Since U.S. military actions in Afghanistan were authorized in September 2001, the stocks of the top five defense companies have risen in value by an average of nearly 900%, strongly outperforming the S&P 500 index.
Among those who have benefitted from investments in the stocks are nearly four dozen members of Congress, the people who approve funding for the contracts that make up the bulk of the companies’ revenues.
At least 47 members of Congress and their spouses hold between $2 million and $6.7 million worth of stock in companies that are among the top 100 defense contractors, a Sludge analysis of financial disclosures found.
The war in Afghanistan has caused an estimated up to 174,000 direct war deaths, according to the Costs of War Project, with economic costs reaching over $2.26 trillion there and in Pakistan. The total cost of post-9/11 wars including Iraq and other operations has surpassed $6.4 trillion through last year.
At least 11 U.S. senators hold up to $1.7 million in defense industry stocks and at least 36 U.S. representatives hold a maximum value of over $5 million. Congress only reports its investments in broad ranges, so it’s not possible to know exactly how much their stocks are worth. Members of Congress have at least 108 investments in 16 major defense contractors, including all of the top 10 companies by defense revenue.