Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Best Information Money Can Buy, Wholesale and Resale.

After it's gathered, anyone with the money can buy it again.

With no one to spot the double and triple billing, either.

The thousands of mercenary security contractors employed in the Bush administration's "War on Terror" are billed to American taxpayers, but they've handed Osama Bin Laden his greatest victories -- public relations coups that have transformed him from just another face in a crowd of radical clerics to a hero of millions in the global South (posters of Bin Laden have been spotted in largely Catholic Latin America during protests against George W. Bush).

The internet hums with viral videos of British contractors opening fire on civilian vehicles in Iraq as part of a bloody game, stories about CIA contractors killing prisoners in Afghanistan, veterans of Apartheid-era South African and Latin American death squads discovered among contractors' staffs and notoriously shady Russian arms dealers working for occupation authorities. One Special Forces operator told Amnesty International that some contractors are in it just because they "really want to kill somebody and they can do it easier there ... "

...According to Amnesty, half of the interrogators at Abu Ghraib were private contractors -- about 30 in all...

CACI, for California Analysis Center, Inc. (also known as Colonels and Captains), is among the top 10 information providers in the Fortune 500. The company was founded in 1962 as a computer-engineering firm, and later moved into network management for federal, state, and local governments. The company claims that, since Abu Ghraib, it no longer is in the interrogation business, but it remains a major intelligence contractor. Corporate spying has become a booming business -- it's estimated that half of the $46 billion classified intelligence budget is handled by the private sector, including everything from intelligence analysis to managing spy satellites...

Let me interject you can be sure everything that our intelligence entrepreneurs get their hands on stays secure- for the discriminating clients only.

"A lot of Halliburton's business depends on foreign customers getting loans from U.S. banks, which are in turn guaranteed by the government's trade-promoting Export-Import Bank. In the five years before Cheney took the helm, the Ex-Im Bank guaranteed $100 million in loans so foreign customers could buy Halliburton's services; during Cheney's five years as C.E.O., that figure jumped to $1.5 billion."

The intelligence community was a laggard, for obvious reasons. But following the attacks of Sept. 11, lawmakers were itching to pour tens of billions of new dollars into intelligence and didn't have the personnel to do it. Firms like CACI were simply at the right place at the right time. They had well-established revolving doors to the defense and intelligence communities -- the hawkish former undersecretary of state Richard Armitage once sat on CACI's board, and Barbara A McNamara, former deputy director of the NSA, continues to do so -- and they hired thousands of former intelligence officials at premium prices to fill a host of new contracts.

John Gannon, a former CIA deputy director for intelligence and now head of BAE Systems' Global Analysis Group, told journalist Sebastian Abbot that an intelligence contractor "is going to look at a government requirement, and it's going to go and find people wherever it can and get the greatest number of people at the lowest price and maximizing the profit to the business to do it." "When I was in government hiring people," he continued, "I was looking for the best possible people I could get ... [but] that is not what the private sector does." Gannon warned that these companies "are not looking to be right or looking to ensure that they are getting access to the best information and expertise; they are looking to please a customer at the lowest common denominator." It's as clear a case of ideology and cronyism trumping common sense as one could find.

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