Emptywheel
July 19, 2010

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In my review of Tim Shorrock’s important Spies for Hire, I summarized one of the most important parts of the narrative he tells in the book.

Shorrock describes, for example, [Mike] McConnell’s key role in the formation of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade organization that serves as a bridge between large intelligence contractors (like Booz Allen, SAIC, Computer Sciences Corporation, and ManTech) and the officers from CIA, NSA, and DHS who join them on the board of the organization. “INSA,” Shorrock explains, “is one of the only business associations in Washington that include current government officials on their board of directors.” Shorrock describes how INSA worked with the DNI (back when John Negroponte was DNI and McConnell was head of INSA and a VP at Booz Allen) to foster information sharing in the intelligence community–including with contractors. He reports that, for the first time in 2006, INSA’s contractors were consulted on the DNI’s strategic plans for the next decade. And Shorrock describes one intelligence veteran wondering “if INSA has become a way for contractors and intelligence officials to create policy in secret, without oversight from Congress.”

McConnell, after nurturing this enhanced relationship between contractors and government intelligence services, ascended to serve as DNI. He was, Shorrock points out, “the first contractor ever to be named to lead the Intelligence Community.” Once confirmed, McConnell immediately buried a report assessing the practice of outsourcing intelligence. And he worked to further expand the ties between government spying and its contractors.

[snip]

[The warrantless wiretap program] not just about Bush and Cheney ignoring laws and spying on citizens (though it is that). It’s that, in the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration is creating a monstrous new Intelligence-Industrial Complex in which intelligence contractors and the government collaborate–with little oversight–to snoop at home and abroad.

Now, Shorrock’s book got far too little attention, IMO. But he did lay out in great detail the many problems with the degree to which we have outsourced our national security infrastructure to contractors (and Jeremy Scahill has, of course, tirelessly chronicled that as well).

Which is why I’m amused by the panic revealed in a memo the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a few weeks ago preparing all members of the intelligence community for an upcoming Dana Priest series covering the same terrain. The memo reveals:

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