Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tanker Whispers

Nothing gets D.C. more excited than a good whisper campaign, and it seems the KC-30 team is trying hard to titillate the K-Street crowd with their latest doozy.

For those fortunate enough to live outside the beltway and not familiar with whisper campaigns, the following is a pretty good description from Wikipedia:

A whisper campaign is a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them (for example, a political campaign might distribute anonymous flyers attacking the other candidate). It is generally considered unethical in open societies, particularly in matters of public policy.

In one of their daily e-blasts the KC-30 team suggests Boeing is willing to spend an astounding $250 million to overturn the tanker decision. For this number they cite a National Journal article written by Bara Vaida.

It is reveling though that in the article the only sources for the $250 million figure are a spokesman from EADS NA and a senior VP at Northrop. Here is the passage in the article:
“We’ve heard [the number] through an Air Force source and a couple of other Hill sources,” said Sam Adcock, senior vice president of government relations at EADS North America. Northrop spokesman Randy Belote said he, too, has “heard that number thrown around.” A spokesman for the Air Force said that it “is not aware of the specifics” on how much Boeing is spending on its protest.

We can almost imagine these two going on and on about how they hear this $250 million number in conversations all over town, when they are probably the only ones doing the talking.

The article's author deserves some credit for being able to see right through this and he asks:
Is the quarter-billion-dollar figure realistic, or is it being talked up as part of a strategy to counter Boeing? Doug Kennett, a Boeing spokesman, said the $250 million number is “so ridiculous that you almost don’t want to respond to it.”

In this case, ridiculous may be an understatement. The consensus at Tanker War Blog is that at most the eight figure mark will be broken, and it will probably be on the low end of that. Also, regardless of what Boeing spends, in the end, they will be outspent by NG and EADS. After all, at this point it's the KC-30 team's contract to lose.

We will leave it up to other blogs, or possibly future posts of our own, to hypothesize about any possible motives for wanting to start this rumor, but we will close with a quote from one of the KC-30's very own supporters.

When Senator McCain commented on the people who carried out the whisper campaign against him and his family during the 2000 South Carolina presidential primary he said, "I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those."

No comments: