Fox News has leaned heavily on retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane’s expertise since the fall of Kabul to criticize President Joe Biden for the withdrawal from, and end to, the Afghanistan War.
While Keane’s experience as the former vice chief of staff of the United States Army has been trumpeted in his dozens of recent on-air appearances, what has gone thus far undisclosed is Keane’s current role as an executive for a defense contractor that has profited a great deal from the 20-year war.
Since October 2016, Keane has served as the executive chairman of AM General, the military vehicle manufacturer that makes Humvees. As liberal watchdog Media Matters for America reported Tuesday, AM General received a $459 million contract in 2017 to provide more than 2,000 Humvees to Afghanistan through 2023.
Keane, who is also employed by Fox News as the network’s senior strategic analyst, has appeared on Fox News or its sister channel Fox Business Network at least 33 times since Aug. 16. Neither Keane nor any of his hosts have brought up his position with the defense firm or the deal his company secured to profit directly from the prolonged engagement in Afghanistan.
While all of Keane’s recent Fox News segments have focused on the Afghanistan situation in general, there has been no discussion in any of his appearances specifically about Humvees or AM General. Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Keane’s chairmanship with AM General is also missing from his official bio on Fox News’ digital news site. The page does, however, mention that he is the chairman for the Institute of the Study of War, a defense policy think tank that receives financial backing from several military contractors.
Throughout his frequent television hits over the past two weeks, Keane has repeatedly blasted the Biden administration’s decision to pull all American troops from the country. He’s claimed that the withdrawal puts America’s “national honor” at stake and that it has been a “shameful display of American leadership,” all while suggesting the administration should have stayed in Afghanistan until “sometime next year.”
Keane’s failure to disclose his financial ties to conflict in Afghanistan has not been limited to Fox News airwaves. In a January 2020 speech at an event for the conservative Heritage Foundation, Keane advocated for the extension of America’s involvement in Afghanistan while failing to ever mention his company’s financial interest in a prolonged war.
As reported by The Intercept last week, apart from AM General, Keane also sits on the board of Cyalume Technologies Inc., a firm that manufactures chemical lights for the military. This has also never been disclosed during his Fox appearances opining on the conflict. Prior to his current defense contractor gigs, the retired general was the director of weapons giant General Dynamics and an adviser to private military company Academi, previously known as Blackwater.
Keane infamously recommended the disastrous Afghan counterinsurgency strategy to Congress in 2009, but he is hardly the only Afghanistan War architect that has frequented cable news in recent weeks—all while conveniently neglecting to disclose potential conflicts of interest.
During former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent appearance on CNN in which he compared the withdrawal to the Bay of Pigs, for instance, neither host John King nor Panetta mentioned he was a senior counselor for a defense consulting firm or member of software corporation Oracle’s board of directors. Instead, only his past credentials as a member of former President Barack Obama’s administration were referenced.
David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, is another Afghanistan hawk and architect who has made the cable-news rounds recently without disclosure of his defense industry ties.
While grousing that the withdrawal is a “Dunkirk moment” and that Biden “should literally reverse the decision” in TV interviews, Petraeus never noted his seat on the board of a cybersecurity firm that contracts with the Department of Defense. He also did not mention his role as a partner at KKR and Co., a private equity firm with a major stake in defense spending.