US Intelligence & Outsourcing

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Read my recent posts on intelligence here.

Over the last 10 years, government outsourcing has spread to some of the crown jewels of US intelligence. From CIA analysis to NSA signals intelligence to the interrogation of enemy prisoners, private companies like SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton and CACI International are now making millions of dollars doing what the government used to do. Outsourcing has become so pervasive that the Director of National Intelligence decided to study the phenomenon last year. But when the report was finally completed in April 2007, the results were apparently so stunning that the DNI vetoed the idea of putting out a report and instead told reporters that disclosure of the figures would damage national security (read more about that here). I’ve been following these developments for the past six years and am writing a book about it that will be out in 2008. Click here to send me an e-mail (Note: news tips always welcome!)

Meanwhile, here’s a guide to some of my articles on the subject and links to several excellent blogs that follow the money:

  • The Spy Who Billed Me (Mother Jones) - The first major expose of intelligence outsourcing, published in 2005. “Of the estimated $40 billion the United States is expected to spend on intelligence this year, experts say at least 50 percent will go to private contractors.”
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Boardroom (Salon) – A look at the corporate past of the new DNI, Mike McConnell of Booz Allen Hamilton. “With revenues of $3.7 billion in 2005, Booz Allen is one of the nation’s biggest defense and intelligence contractors. Under McConnell’s watch, Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run…Booz Allen is almost certainly participating in the (NSA’s) warrantless surveillance of the telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens.”
  • Mike McConnell, Booz Allen and the Privatization of Intelligence (Democracy Now!) – In an interview with Amy Goodman, I discuss the implications of a Booz Allen executive running the DNI. “Every time you hear about intelligence watching North Korea or tapping al-Qaeda phones, something like that, you can bet that corporations like these are very heavily involved.”
  • Watching What You Say (The Nation) – An expose of the corporations that have been helping the NSA listen in on the telephone calls made by US citizens, under the Terrorist Surveillance Program. “Corporations have been cooperating with the NSA for half a century. What’s different now is that they appear to be helping the NSA deploy its awesome computing and data-mining powers inside the United States in direct contravention of US law, which specifically bans the agency from collecting information from US citizens living inside the United States.”
  • CACI and its Friends (The Nation) – An early look at the corporation that brought you Abu Ghraib. “J.P. ‘Jack London, CACI’s longtime chairman and CEO, told securities analysts that CACI is unaware of ‘any specific charges” against its employees but is “working diligently to get the facts.’ He added, ‘We feel we’ve done a fine job for the United States Army.’”

To keep up on the outsourcing phenomenon, here’s some blogs and websites to watch:

  • The Spy Who Billed Me. R. J. Hillhouse runs the only blog that keeps tracks of intelligence outsourcing on a regular basis. Her site is filled with intriguing information and interviews, and is widely read within the intelligence and defense communities. Recently, her interview with a top Blackwater executive was highlighted in The New York Times. She is also the author of OUTSOURCED, a soon-to-be released novel about this subject.
  • Secrecy News. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists publishes this blog, which covers intelligence and secrecy very broadly. If you want to keep up with the latest government reports, including many that are never publicized, subscribe to this excellent newsletter.
  • CorpWATCH. Few journalists have kept up with the outsourcing of war better than Pratap Chatterjee of CorpWatch. Go to this site and read the many articles he has written about the key companies involved in intelligence. Over the years, Chaterjee has broken some of the most important stories about this phenomenon.
  • Columbia Homeland Security Project. An excellent primer on the origins of intelligence outsourcing, produced by the Colombia Graduate School of Journalism. The lead article, “The Outsourcing of U.S. Intelligence Analysis,” is a must-read. Click here for a full list of the project’s work on the nexus between homeland security and capitalism.
  • War and Piece. Washington journalist Laura Rozen runs a comprehensive and sharply written blog on national security issues that often focuses on companies involved in intelligence. Her reporting on the MZM/CIA contracting scandal has been superb.
  • Other great sites to follow the intelligence money trail include Ken Silverstein’s “Washington Babylon” postings in Harper’s, and the Project for Government Oversight.

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