Connect with us

Former Bush official runs secretive ‘Cockroaches’ group



Even if they are actually “only a bit better at surviving radiation than” humans, it has often been theorized that only cockroaches might withstand a nuclear blast and “inherit the earth.”

A Capitol Hill newspaper sheds some light on a secretive group using that nickname.

Roll Call’s Paul Singer reports, “Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) hangs out with Cockroaches.”

These are not the crunchy, skittery kind of cockroaches that terrorize your kitchen, but the well-shod Washington insider kind that gather several times a year for a high-powered confab on defense and intelligence matters.

The Cockroaches are a venerable Washington, D.C., institution that has apparently never been written about, a kind of not-so-secret society for several hundred current and former defense intelligence officials, private-sector contracting firms, lobbyists, Congressional staffers and Members of Congress. The group meets every other month or so for off-the-record dinners to discuss new developments in defense and intelligence, and to swap war stories, literally and figuratively.



At the center of the Cockroaches are Gary Sojka and Michael Swetnam, two former staffers who decided to start a supper club. Swetnam worked in the White House in the George H.W. Bush administration, and Sojka was a staff member on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

The idea was to continue to share information and stay connected to official Washington and each other, they said. Sojka also launched the lobbying firm Potomac Advocates — though he points out that his firm does more strategic advising than lobbying these days. Swetnam runs a think tank/research center called the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, which he and Sojka founded to replace the independent scientific advisory capacity that Congress lost when the Office of Technology Assessment was shut down in 1995. The institute takes nearly all of its funding from government contracts and occasional earmarks, but it is prohibited from lobbying, Swetnam said.

An online bio adds, “From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Swetnam served as a Special Consultant to President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) where he provided expert advice on Intelligence Community issues including budget, community architecture, and major programs. He also assisted in authoring the Board’s assessment of Intelligence Community support to Desert Storm/Shield.”

While, Sojka also is a “seasoned Republican fund-raiser and a registered lobbyist.”


The Potomac Institute website only briefly alludes to the group:

On February 11, 2009, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies hosted a special private dinner event in D.C. featuring General James E. Cartwright, Vice Chairman o f the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the keynote speaker.

General Cartwright, who is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Nation’s second highest ranking military officer, addressed the audience of about 150 guests about the importance of cyber security to our national security efforts. This event was one of six that the Potomac Institute hosts during the year as part of the “Cockroaches” dinner event series for invited guests from the defense and intelligence communities.

More from the Roll Call story:


The group is a classic only-in-Washington establishment. The express purpose is to provide government officials, Members of Congress and staff, and private-sector experts in defense and intelligence the opportunity to mingle, network and discuss broad topics of interest in an off-the-record social setting.

The odd name is a reference to the notion that only cockroaches would survive nuclear war. According to the group’s prospectus, “election years in Washington often lead to change in the controlling party in Congress or the Administration. Politically this event is similar to a nuclear explosion in that most seniors must resign or are asked to leave. The survivors often move from Congress to the Administration or to industry or back into Congress. Since scientists have stated that the only living things that might survive a nuclear blast are cockroaches the group adopted the name to signify our ability to survive political change in Washington DC.”

The article notes, “Several staff members from the Senate Armed Services Committee used to be regular attendees, the men said, but Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has recently discouraged staff from attending out of concern about accepting free meals from the group.”

But Sojka and Swetnam said the dinners are not an opportunity for private companies to lobby military officials for assistance with specific projects. “This is not a forum where anybody — a lobbyist or a corporate guy — trying to work an issue with a Hill guy or a Defense guy would be anything but shunned,” Swetnam said.


Sojka added that while the Cockroaches group includes many members from private companies, most of them are not clients of Potomac Advocates, and very few are lobbyists.

For all of its secrecy — the events are not advertised, all meetings are off-the-record and it is hard to find anybody willing to discuss their involvement — Sojka, Nichols and Swetnam insist it is a very open organization. “People just ask to come, and we’ve never turned anyone away,” Sojka said. Events are announced to a mailing list, but “we’ve never invited anyone to join,” he said.


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Pentagon gives senators classified briefing on UFOs reported by the Navy



While it might sound like something out of "The X-Files," Navy pilots have been seeing UFOs, and U.S. Senators now want to know what's happening.

According to Politico, three more senators met with Pentagon officials for a classified briefing Wednesday about encounters pilots are having with unidentified aircraft. It seems the Pentagon is getting more and more requests by officials with high clearances to figure out what's happening.

The crafts are, at their most basic, nothing more than "unidentified aircraft," and while it isn't likely they're little green men, there are some senators who might have concerns about whether these UFOs are actually a foreign adversary.

Continue Reading


Tucker Carlson: If America is so racist, why is Cory Booker a senator?



Fox News host Tucker Carlson has made no secret of his contempt for multiculturalism, even going so far as to suggest that diversity is not our "strength."

At the same time, however, he firmly believes that America is not a racist country, and has no reason to give reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans. The proof? New Jersey elected a black senator!

"Sen. Cory Booker made a guest appearance at the [reparations] hearing. He claimed that the same country that has made him one of the most powerful figures in the land, is in fact incorrigibly racist," said Carlson. He played a clip of Booker saying, "We as a nation have not yet truly acknowledged and grappled with racism and white supremacy that has tainted this country's founding and continues to persist in those deep racial disparities and inequalities today."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Wall Street Journal issues blistering op-ed asking Trump what the point is of a second term



In a blistering op-ed, the Wall Street Journal is asking President Donald Trump what the point of a second term is since he hasn't done anything in his first term.

During his rally in Orlando Tuesday, Trump repeated the same tired lines and same tired policies from 2016. The "Promises Made, Promises Kept" slogan shown over the crowd, yet the supporters didn't understand the irony.

"The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was," the editorial board said. "Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile."

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.