I've banged on more than once over the last couple of years about the dangers inherent in Bush's privatization of the intelligence community. One is that too many of those private contractors involved in intelligence work have been central to or on the fringes of Bush administration and Republican corruption cases. Do you want people like that having access to your data? Another is the way in which the revolving door between the military, Bush administration officialdom and private contractors are allowing the neocon cancer to dig deep in the hope of surviving and even influencing the next White house incumbent...and the next...
Worth a read - Tim Shorrock at Salon:
More than five years into the global "war on terror," spying has become one of the fastest-growing private industries in the United States. The federal government relies more than ever on outsourcing for some of its most sensitive work, though it has kept details about its use of private contractors a closely guarded secret. Intelligence experts, and even the government itself, have warned of a critical lack of oversight for the booming intelligence business.Privatizing the totalitarian takeover?
On May 14, at an industry conference in Colorado sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. government revealed for the first time how much of its classified intelligence budget is spent on private contracts: a whopping 70 percent. Based on this year’s estimated budget of at least $48 billion, that would come to at least $34 billion in contracts.
...The DNI figures show that the aggregate number of private contracts awarded by intelligence agencies rose by about 38 percent from the mid-1990s to 2005. But the surge in outsourcing has been far more dramatic measured in dollars: Over the same period of time, the total value of intelligence contracts more than doubled, from about $18 billion in 1995 to about $42 billion in 2005.
"Those numbers are startling," said Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists and an expert on the U.S. intelligence budget. "They represent a transformation of the Cold War intelligence bureaucracy into something new and different that is literally dominated by contractor interests."
Because of the cloak of secrecy thrown over the intelligence budgets, there is no way for the American public, or even much of Congress, to know how those contractors are getting the money, what they are doing with it, or how effectively they are using it. The explosion in outsourcing has taken place against a backdrop of intelligence failures for which the Bush administration has been hammered by critics, from Saddam Hussein's fictional weapons of mass destruction to abusive interrogations that have involved employees of private contractors operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Aftergood and other experts also warn that the lack of transparency creates conditions ripe for corruption.
..."It's not like a debate when someone loses," said Aftergood. "There is no debate. And the more work that migrates to the private sector, the less effective congressional oversight is going to be." From that secretive process, he added, "there's only a short distance to the Duke Cunninghams of the world and the corruption of the process in the interest of private corporations." In March 2006, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who had resigned from Congress several months earlier, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of accepting more than $2 million in bribes from executives with MZM, a prominent San Diego defense contractor. In return for the bribes, Cunningham used his position on the House appropriations and intelligence committees to win tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts for MZM at the CIA and the Pentagon's CIFA office, which has been criticized by Congress for spying on American citizens. The MZM case deepened earlier this month when Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the former deputy director of the CIA, was indicted for conspiring with former MZM CEO Brent Wilkes to steer contracts toward the company.