Jackson has more history with Iraq than your average rich-guy dilettante grape grower. The year before the US invasion, Jackson—then a Lockheed Martin executive—founded, with encouragement from White House officials, a group called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which helped advocate for the war. He agreed to serve as the chairman of the board of the Committee, even though he later acknowledged, in a 2007 Playboy interview, that at the time he "knew nothing about Iraq."In the run-up to the Iraq War, top advocates forecast that the whole thing would be a "cakewalk" and swore up and down that they were motivated by a heartfelt desire to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein's ouster would only be a first step in "the reconstruction of [Iraq's] economy and the establishment of political pluralism, democratic institutions, and the rule of law," Jackson pledged on the day the Committee was announced in late 2002.When asked about the outcome of the American invasion on that afternoon, Jackson acknowledged that America's fateful excursion there was "just a complete screw-up" and laid the blame on Bush administration officials. "The greatest mistake was letting [Donald] Rumsfeld run the damn thing," he said. "He didn't talk to anybody, didn't talk to our allies."Unlike Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other high-ranking officials who have been blamed for the disaster of the Iraq War, no one has ever protested against Jackson. There are few pictures of him online, and hardly anyone outside select corridors in DC seems to have paid him much mind. But the man has had a long, cushy career circulating in the halls of power—banging the drums of war, profiting from foreign adventures, and playing a key role in NGOs that have paid him and his loved ones generous salaries. He's a sort of neocon Forest Gump who's been hanging out in government circles for decades, assisting with the expansion of the ever-larger military industrial complex while amassing the kind of fortune that allows him to buy a vineyard in France and maintain an estate in DC.
Bruce Jackson's father was an investment banker and senior CIA official who specialized in psychological warfare; his mother was a socialite who would later marry a US Senator. Jackson grew up thoroughly inside the Beltway and came of age during the Reagan years. By 1986, he was a military intelligence officer working in the Pentagon on nuclear weapons policy and renting a modest apartment at 1711 Massachusetts Avenue NW, according to public records and that year's DC White Pages. Four years later, he left his government job to take a position in New York with Lehman Brothers, where he was a strategist for proprietary trading. (Basically, that's the often shady practice where a bank or financial institution trades on its own account or money rather than that of a customer.)He returned to Washington in 1993 to work as an executive at Martin Marietta, which merged with the Lockheed Corporation two years later to become the defense contractor behemoth Lockheed Martin. In 1997, Jackson was put in charge of finding overseas markets for the company's military toys.
A decade later, it wouldn't be controversial to argue that both the US and Iraq came out as losers in the war, but it was a win-win for Jackson and Lockheed.
Since then, Jackson has run or had a key role in three entities, all registered to the address of his DC estate: Bruce P. Jackson Consulting, the Project on Transitional Democracies (PTD), and We Remember Foundation. It's impossible to know all that much about his private consulting business, but the PTD and We Remember are nonprofits, and are therefore required to file annual IRS disclosure forms that offer some information.
The nonprofits also apparently served as personal piggybanks. The PTD once fronted Jackson a $150,000 advance on salary and on another occasion offered him a $70,000 interest-free loan. In 2008, We Remember loaned him $25,000 for "home office construction" at his DC estate and in 2006, PTD signed a lease that paid Jackson $36,000 annually to rent the space with tax-exempt money. The PTD also agreed to pick up 38 percent of the Jackson family's utilities, insurance, maid service, property taxes, security, and maintenance.Jackson's wife received approximately $130,000 in salary from her role as president of We Remember, and when the group dissolved as a 501c(3) in 2009, it transferred its $146,000 in remaining assets to the PTD. But We Remember didn't completely ignore victims of government repression in Belarus: During the course of its existence it made three grants totaling about $5,000—1 percent of the $500,000 it raised—to "families of political prisoners and those that have disappeared."
"You have an influential person who founded a nonprofit and lines up friends and they treat the nonprofit as a spending pool." - Notre Dame Law Professor Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer
When I called Jackson for comment on the nonprofits in February, he declined to give any, other than to say that he was in the process of shutting down the Project on Transnational Democracies."We haven't had a grant in two years," Jackson told me before hanging up. In a follow-up email conversation in late April, he said the nonprofit was dissolved."It had not received any contributions for at least a couple of years and has not paid salaries since the early years of the last decade," Jackson wrote.And by the way, a warning about the wine Jackson produces: It's pretty shitty, I'm told by one person who sampled it, so whatever you think of the Iraq War, don't buy it—or anything else he's selling in the future.Follow Ken Silverstein on Twitter.