Preview: Book Salon on Spies for Hire

shorrock.jpgI wanted to give you all a heads up to a mid-week book salon I’ll be hosting today at 3PM ET over at the mother ship: Tim Shorrock’s Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. I pushed to include Shorrock on the schedule because (as you’ll see in my post at 3) his book offers some key insights on FISA–and we seem to be gearing up for another FISA fight.

But there’s more than FISA that might interest you about the book (and about chatting with Shorrock). He gives the corporate back-story to:

  • Rick Renzi’s corruption
  • The domestic spying Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA)
  • CACI, the company whose contractors directed the torture at Abu Ghraib
  • Total Information Awareness
  • The domestic satellite surveillance Chertoff wants to use with DHS

Shorrock wraps that background story in a discussion both of the ideology behind the privatization of our intelligence function:

…as we’ve seen, money and profits are not the sole motivators for the corporations and executives who populate the Intelligence Industrial Complex. Because so many top executives are former intelligence officers themselves, many of their companies are motivated by politics as well. For CACI’s CEO, Jack London, that translates into a desire to "disseminate vital intelligence" for the fight against "Islamofascists." For ManTech CEO George Pederson, it’s a yearning for his company to be "on the battlefield," whether in Iraq, South Korea, or the Philippines. For the senior vice presidents of the big prime contractors, Booz Allen Hamilton and Science Applications International Corporation, it involves power, either as a way to influence future policy or make changes in the way the Intelligence Community is organized.

And a discussion of the subservience of public to private interest in such an Intelligence-Industrial Complex.

In the past, [former NSA Director Kenneth] Minihan said, contractors "used to support military operations; now we participate [in them]. We’re inextricably tied to the success of their operations." This new situation, he argued, presents corporations with "interesting opportunities" to create technologies that governments can take advantage of, "with all the complexities that exist in merging the interests of the private and public sector in the intelligence apparatus."

Merging the interests of the private and public sector. That astonishing phrase, which is now the mantra of the intelligence contracting industry, suggests the creation of a new mode of capitalism that specifically serves theneeds of government and its "intelligence apparatus." The implications are staggering: once private and public interests are merged, then the need for oversight disappears, along with regulation and other institutions designed to act as a brake on unbridled capitalist development or as watchdogs against corruption. Indeed, with 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget now going to private sector contractors, we may have already reached the point of no return. [emphasis and second brackets original; first brackets mine]

Under the leadership of Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, the Bush Administration has handed over the keys to our privacy to these companies that believe in profit and the fight against Islamofascists.

Want to find out more? Join Tim Shorrock and me at 3PM ET.

13 replies
  1. JimWhite says:

    In this context, don’t forget McConnell’s previous “posting” at Booz Allen Hamilton. He seems to be a poster child for this merging of interests.

  2. MarieRoget says:

    This Book Salon looks excellent, thanks for noting it. I’ll have to read the Shorrocks post & thread this evening, but have emailed yr. post announcing it to those in my address book who might like to drop in for the Q&A.

      • selise says:

        not your fault – i should be paying attention to these things. anyway, i’m very glad you are doing it. and i just ordered the book, which i would not have done without reading this post. and to add to the book goodness, sand’s book was waiting in my checkout cart for something to make the order qualify for free shipping. so thanks – they are both on their way now!

  3. Anna says:

    Will not be able to join your important Salon today,


    1. Col Karpinski has stated that there were foreign individuals at Abu Grarib directing to torture taking place at that prison. What can he tell us about Col. Karpinski’s claims?…..ormer_head

    2. Just after 9/11 Carl Cameron of Fox news reported in four parts on Fox News ( I do watch to see what other peoples perspectives are) that there were “allegedly” several hundred young Israeli spies operating in the U.S. before the attack on 9/11. The media coverage on this issue was quickly shut down and that four part report was quickly pulled from Fox News website. What can your guest tell us about this “alleged”investigation into Israeli spies?


    3. Also in that four part report Cameron reported that Israeli based communication and data mining companies (Amdocs which supposedly has access to 95% of all U.S. phone companies billing records and Comverse Infosys) may have “mistakenly”? provided a back door in their systems to foreign spying which may have jeopardized U.S. National Security. What can he tell us about this?

    4. What can he tell us about that meeting in Italy with Ledeen, Harold Rhode, larry Franklin, (now serving a prison sentence), Manucher Ghorbanifar which supposedly had to do with Iraq and Iran?

    ……I thought Colin Powell forbid these folks to meet after that meeting?


    5. Can he address why we are not hearing much about the U.S. Vs. Rosen investigation and trial in the MSM or the so called “progressive” blogosphere? Few Americans know about this investigation and trial which has to do with Aipac’s Rosen and Weissman “allegedly” handing over highly classified intelligence having to do with Iran to Israeli officials.

    U.S. vs. Rosen indictment…..ug2005.htm

    I keep calling the Alexandria Division of the U.S. District Courts since this investigation and trial having to do with Aipac’s prior officials allegedly handing off classified intelligence about Iran to Israeli Officials seems to be “off limits” or territory too dangerous or intimidating for the MSM and “progressive” blogosphere to cover. The last update from one of the folks who answer the phone at that division is that there are on going private hearings reviewing the classified documents having to do with the case and that there are two motion hearing open to the public on May 20th and May 29th.

    What can you tell us about this investigation and trial having to do with foreign spying and the mis-use of classified intelligence?

    6. What can he tell us about the status of Phase II of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which has to do with the investigation of the pre-war intelligence used to lie our nation into the invasion of Iraq? From my understanding Republican Senator Pat Roberts did everything he could do to divert, delay and dilute Phase I and Phase II

    ……..Has the Office of Special Plans been thoroughly investigated? Will Americans ever witness anyone held accountable for this false pre-war intelligence? Is Dem. Senator Rockefeller doing any better job than Rep. Senator Roberts at bringing those responsible for creating, cherry picking and dessiminating this false intelligence to JUSTICE?

    7. What can he tell us about the Niger Documents? Will anyone be held accountable for these documents that were immediately debunnked by the director of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Mr. El Baradei at the UN in early March of 2003 just before the invasion. (I will never forget that day and how the MSM basically ignored what El Baradei had to say about the validity of these documents as the Bush administration marched ahead with their illegal and immoral invasion.

    8. What can he tell us about the “alleged” spying on Colin Powell by John Bolton? I will never forget the Senate hearings on John BOlton’s nomination to the UN where I thought Senators Biden, Boxer, Kennedy, Dodd, Kerry, and Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee looked as if they might jump over the tables and strangle Bolton for being so arrogant while they were demanding that the Bush administration turn over those NSA intercepts that they have the right to and have been demanding for a very long time.

    Sidney Blumenthal covers this topic in this article
    The good soldier’s revenge
    In Colin Powell’s battle to block Bush’s nominee to the UN, far more is at stake than John Bolton’s unsuitability
    Sidney Blumenthal…

    “And after Bolton attempted to coerce a state department intelligence officer to agree to an unfounded report about nonexistent Cuban WMD, Powell personally assembled the entire intelligence staff to instruct them to ignore Bolton. When the British foreign secretary Jack Straw complained to Powell that Bolton was obstructing negotiations with Iran on the development of nuclear weapons, Powell ordered Bolton to be cut out of the process, telling an aide: “Get a different view.” The British also objected to Bolton’s interference in talks with Libya, and again Powell removed Bolton. But as much as he may have wanted to, Powell could not dismiss him because of his powerful patron: Vice-President Cheney.

    The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

    Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell.

    If the intercepts are released they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counter-intelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, who would resemble the hunted character played by Will Smith in Enemy of the State. Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the state department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee. But Rice so far has refused. What is she hiding by her cover-up?”

    ##### Have these intercepts ever been released?

  4. 4jkb4ia says:

    Outstanding review of this book by MB at Kos on Sunday night. Definitely worth reading.

  5. john in sacramento says:

    Since this probably off topic for the book salon …

    DNS trouble knocks NSA off Internet

    A server problem at the U.S. National Security Agency has knocked the secretive intelligence agency off the Internet.

    The agency’s Web site was unresponsive at 7 a.m. Pacific time Thursday and continued to be unavailable throughout the morning for Internet users.…..a-off.html

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