Spy Agencies Outsourcing to Fill Key Jobs
Contractors, many of them former employees, are doing sensitive work, such as handling agents. A review of the practice has been ordered.
By Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer
September 17, 2006
WASHINGTON — At the National Counterterrorism Center — the agency created two years ago to prevent another attack like Sept. 11 — more than half of the employees are not U.S. government analysts or terrorism experts. Instead, they are outside contractors.
At CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., senior officials say it is routine for career officers to look around the table during meetings on secret operations and be surrounded by so-called green-badgers — nonagency employees who carry special-colored IDs.
Some of the work being outsourced is extremely sensitive. Abraxas Corp., a private company in McLean, Va., founded by a group of CIA veterans, devises "covers," or false identities, for an elite group of overseas case officers, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the arrangement.
Contractors also are turning up in increasing numbers in clandestine facilities around the world. At the CIA station in Islamabad, Pakistan, as many as three-quarters of those on hand since the Sept. 11 attacks have been contractors. In Baghdad, site of the agency's largest overseas presence, contractors have at times outnumbered full-time CIA employees, according to officials who have held senior positions in the station.
The post-9/11 period has brought sweeping changes to the U.S. intelligence community. Spy budgets have swelled by more than $10 billion a year, and agencies have seen their roles and authorities altered by legislation.
Largely because of the demands of the war on terrorism and the drawn-out conflict in Iraq, U.S. spy agencies have turned to unprecedented numbers of outside contractors to perform jobs once the domain of government-employed analysts and secret agents.
The proliferation of contractors has outstripped the intelligence community's ability to keep track of them.
Former intelligence officials said most U.S. spy agencies did not have even approximate counts of the numbers of contractors they were employing — although several officials said the number at the CIA had nearly doubled in the last five years and now surpassed the full-time workforce of about 17,500. Often, the contract employees had previous ties to the agencies.
Concerned by the lack of data and direction, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte this year ordered a comprehensive study of the use of contractors...
The study, of course, got subcontracted to Dubai Ports in the UAE (just kidding. i hope!).
Mercenary spies. An idea so stupid, it had to originate in Bu$hCo.