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For a couple of decades the numbers of private security contractors and private intelligence contractors handling matters related to the national security of the United States of America have been rising rapidly. The amount we currently rely on them has been the cause of worry for many people looking in from the outside. For those on the inside, it has been a relationship that has caused true public servants to be concerned, while those looking to eventually profit financially from either the private security industry, the private intelligence industry or both, have gleefully rubbed their hands together yearning to benefit personally from them. However, their personal enrichment has been putting us at greater and greater risk as a nation and has threatened the most sensitive areas of our nation's security.
Last week a story broke about US Navy Seals from the now famous team six being caught giving away information they shouldn't have as consultants for the new Medal of Honor video game in exchange for money. Jeremy Hsu of Tech News Daily writes, “Seven members of SEAL Team Six — the special operations unit famous for killing Osama Bin Laden — have been disciplined by the U.S. Navy for consulting on a new video game called 'Medal of Honor: Warfighter's without permission. […] Several SEALs discuss general tactics in a promotional YouTube video series for the game called 'SEAL Team 6 Combat Training Series,' but have disguised voices to protect their identities.
They also gave game developers a private demonstration of how to build a bomb and critiqued game details as small as the motions of reloading an assault rifle, according to a TechNewsDaily interview with game developers. […] Those examples may not count as highly classified information. But the U.S. Navy frowned on the fact that the SEALs "used classified material" during their consulting and "violated the unwritten code that SEALs are silent warriors who shun the spotlight," according to the breaking news story from CBS News posted yesterday (Nov. 9).” (http://www.technewsdaily.com/15413-seals-medal-honor-consulting.html)
The information was not so highly sensitive as to result in their losing their jobs or anything. But the fact remains, active duty Navy SEALs, a group of elite military servicemen that at one time in the history of the organization considered it a part of their code as members of that unit and of their service to the country to stay quiet about what they did, especially while on duty, gave away classified information for pay.
This may seem innocuous, but there was a time they would never do such a thing. This is a symptom of the spread and rapid growth of the private sector's foothold on our military and intelligence operations. They have always had some access in terms of the development of weapons, vehicles, planes and the like, but strategy, tactics and other information that could help those looking to do battle against our forces, was always kept quiet, and only people that needed to know within our government had access to it. Now, there are myriad private groups with no interest, outside of making money, that have access to our most sensitive and classified secrets. The repercussions are not just imagined, they are real and already happening.
Take for example the company Blackwater and their hiring of former US military and intelligence personnel. An article published in Harpers in 2006 states, “A number of senior CIA and Pentagon officials have taken top jobs at Blackwater, including firm vice chairman Cofer Black, who was the Bush Administration's top counterterrorism official at the time of the 9/11 attacks (and who famously said in 2002, 'There was before 9/11 and after 9/11. After 9/11, the gloves came off.') [...]
“Prince's visits [to the CIA] are probably one reason that the revolving door to Blackwater keeps turning. [In 2005], Rob Richer resigned from the post of Associate Deputy Director of Operations; he immediately took a job as Blackwater's Vice President of Intelligence. Richer is a former head of the CIA's Near East Division and long served in Amman, where, for a period beginning in 1999, he held the post of station chief. For years he was the agency's point man with Jordan's King Abdullah, with whom he developed an extraordinarily close relationship. 'There have been some ups and downs in our relationship with Jordan, but the king has always been on good terms with the CIA,' said a person familiar with the situation. 'The king's primary relationship is always with the CIA, not the American ambassador.'
“The CIA has lavishly subsidized Jordan's intelligence service, and has sent millions of dollars in recent years for intelligence training. After Richer retired, sources say, he helped Blackwater land a lucrative deal with the Jordanian government to provide the same sort of training offered by the CIA. Millions of dollars that the CIA 'invested' in Jordan walked out the door with Richer—if this were a movie, it would be a cross between Jerry Maguire and Syriana. 'People [at the agency] are pissed off,' said one source. 'Abdullah still speaks with Richer regularly and he thinks that's the same thing as talking to us. He thinks Richer is still the man.' Except in this case it's Richer, not his client, yelling 'show me the money.' (Richer did not return a phone call seeking comment.)” (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/09/sb-revolving-door-blackwater-1158094722)
It's so out of control and the hooks of private industry are sunk so deep into the haunches of our intelligence services that, “In a 2007 interview on the cable business network CNBC, Black was brought on as an analyst to discuss 'investing in Jordan.' At no point in the interview was Black identified as working for the Jordanian government. Total Intelligence [a division of Blackwater] was described as 'a corporate consulting firm that includes investment strategy,' while 'Ambassador Black' was introduced as 'a twenty-eight-year veteran of the CIA,' the 'top counterterror guy' and 'a key planner for the breathtakingly rapid victory of American forces that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan.' Black heaped lavish praise on Jordan and its monarchy. 'You have leadership, King Abdullah, His Majesty King Abdullah, who is certainly kind towards investors, very protective,' Black said.” (http://www.alternet.org/world/87200/) Cofer Black is not now, nor has he ever been a United States ambassador nor has he served as one for any other nation.
In 2010 then Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I wish I could find out how many contractors work for my own office, but I haven't been able to do so.” (http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/07/23/01) An article in the Washington Post writes, “To ensure that the country's most sensitive duties are carried out only by people loyal above all to the nation's interest, federal rules say contractors may not perform what are called 'inherently government functions.' But they do, all the time and in every intelligence and counterterrorism agency. […] What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. In interviews last week, both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns. [...]
“For too long, we've depended on contractors to do the operational work that ought to be done" by CIA employees, Panetta said. But replacing them "doesn't happen overnight. When you've been dependent on contractors for so long, you have to build that expertise over time." A second concern of Panetta's: contracting with corporations, whose responsibility "is to their shareholders, and that does present an inherent conflict.” (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/national-security-inc/)
An article published in the LA Times in 2006 discovered that, “At the CIA, poaching became such a problem that former Director Porter J. Goss had to warn several firms to stop recruiting employees in the agency cafeteria, according to former officials familiar with the matter. One recently retired case officer said he had been approached twice while in line for coffee.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/17/nation/na-contractors17)
Playing videos games is fun, including first person shooters – I like them myself. Whether you're shooting at fictional tough guys, putting them in headlocks, forcing them into faceplants, or being part of a surge, it passes the time, and can even stimulate the mind – depending on the game. But video games sold commercially aren't meant to be taken too seriously.
What the Navy SEALs did may have been a small issue, maybe not. It is, however, symptomatic of a new culture that has been allowed to become far insidiously too powerful. People work at the highest levels of our various intelligence institutions that have been allowed to perform the very same functions for foreign governments, and yet, no sensible public servant can see the dangers.
President Obama and Mitt Romney received huge political contributions over this past presidential campaign, along with many other elected politicians from the federal to the state to the municipal level, from defense contractors. Now they hold our national security secrets, and we have to pay them for it, while they simultaneously keep their other tentacles planted in the secrets of other nations.
The whole time, they have to keep their eye on the most important thing for any corporation – the shareholders – and thus the bottom line. We saw what that got us with the subprime housing crisis. How soon will it be before too many of our nation's most important secrets have sauntered out to door to defense and intelligence contractors with sub-prime mortgage bond trader mentalities, people that smirk at the word “traitor”? It wouldn't take that many for a wise and prepared enemy to have detailed maps of the holes in our defenses ready to act when the time was right. Neither Republicans have done a thing about it nor Democrats, and for reasons they consider pertinent – cash. What will eventually happen if things keep going the way they are, is as easy to predict as the 2012 presidential election was. Easy as A,B,C.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.