Raytheon: Corporate Crimes

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Weapons Manufacture

International law, established at the end of World War 2, ‘holds individuals and corporations liable for supplying governments with weapons that are used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity’. Thus the makers of Zyklon-B agent used in the gas chambers in the Second World War were successfully convicted in the Nuremberg trials, even though Zyklon B wasn’t designed to kill humans, because the company should have known what the gas was used for.[45]

International law also defines the destruction of ‘objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, and the use of weapons and tactics that cannot distinguish between combatants and non-combatants as war crimes. On Wednesday 20th October 1999, Sheriff Margaret Gimblett dropped the charges against Angie Zelter, Ulla Roder and Ellen Moxley of damaging a Trident facility in Loch Goil, Scotland, because the threat or use of Trident is an infringement of international and customary law.[46] This was subsequently successfully challenged by Scotland’s senior law officer, the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, in a highly unusual step to ensure the government got its way in ensuring nuclear weapons were legal.[47]

Attacks by Western Powers using Tomahawk missiles have deliberately targeted essential civilian services.[48] In Yugoslavia the US navy fired 220 Tomahawk missiles, designed to weaken the country by making life unbearable for the Serbian people. Tomahawks with special loads containing carbon filaments destroyed Belgrade’s electrical grid. The destruction of the major bridges across the Danube using the missiles dealt a huge economic blow to Bulgaria and Romania. Stray Tomahawks landed in Bulgaria.

Bringing war dependent industry to Northern Ireland

In 1999, Raytheon's plans to set up a software centre in Northern Ireland came under fire. The Derry-based campaign group, the Pat Finucane Centre, said it was disturbing that both SDLP leader John Hume and the province's First Minister David Trimble, the latest winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, welcomed an industry dependent on war. Spokesman, Paul O'Connor, claimed there was also concern that contracts were to be carried out for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). "The MoD have been actively involved in the legal battle to gain anonymity for the soldiers on Bloody Sunday and now we are going to have people working in a factory in this city to supply contracts for the MoD," he said.[43]

Raytheon Peacemakers question Raytheon's responsibility for mass destruction

In March 1999 eleven members of a citizen weapons inspection team calling themselves Raytheon Peacemakers went on trial in Lawrence District Court (near Boston, US). The six were arrested at the Raytheon plant in Andover in October 1998 and charged with trespass when they entered the facility "in search of evidence that components of weapons of mass destruction are under construction" there. The group represented themselves and were permitted to present a defence of necessity during the three-day trial. Their main witness for the defence was former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has seen first-hand the devastation caused in Iraq and Sudan by cruise missiles and other weapons produced in whole or part by Raytheon. The six-person jury returned a guilty verdict after three hours of deliberation on March 10. All were sentenced to one-year unsupervised probation, plus $35 witness protection fee or seven hours community service.[49]

See also: 'Citizen's team arrested inspecting Raytheon, Major missile maker in Massachusetts suspected of abating violations of international law', by Michael True. Web site: http://www.nonviolence.org/nukeresister/nr114/114raytheon.htm


German soldiers claim that they contracted cancer through operating military radar machinery. The soldiers have launched lawsuits against the government, and plan further action against the US manufacturers, which include Raytheon. The 773 alleged victims had operated radar equipment for either the West German or East German army between the 1950s and the 1980s. The majority of the plaintiffs currently suffer from cancer. Mr Geulen, the soldier's representative, is also to launch a $350m lawsuit in May on behalf of 400 former soldiers against the US manufacturers of the machinery. It alleges that the equipment was imperfectly set up and lacking in adequate shielding devices.[51]

Job Security

In October 1994 Raytheon announced plans to lay off all 870 employees at two aircraft plants in England that it had purchased from British Aerospace. This was despite the fact, according to union officials, that workers had cut overheads by 25% and increased productivity by a third and that the Labour party had promised the workers ‘that their jobs were safe for many years to come.’[52]

In November 2000 the Boston Herald reported that Raytheon cut 147 jobs less than a month after a strike in which one of the main issues was job security.[53] This is just the latest in a long trend of job cutting and broken promises. Raytheon announced major job cuts (9,700 people) in January 1998.[54] On 29 January 2002, Raytheon Co. announced it plans to fire 400 engineers from its Tucson, Arizona-based missile business.[55] On 1 February 2002 Raytheon Aircraft Co. made 300 people redundant, as a Raytheon official announced even more lay offs.[56] Many corporations, including Raytheon, have used the 11th of September 2001 as an excuse to lay off workers, although many of them have not lost out on profits since then. On the contrary, arms manufacturers such as Raytheon are doing very well since the terrorist attack on the US and the following military retaliation.

Failing to recognise unions

Raytheon refused to recognise democratically elected unions at its plants in Manchester and Pelham, New Hampshire, where non-union guards voted to join the Raytheon guards' assoc. Eventually in November 1990 the US court of Appeals for the first circuit found Raytheon in violation of US labour law and forced Raytheon to bargain with the guards’ elected union[57].

Discrimination against employees

In 1987 California’s fair employment and housing commission found Raytheon’s Goleta, CA plant guilty of illegal discrimination for firing an employee who had AIDS. Although a doctor told Raytheon the employee could return to work without posing a risk to other employees, corporation managers feared that co-workers would ‘catch’ the AIDS virus. The commission ordered the corporation to rehire the employee and pay him $6,000 in back wages. The commission’s ruling came too late, however, since by this time the employee was dead.[58]

Breaking The Law

In May 1999 Reuters reported that Raytheon would pay $3 million to AGES group and purchase $13 million worth of AGES aircraft parts to settle allegations that a security firm hired by Raytheon eavesdropped on and stole documents from AGES.[59] To discourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons the US imposed economic sanctions against Pakistan for its 1998 nuclear testing. Raytheon attempted to complete a prohibited sale of satellite communications equipment by channelling the sale through its Canadian subsidiary.[60] In Oct 1994 Raytheon co. paid the US government $4 million to settle a claim that the company inflated a defence contract for anti-missile radar.[61] In Oct 1993 Raytheon paid $3.7 million to settle allegations that it misled the defence department by overstating the labour costs involved in manufacturing Patriot missiles.[62] In March 1990 Raytheon pleaded guilty in a US district court in Virginia to one felony count of illegally obtaining secret Air Force budget and planning documents. They were fined $10,000 for ‘conveyance without authority’ and $900,000 in civil penalties and damages. In Oct 1987 the justice department signed onto a $36 million suit, which alleged that Raytheon submitted false claims for work done on missiles. The government eventually closed the case citing lack of evidence.[63]

Securities Fraud

On Oct 12th 1999 $8 billion was wiped off the value of Raytheon’s shares in a single day. The plunge was triggered by a Wall Street Journal report that Raytheon was over cost or behind schedule on more than a dozen fixed-price defence contracts. According to Reuters, CEO Daniel Burnham told analysts he’d been working to reform a culture at Raytheon where managers think in terms of what they hope to deliver, rather than what is realistic. A host of Shareholder securities fraud class action lawsuits were filed against Raytheon and its officers in response.[64]

Read more: http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/classaction.htm (source: Raytheon Watch)

The Amazon Controversy

In 1994 Raytheon was awarded a $1.4 billion dollar[65] project in Brazil to electronically survey the entire Brazilian rainforest – a complex sensory web helping to counter the chronic shortage in manpower looking after the worlds biggest forest. However the project was paralysed for 3 years after evidence came to light suggesting that Raytheon’s lobbyists might have bribed a senator to gain backing for the project.[66] The Brazilian senate eventually approved the project after Brazil’s president blocked a parliamentary investigation into accusations of corruption in the Raytheon contract.[67] The Brazilian Air Force Minister, Mauro Gandra was forced to resign after police released a tape of a Raytheon representative and an aide to President Cardoso discussing bribes to Brazilian senators to grease approval of the project.[68]

Shoddy Merchandise / Missile Accuracy

A great cover up by governments and Raytheon has surrounded the accuracy of their missiles, it was claimed that the Patriot, Tomahawk and JSOW were highly successful in the Gulf war and numerous pictures of missiles going down chimneys were shown. Initially the US army said the Patriot achieved an 80% success rate in Saudi Arabia and 50% in Israel. This was later reduced to 70% and 40% respectively. However a 10-month investigation in 1992 by the US House of Representatives Government Operations Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security concluded that there was little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few of the scud missiles launched.

Another 1992 investigation by the General Accounting Office found that only 9% of Patriot-Scud engagements could be proved to end in a 'kill'. Except in those 9% of cases the army could only prove that the Patriots came close to the scuds, not that they destroyed them.[69] Both reports stated that the Patriot chasing Scud television pictures were misleading as most were only damaging scuds or pushing them off course. In Israel/Palestine the amount of damage and number of casualties increased after the Patriots were deployed there.[70]

Another example of shoddy merchandise: Defence experts have blasted Raytheon’s Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), under development for the NMD (National Missile Defence) program as technically unsatisfactory. The Welch panel noted the ‘hardware-poor nature of the EKV program and pointed out that the EKV may not be able to withstand the shock loads once mounted on the actual Ground Based Interceptor Booster to be used in the NMD system.' The operational version of the actual booster will not be tested until 2003.[50]

Environment Concerns

Despite evidence that incineration is the worst option for destroying the U.S.'s obsolete chemical weapons stockpile at the Umatilla Army Depot, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) gave $1.3 to the army and Raytheon to construct five chemical weapons incinerators. Despite strong protests, on February 7, 1997, the EQC made its final decision to accept the United States Army's application to build a chemical weapons incineration facility near Hermiston, Oregon.

Some examples of the chemicals to be incinerated include nerve gas and mustard agent; bioaccumulative organochlorines such as dioxins, furans, chloromethane, vinyl chloride, and PCBs; metals such as lead, mercury, copper and nickel; and toxins such as arsenic. These represent only a fraction of the thousands of chemicals and metals that will potentially be emitted throughout the Columbia River watershed.

Contrary to what incineration advocates claim, Raytheon Watch argue that there is no urgent need to incinerate, since there is little potential for explosion or chain reaction as a result of decay at the stockpile in Umatilla. A 1994 U.S. General Accounting Office report estimates that the actual number of years for 'safe weapons storage' is 120 years rather than the 17.7 years originally estimated by the National Research Council. Thus the incineration could be delayed until all the alternatives, such as chemical neutralization, electro-chemical oxidation, and solvated electron technology (SET), are considered. This is supported by a National Academy of Sciences report, entitled Review and Evaluation of Alternative Chemical Disposal Technologies, which states that there has been sufficient development to warrant re-evaluation of alternative technologies for chemical agent destruction.[71]


[42] European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V. web-site: http://www.eads.net/eads/en/index.htm?/xml/intl/press/archiv/foundingpartners/casa2000/20000jun_1.xml&press accessed 17 April 2002 [43] 'UK: Northern Ireland Software centre plans under fire', BBC News, 25 August 1999, BBC website: news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/northern_ireland/newsid_428000/428973.stm accessed 17 April 2002 [44] Raytheon web-site: http://www.raytheon.com/finance/proxy.pdf accessed 17 April 2002 [45] The Zyklon B Case, British Military Court Hamburg, Source: Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume I, London, HMSO,1947 web-site: www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/zyklonb.htm accessed 17 April 2002 [46] 'Trident legal, says Crown', 9 October 2000, BBC News web-site: www.news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_963000/963668.stm (source: BBC News, date viewed: 17/04/02) (source: BBC News, date viewed: 17/04/02) [47] 'Judges rule Trident not illegal', 30 March 2001, BBC News web-site: news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_1251000/1251071.stm accessed 17 April 2002 [48] 'Select Committee on Defense: Fourteenth Report', The UK Parliament World Wide Web Service: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmdfence/347/34713.htm accessed 17 April 2002 [49] http://www.lcnp.org/wcourt/Raytheon.htm (source: The Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy Inc., date viewed: 17/04/02) [50] 'Star Wars Continued', Multinational Monitor, October 2000, Volume 21, Number 10, web site: www.essential.org/monitor/mm2000/00october/corp1.html (source: Multinational Monitor, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [51] 'German soldiers sue over cancer', BBC News, 26 March 2002, BBC website: news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1895000/1895179.stm accessed 17 April 2002 [52] http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/raytheonprofile.htm (Source: Raytheon, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [53] Boston Herald; 1 November 2000; pg. 043 [54] 'Massive job cuts announced', 29 January 1998, by Larry Roberts, http://www.wsws.org/news/1998/jan1998/jobcut.shtml (source: World Socialist Web Site, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [55] 'Raytheon to cut 400 engineering jobs in Tucson', Boston Business Journal, 29 January 2002, web-site: http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2002/01/28/daily21.html accessed 17 April 2002 [56]'Raytheon: More layoffs likely', 1 February 2002, The Wichita Eagle, web-site: http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/business/2581881.htm accessed 17 April 2002 [57] www.essential.org/monitor/hyper/issues/1991/03/mm0391_10.html (source: Multinational Monitor, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [58] http://www.essential.org/monitor/hyper/issues/1991/03/mm0391_10.html (source: Multinational Monitor, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [59] www.ipan.net/starwars/rogues.pdf (source: Indiana Peace Action Network, date viewed: 01/10/01) [60] http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/raytheonprofile.htm (Source: Raytheon Watch, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [61] www.ipan.net/starwars/raytheon.pdf (source: Indiana Peace Action Network, date viewed: 01/10/01) [62] http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/raytheonprofile.htm (Source: Raytheon Watch, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [63] http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/raytheonprofile.htm (Source: Raytheon Watch, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [64] http://www.gis.net/~larrabee/classaction.htm [65] ipan.net/starwars/raytheon.pdf (source: Indiana Peace Action Network, date viewed: 01/10/01) [66] ipan.net/starwars/raytheon.pdf (source: Indiana Peace Action Network, date viewed: 01/10/01) [67] www.gis.net/~larrabee/Brazil.htm (source: Raytheon Watch, date viewed: 17 April 2002) [68] 'Andean Drug War update: dissent against Washington's drugs war emerges as chaos spreads', by Bill Weinberg, The shadow web-site: http://www.mediafilter.org/shadow/S42/S42dea.html accessed 17 April 2002 [69] 'Report on performance of patriot missile in Gulf War', Federation of American Scientists (FAS), News Release, 6 April 1992, http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1992_h/h920407i.htm accessed 17 April 2002 [70]'Defence Electronics, The West-Indian Trade of the 21st Century', NODE News 52, May/June 2001, web-site: http://www.nodenet.org/NN/derryarms.html accessed 17 April 2002 [71] www.gis.net/~larrabee/raytheonprofile.htm (source: Raytheon Watch, date viewed: 17/04/02)