By Ray Locker and Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON — More than half of the panel members appointed to review the Pentagon's latest four-year strategy blueprint have financial ties to defense contractors with a stake in the planning process, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Congress created the 20-member panel in 2006 to analyze the Defense Department's four-year plan, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review. Lawmakers called for the committee to provide an independent "alternate view" of the Pentagon's plan, which shapes future military policy and spending on weapons and other needs.
A dozen of the unpaid panelists were appointed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and eight by the topRepublican and Democrat members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees. Eleven work for defense contractors as employees, consultants or board directors, records show.
"The Pentagon often talks about its cooperation with industry, but this makes you wonder who's wearing the pants in this relationship," said Mandy Smithberger, national security investigator for the Project on Government Oversight.