Monday, June 12, 2006

Scott Badenoch has a conflict of interest

[Guest post by tas]

Over on my blog, my guest blogger Mark called attention to this Wizbang post, which calls attention to an AP article, wherein a man named Scott Badenoch claims that all of the armor that's been added to our military's Humvees in Iraq have made them more dangerous, reasoning that the added weight makes them more prone to rollover accidents.

But who is Scott Badenoch? The AP article says that he's "a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert," but what the article does not mention is that Badenoch is working for the Georgia Institute of Technology on a vehicle that's aiming to replace Humvees in Iraq.

Plagued by persistent roadside bombs in Iraq, the U.S. Marine Corps is exploring safer tactical-vehicle alternatives to its widely used Humvee.[...]

The Office of Naval Research and the Marine Corps War-Fighting Lab are funding an approximately $1.9 million project to develop the Ultra Armored Patrol vehicle and its more advanced sibling, the Ultra 3T. But critics in Congress caution that the project could risk falling by the wayside, just like hundreds of other endeavors that have never moved from the development phase to the production line. [...]

“The program has been underfunded, and to some extent it has been personally funded,” said Scott Badenoch, the institute’s principle scientist and project manager. “The money is less than a 10th that it would take to do this program at a car company,” added Badenoch, who worked at General Motors and on a NASCAR team.

Badenoch goes on to note that the Ultra program is being underfunded:

“It could have been done six months ago but did not have money,” said Badenoch. “We have the solution, and if we had 2 percent of what they put in the Humvees I could have given you vehicles in Iraq.”

There are positive and negative lights in which to view this article. One positive way could be to say that Badenoch is right, he has the best of intentions in his heart and he really is speaking out to protect our soldiers. I've never met Mr. Badenoch and I've never talked with him before, so I don't know him personally through any sustained email communications or the like. I can't say what's on his mind.

However, judging solely from the facts, what I do know is that Mr. Badenoch has a financial interest in seeing military Humvees go the way of the dinosaur. That's a huge conflict of interest if he's actively speaking out against Humvees, and maybe even obfuscating the facts surrounding their usage and safety. The AP, and all of the outlets which have published the AP story, should have let its readers know about Mr. Badenoch's employment history if they are going to base articles off his opinions.

But since the demonization of Humvees means a potential payday for Mr. Badenoch, why should I trust anything he has to say on the matter?


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