desperate to mobilize their troops for this new kind of warfare. So they turn to Blackwater to help them.
The U.S. hired Blackwater to come protect their CIA compounds or to escort VIP diplomats. But wait, let's just get something clear. What are these guys? Are they troops or like military? Technically, no, they're not, but they sure look like troops.
I mean, look at these guys but really these guys are just like fancy security guards that the government hires and gives them security clearances and sends them to war zones so that they can operate like soldiers under the jurisdiction of a private company. Hmm, but they're just security guards. So they're not like mercenaries or anything, right? By 2007, the government had given Blackwater over a billion dollars in federal contracts. Let me repeat, this little company that provides a private security force, went from meager contracts of $200,000 to help train troops, to sending troops abroad to actually be in the war zone and getting a billion dollars worth of taxpayer money within just a few years.
As you can imagine, giving guns and security clearances to a private army might lead to some thorny abuses of power. And in fact, in 2007, the guards of Blackwater were in Iraq in addition to Afghanistan, and they opened fire on unarmed civilians. - [Narrator] Indiscriminate shootings by Blackwater guards, leading to the deaths of civilians. - In a crowded public square, after a car bomb had exploded a mile away, they killed 17 Iraqis and injured 20 more. Blackwater lost their contracts. It was a huge scandal.
It was another instance where there was some accountability. And yet Eric Prince sold the company and came out on top. Another guy who got really rich off the Afghan war. Oh, and those security guards who opened fire on innocent civilians were tried and convicted, but then wait for it. They were completely pardoned by Donald Trump.
Do we have any faith in humanity? Next up we've got these two guys. They're nicknamed The War Dogs. There's a movie about them that I haven't seen but I want to. - Sorry, excuse me. - Kind of an emergency. - Sorry, don't worry.
I have to go first, I'm American - But really the best thing out there is this Rolling Stone article. (upbeat dance music) These guys were ages 25 and 21 when they started an ammunition company. (gun shot) They bid the pentagon and won $300 million worth of tax payer money in contracts. And they were gonna supply the Afghan National Army with guns in ammunition.
I mean, this is insane. These were like early 20 year old kids. One of these guys, David was just a few months earlier a massage therapist and then was like, hm, I'm gonna have a little change of career. I'm gonna go sell $300 million worth of guns and ammunition to the federal government so they can fight a war in Afghanistan. These guys got super rich off of this.
And soon we're living a fancy life with really nice cars and expensive apartments in like Miami. But what they were doing here was buying ammo from China and then selling that to the U.S. government, which is like a giant no-no in arms like trading. They eventually got caught, pleaded guilty. And one of the him was sentenced to jail for four years. So this is a rare case of like guys got rich and then they got caught and they actually got punished which didn't happen to Supreme Food or Eric Prince.
The difference is like when you're like a 24 year old kid you don't have a lot of money and influence. So you can't like weasel your way out of accountability. But what this story shows you is just how easy it was to get in on this culture of endless money within the Pentagon.
The massage therapist who had never owned a gun before started an ammunition and gun company and got $300 million for it, just like a gold rush. Okay, so those are the War Dogs. Next up we have this guy, Fahim Hashimy, one of the several Afghan nationals who got super rich, part of this group called the 9/11 millionaires. In the early days of the Afghan war there was huge need for local fixers and translators. The people who got in early, helping out U.S. forces got really savvy
to how the U.S. was operating. And they quickly realized that they could provide a bunch more local services and make a to ton of money. So Fahim started a business that eventually turned into like a media corporation with like TV stations and a construction company and even an airline. His company started racking in like $200 million a year in government contracts. There were a bunch of Afghans who got super rich riding on the coattails of all of this money being poured into the country, which it's like good for them. Their country's been torn apart by outside superpowers for decades.
Let them at least get something out of it for heaven's sake. Next up, we have our very own Congress. ♪ Oh say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn's early light ♪ Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz aren't like arms dealers, but they can still get rich off of war. (bomb exploding) (cash register machine) - [Man] Everything is gone. - [Man] Oh my God. - Because if you're a member of Congress you can buy stocks in defense companies like Lockheed Martin, and a lot of them do.
At least 47 members of Congress and their spouses hold between $2.67 million worth of stocks in top defense companies. Oh, and it's not partisan. Of the 30 house members who hold stock and military contracts 20 are Republican and 16 are Democrats.
It's almost split in half. I mean, let's get into the details here. Like which of the congressmen have the most money invested in defense companies? Good question. The winner for this year of who's getting rich off war is Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma who owns over a million dollars in stock from defense contractors.
$880,000 alone in Honeywell, which is an aerospace contractor that Congress really seems to love and notice how well their stock has done. Especially since 2009, when Obama sent a bunch of new troops to Afghanistan. I mean this is a lawmaker who has to give approval when we go to war and he stands to gain if we do, but wait the conflict of interest gets worse, when you look at somebody like Senator Gary Peters a democratic Senator from Michigan who is a member of the Arms Services Committee, which is the committee that authorizes the Pentagon's budget. Here's his financial disclosure.
Hmm, he's invested in a lot of things including Raytheon Technology Corporation. Raytheon is a major government contractor for war time things. This guy gives money to the Pentagon to do war things with private contractors and he has invested in the private contractors. In July, this guy's committee voted to increase defense spending by $24 billion, which is more than president Biden even proposed.
So in very direct terms this guy is voting to put more money in his pocket. That is how our system works. Here's another financial disclosure of a senator who's on a committee that deals with cyber security and protection. She holds stock in six defense companies with most of her money being invested in IT contractor.
Do you get it? IT contractor that she is invested in. Cyber security committee that she uses to vote to give money to the thing she's invested in. It's like, come on, ugh.
(eerie music) Okay, so that's our list. And let me be clear that this is not the exhaustive list of everyone who got rich. There are so many more people who got rich. There are so many more people who abused the system.
We will never know their names. We will never hear about them because they didn't get caught. In the end, the Pentagon spent $14 trillion, $14 trillion between 30% and 50% of that went to private companies, military contractors, companies that give huge payout, huge compensation to the top leaders. That's like $5 trillion worth of taxpayer money going to fatten the pockets of these corporations and for what? What did we get? We now know that it didn't do much for this country and its people. 20 years later the country is falling back to where it started. But what it did do is it made these people really, really, really rich.
Good for them. Okay, I'm gonna go try to not be depressed about how our democracy works. See ya. (eerie music)