II. Spies for Hire: New Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors
Published by Special to CorpWatch | By Tim Shorrock | Monday, November 16, 2009
CorpWatch Releases Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors
Joint project with SPIES FOR HIRE author Tim Shorrock
Now available at SPIES FOR HIRE.org
â¢ Tim Shorrock: E-mail: timshorrock [at] gmail [dot] com
â¢ CorpWatch: Tonya Hennessey: E-mail: tonya [at] corpwatch [dot] org
For immediate release
November 16, 2009
WASHINGTON – Starting today, journalists, activists, and corporate researchers will be able to use the Internet site SpiesForHire.org to track the nation’s most important intelligence contractors.
Increasingly, secret drone attacks in Pakistan, CIA prisons in Guantanamo, and domestic surveillance of American citizens, have drawn public scrutiny to U.S. intelligence. These and other policies have triggered calls for criminal investigations and congressional commissions to investigate possible abuses in the post-9/11 “war on terror.”
But there’s a big piece missing from the national debate about spying: the role of private intelligence contractors. After journalist Tim Shorrock’s 2008 investigation, U.S. officials confirmed that 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget goes directly to private companies working under contract to the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies. With the U.S. intelligence budget estimated at $60 billion a year, the outsourced business of intelligence is a $45 billion annual industry.
To help the public and media understand this new phenomenon, CorpWatch is joining today with Shorrock, the first journalist to blow the whistle on the privatization of U.S. intelligence, to create a groundbreaking database focusing on the dozens of corporations that provide classified intelligence services to the United States government.
This database expands on Shorrock’s 2008 book, SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.
SpiesForHire.org’s detailed descriptions and histories of the companies that make up this new class of mercenaries will make it your guide to the new U.S. Intelligence-Industrial Complex.
Included are defense giants such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon; lesser-known but still influential companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, and CACI International; and dozens of Beltway Bandits that have set up shop in D.C. and environs to feed the government’s insatiable appetite for contract intelligence.
These contractors, database users will find, do it all:
â¢ At the CIA, they conduct interrogations at Guantanamo, run stations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots, and help transport suspected terrorists- including some later found innocent-to countries known to practice torture.
â¢ At the NSA, they work alongside agency employees at listening posts in Maryland, Georgia, Hawaii, the UK, and elsewhere to monitor telephone calls and emails between U.S. citizens and targeted foreigners.
â¢ From bases in Nevada and Virginia, they control the military and CIA Predators that launch missiles at suspected terrorist bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
â¢ Contractors also run covert operations, write intelligence reports that are passed up the line of command all the way to the president, and advise agencies on how to spend taxpayer dollars.
SpiesForHire.org is a component of CorpWatch’s existing Crocodyl database on global corporations. Based on Shorrock’s research for his book and for CorpWatch, Salon, Mother Jones, and other publications, the site will feature essential information ab0ut each major contractor, such as its key executives for intelligence operations, its major intelligence clients, and an analysis of its role in the U.S. intelligence system.
The database is an ongoing project. Starting from a base of a dozen companies and intelligence agencies, it will eventually include all the major private sector players in the business of U.S. government spying. Each profile will be regularly updated. Unlike Crocodyl, which registered users can augment, SpiesForHire.org will be edited exclusively by Shorrock and the CorpWatch staff, who will also vet and fact check any volunteer or whistleblower contributions.
Since 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government’s use of private sector contractors for tasks of war has made headlines: Halliburton’s lucrative Iraqi reconstruction contracts, CACI International’s civilian interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and Blackwater’s (now Xe) shooting of noncombatants in Baghdad-to name a few. Less well known is U.S. contractor involvement in Latin America, for example in executing the U.S. war on drugs in countries like Colombia.
This site will, for the first time, expose the size and scope of the private sector’s influence on U.S. intelligence agencies-and the government’s unsettling efforts to hide the facts.
ABOUT CORPWATCH and CROCODYL (http://community.corpwatch.org)
A global community of non-profit, independent investigative research, journalism and advocacy around issues of multinational corporate accountability and transparency, the CorpWatch community of sites provides tools and resources for critical vigilance and advocacy through a global effort of NGOs, journalists, activists, whistleblowers and academics. Through its family of websites and social media, we seek to expose multinational corporations that that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.
CorpWatch.org provides non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency.
Crocodyl.org is an evolving compendium of critical research, posted to the public domain as an aid to anyone working to hold corporations increasingly accountable. Crocodyl enables disparate groups and individuals to pool our knowledge about specific corporations in order to reduce the high cost of corporate research.
ABOUT TIM SHORROCK
Tim Shorrock is an investigative journalist who has spent a quarter-century researching the intersection of national security and business. SPIES FOR HIRE, his groundbreaking book on the privatization of U.S. intelligence, was published to great acclaim in 2008 by Simon & Schuster, and released in paperback in May 2009. Shorrock’s work has appeared in many publications in the United States and abroad, including The Nation, Salon, Mother Jones, Harper’s, Inter Press Service, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, The Journal of Commerce, Foreign Policy in Focus, and Asia Times. He appears frequently as a commentator on U.S intelligence and foreign policy, and has been interviewed on Pacifica’s “Democracy Now,” Air America, and CBS Radio. Shorrock grew up in Japan and South Korea, and now lives in Washington, D.C., where he researches government contracts for an AFL-CIO union representing federal employees.
AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
9 Lockheed Martin
17 Science Applications International Corporation
106 Money & Politics
III. The NSA’s metastasised intelligence-industrial complex is ripe for abuse
Where oversight and accountability have failed, Snowden’s leaks have opened up a vital public debate on our rights and privacy
Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson
Sun 23 Jun 2013 13.00 BST First published on Sun 23 Jun 2013 13.00 BST
NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah
By September 2013, the NSA’s new data centre will employ around 200 technicians, occupying 1m sq ft and use 65 megawatts of power. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP
Let’s be absolutely clear about the news that the NSA collects massive amounts of information on US citizens – from emails, to telephone calls, to videos, under the Prism program and other Fisa court orders: this story has nothing to do with Edward Snowden. As interesting as his flight to Hong Kong might be, the pole-dancing girlfriend, and interviews from undisclosed locations, his fate is just a sideshow to the essential issues of national security versus constitutional guarantees of privacy, which his disclosures have surfaced in sharp relief.
Snowden will be hunted relentlessly and, when finally found, with glee, brought back to the US in handcuffs and severely punished. (If Private Bradley Manning’s obscene conditions while incarcerated are any indication, it won’t be pleasant for Snowden either, even while awaiting trial.) Snowden has already been the object of scorn and derision from the Washington establishment and mainstream media, but, once again, the focus is misplaced on the transiently shiny object. The relevant issue should be: what exactly is the US government doing in the people’s name to “keep us safe” from terrorists?
Prism and other NSA data-mining programs might indeed be very effective in hunting and capturing actual terrorists, but we don’t have enough information as a society to make that decision. Despite laudable efforts led by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall to bring this to the public’s attention that were continually thwarted by the administration because everything about this program was deemed “too secret”, Congress could not even exercise its oversight responsibilities. The intelligence community and their friends on the Hill do not have a right to interpret our rights absent such a discussion.
The shock and surprise that Snowden exposed these secrets is hard to understand when over 1.4 million Americans hold “top secret” security clearances. When that many have access to sensitive information, is it really so difficult to envision a leak?
We are now dealing with a vast intelligence-industrial complex that is largely unaccountable to its citizens. This alarming, unchecked growth of the intelligence sector and the increasingly heavy reliance on subcontractors to carry out core intelligence tasks – now estimated to account for approximately 60% of the intelligence budget – have intensified since the 9/11 attacks and what was, arguably, our regrettable over-reaction to them.
The roots of this trend go back at least as far as the Reagan era, when the political right became obsessed with limiting government and denigrating those who worked for the public sector. It began a wave of privatization – because everything was held to be more “cost-efficient” when done by the private sector – and that only deepened with the political polarization following the election of 2000. As it turns out, the promises of cheaper, more efficient services were hollow, but inertia carried the day.
Today, the intelligence sector is so immense that no one person can manage, or even comprehend, its reach. When an operation in the field goes south, who would we prefer to try and correct the damage: a government employee whose loyalty belongs to his country (despite a modest salary), or the subcontractor who wants to ensure that his much fatter paycheck keeps coming?
Early polls of Americans about their privacy concerns that the government might be collecting metadata from phone calls and emails indicates that there is little alarm; there appears to be, in fact, an acceptance of or resignation to these practices. To date, there is no proof that the government has used this information to pursue and harass US citizens based on their political views. There are no J Edgar Hoover-like “enemy lists” … yet. But it is not so difficult to envision a scenario where any of us has a link, via a friend of a friend, to someone on the terrorist watchlist. What then? You may have no idea who this person is, but a supercomputer in Fort Meade (or, soon, at the Utah Data Center near Salt Lake City) will have made this connection. And then you could have some explaining to do to an over-zealous prosecutor.
On this spying business, officials from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to self-important senators are, in effect, telling Americans not to worry: it’s not that big a deal, and “trust us” because they’re keeping US citizens safe. This position must be turned on its head and opened up to a genuine discussion about the necessary, dynamic tension between security and privacy. As it now stands, these programs are ripe for abuse unless we establish ground rules and barriers between authentic national security interests and potential political chicanery.
The irony of former Vice-President Dick Cheney wringing his hands over the release of classified information is hard to watch. Cheney calls Snowden a traitor. Snowden may not be a hero, but the fact is that we owe him a debt of gratitude for finally bringing this question into the public square for the robust discussion it deserves.
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