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Frank Gaffney: Boeing's Surprising Spear-Carrier in the Middle East?

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Frank Gaffney stands out as one of the leading original card-carrying Scoop Jackson Democrats who joined up with Ronald Reagan in tackling to its inglorious end the former Soviet Union -- or at least that is the narrative that many Scoop Jackson-employed neoconservatives like to tell.

Gaffney is an indefatigable advocate of Israel's Likudist aspirations. In my view, his anti-Muslim attacks and work on behalf of Israel is actually hurtful to the security of the Israeli state -- but that is a matter of fair debate. But there is no doubt that he opposes the creation of a Palestinian State and sees much of the Arab world as an enemy in the making.

How odd it is then to have learned today that Frank Gaffney is possibly a paid adviser to the Boeing Company -- yes, the same Boeing Company that sells lots and lots of planes to the Middle East -- places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and the like.

At least, Boeing was selling planes there until Gaffney admitted today during a Q&A session that he was on the Boeing payroll, or at least it sounded that way.

A question came in to the group asking if any of the speakers "took money from Boeing." Frank Gaffney responded, "I do."

It is quite possible that Gaffney's Center for Security Policy actually receives the funds from Boeing -- and not Gaffney personally. But his response was not "we do" or "my organization does" but "I do". At least that is the report from the event.

Whether or not Gaffney receives personal or institutional support from Boeing, it is an odd alliance.

That was a shocker when Gaffney acknowledged he (or his outfit) was getting checks from the airplane maker -- not that one shouldn't consult with private firms or take contributions from Boeing for a non-profit operation, but more that Boeing has no sense of what consequences a financial relationship with Frank Gaffney might have on its Arab nation customers.

Gaffney joined the heads of other conservative, national security-concerned organizations to protest the Department of Defense award of a $35 billion refueling tanker contract to EADS/Airbus rather than Boeing. In addition to Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, other organizations attending the press conference were Citizens United, Frontiers of Freedom, Let Freedom Ring, the American Cause, 60 Plus, Free America, and the Institute for Liberty.

I asked one of Boeing's top DC-based officials a few days ago whether he knew if Frank Gaffney was a consultant or adviser to the firm, and his response was: "I don't know -- but I can't possibly believe that that would be the case. That just can't be true. No way. I'll check it out right away."

I didn't hear back from him, but Gaffney admitted a relationship when a question was posed at the press conference today. Good on Gaffney though for his honesty.

Hmmmm. . .I wonder which Arab state leaders and Ambassadors will be on CEO James McNerney's call list tomorrow?

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note

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