SPIES FOR HIRE: The 70 Percent Solution

Here it is, the 2007 ODNI slide that says , in bright color, exactly how much of the U.S. intelligence budget goes to contractors.

I first reported this amazing figure in Salon on June 1, 2007, and I’ve been citing it all week all over the web and the airwaves. It’s from a presentation by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence entitled “Procuring the Future: 21st Century Intelligence Acquisition” given to an outsourcing conference organized by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2007.

The slides came to me via a whistleblower who was at the conference who will forever remain nameless. I received it over the transom late one night in Memphis, Tennessee, where I was living when I wrote my book Spies for Hire. The pie chart knocked me right out of my chair: seventy percent? You gotta be kidding. I’d been looking for a figure like this for years.

Previously, my best estimate was 50 percent, which I reported in a 2005 article in Mother Jones that marked one of my first forays into the very strange world of intelligence contracting. There’s no reason to believe the percentage has changed. And with this year’s intelligence budget estimated at about $80 billion, that’s a $56 billion market. No wonder Michael Hayden is so happy.

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