July 27, 2007

Outsourced by R. J. Hillhouse

According to DemocracyNow, "Author [and blogger] R.J. Hillhouse caused a stir in Washington last month when she revealed more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service has been outsourced to private firms." She did a back-calculation based on information in the public domain. In her own words:
It was actually the journalist Tim Shorrock who first found that PowerPoint presentation and the slide that showed the 70% [of the US Intelligence budget is allocated to private contractors]. My contribution to it was recognizing that because, based of the information in it and in a hidden table in the presentation, it was possible to reverse-engineer the national intelligence budget, which appears that we’re really spending about $60 billion on intelligence each year, and out of that, $42 billion is going to private corporations.

I ran across Hillhouse's blog, The Spy Who Billed Me, when she posted a piece about Blackwater USA sponsoring NASCAR. Her niche? The outsourcing of intelligence gathering, processing, analyzing and presentation to our leaders. The word "yikes" comes to mind.

I generally read non-fiction, but was enticed to buy her book when she said, in the interview on DemocracyNow:

I found that there were things that could only be written about in fiction. It’s amazing for someone who has lived in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to find that in this country we’re in a similar place. In the repressive regimes, literature has often played the role of bringing things to light that could not otherwise be discussed. And I found that there are some things that are going on in the intelligence community or things that are going on with our government with relationships between corporate and government that it was only safe to discuss under the guise of fiction.

So, what are those things? As I read the book, I noted things that might be either "classified" or "insightful" information that is being "leaked" by Hillhouse's book. The one thing that doesn't come out as a quote, but does so in her book, is that a lot of Americans are killing other Americans in a Wild East sort of way. It makes one wonder about the "friendly" fire death of Pat Tillman.

Insightful Information:

(Explaining why an operative had distanced himself) "Around that time a couple of my teammate's wives and kids had suspicious accidents. There was a lot of talk of families being targeted. I couldn't risk that happening to you too." (We know the US has used the threat of harm towards family members during interrogations).

"Please don't tell me you're spying for the Pentagon. Those guys learned their tradecraft from Get Smart - it's a known fact." (True sentiments among intelligence circles?)

"... it was the sweet scent of life on the edge, the smell of money, the perfume of Iraq." (True sentiments among private contractors in Iraq.)

"Black Management (a competing contractor) is muscling in on our turf and we need to kick ass and get out of there before they show." (Money-driving turf wars among private contractors undermining unity of mission? Not that there aren't inter-service rivalries in the military).

"The last thing he wanted to do was take down some goat herder's mud shanty by mistake like another Rubicon Team had done a few nights ago." (Bad intelligence leading to killing civilians by private contractors).

"Rubicon snarfed up table scraps without even doing background checks. More than once he had heard troops bragging about the criminal records they had left behind, including a South African who boasted he was a bona fide war criminal." (Private contractors hiring anyone to fill the positions).

"He leaned against the SUV and popped a couple of Motrin - Grunt candy."

Speaking of contractor Rubicon moving in on their turf... a plausible, and revealing, hypothesis is posed: "Rubicon Solutions was trying to woo the CIA for another major no-bid contract."

Discovering what appeared to be an under cover operative mixed in among the Iraqi resistance, "Hunter wasn't sure who he worked for, but Hunter guessed the Other Government Agency - the CIA. He wasn't going to blow the spook's cover, not even with Stella [his close associate].

Skirting political pressure not to deploy more troops to Iraq, the Pentagon quietly increased the number of boots on the ground with soldiers from private military corporations.

Other companies were there claiming to work for the State Department, even though everyone knew there were no diplomats in Anbar.

CIA funds were being dumped into Rubicon to run it, but he still couldn't tell if the money was because it was a covert Agency project or because another rogue CIA case officer was setting up lucrative retirement plans with corporate America.

"Eliminate him yourself. Jesus, you've got more hunters on the payroll here than we do. Tell the guy's family he died killing terrorists and let them collect the death benefits." (Can you say "Pat Tillman"?)

(continuing) "No one will think twice about it, let alone call for an investigation. The family will probably be happy not to have to deal with Rambo coming home and fighting a war at the local 7-Eleven. The guys who succeed over here make lousy civilians and families know that."

A variant on a 'snow ball's chance in hell,' "A goat in an Afghan mujahedin camp had a better chance of dying a virgin."

"After they screwed us at Haditha, I'm happy to keep those CID turds from nosing around my camp." (Reflection of some Army officer's views on the Army Investigation Division).

Referring to one way the CIA gets rid of unwanted operatives: "They would've fucked you good, left you alone, hanging in the cold on some mission, expecting an extraction that would never come. I've seen them do it to others."

"Come on. You know how the world works. If an Agency analyst betrays us, US courts try him for treason. If a case officer betrays us, we eliminate him."

"Oil here is a disaster. They're not back to prewar levels and if anyone tires to tell you they ar, they're lying."

The war had been good for business and the current drawdown of troops was a bonanza. Each soldier pulled out mean a vacuum that had to be filled. The Iraqis weren't up to the task and America was too deeply involved to roll over an allow room for al Qaeda to move in. Enter ... a list of private corporations.

Only families cared about dead contractors - Pentagon body counts didn't.

"Through most of the Bush administration, the CIA high command has been engaged in a bitter struggle with the Pentagon." CNN, September 27, 2004 as reported by Robert Novak

"This is a turf battle." said retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, former head of Middle Eastern affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency. "All of this represents that clandestine human intelligence in the Department of Defense is a growth industry and that it is no longer regarding itself as under the control of the CIA." Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2005, as reported by Mark Mazzetti, and Greg Miller.

Rubicon [a US contractor] was probably torturing him right now.

"The bottom line is we're all operating outside of Iraqi law, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn't apply to private security companies like us."

"The last thing we need is to pay for some creative legal work, set a precedent that somebody's law actually applies here in the Wild West and have it come back and bite us in the butt. Can you imagine the civil liability for property damage alone? [Our corporation] has taken out over five thousand insurgents and we all know the definition of an insurgent is pretty damn loose around here. It's more ore less anyone we take out. I don't even want to think about the wrongful death claims Iraqis could come after us with."

Head of a contractor speaking, "Sometimes I lie awake at night - you know Washington is a mercurial place. Sure, we're saving the president's ass in Iraq, but do you ever stop to think about what could happen if the other guys sweep in the next election?"

A contractor executive speaking to subordinates, "Tangos [insurgents] are sure busy tonight. Must've cashed another Saudi check. They always seem to shoot their wad on payday - I'm sure non of you can relate to that."

The contractor's spooks were coordinating with [another contractor], a British firm, to purchase signals intelligence on [a competitor contractor's] Iraq operations and they were also working with the American agencies, [contractor 4 and contractor 5], to see if they had any assets on the inside at [the competitor contractor] that could be purchased [turned].

The Agency didn't create sophisticated aliases in-house anymore, but outsourced them too a boutique firm called Abraxas.

"I know." "[the competitor contractor] has raked in over fifteen billion in Iraq contracts. That's a hell of a lot at staek, but you know, if peace breaks out and things settle down here, all that goes away. Maybe they're doing us all a big favor and making sure it doesn't."

In discussing the CIA's covert role, "Ah, if the Agency's no violating someone's human rights, they're not doing their job." (otherwise, someone else could do it overtly).

He [Bob Baer, former CIA case officer] says, "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear - never to see them again - you send them to Egypt."

"Try recruiting an agent when you can't go anywhere without have a platoon of security guards around you. Now if somehow you're lucky enough to snag one, you have to hand him off in a few weeks to some new guy fresh from Langley. And the agent's supposed to trust the stranger with his life. If I were an Iraqi, Id never spy for us. Splendid system."

"It was an Agency contract to take out one of their own before the KGB soften him up too much."

A French man responds to the quip, "I thought we were all friends." "We used to be. Then you started kidnapping innocent civilians and torturing them in your secret prisons. You start wars under the pretext of preventing Saddam from getting nuclear devices, even though you know he doesn't have them - because you manufactured the evidence. Now America and its corporations are addicted to the War on Terror like a user to heroin. Your president flouts your laws and constitution. And what do the American people do? They supersize another order of French fries."

Classified Information?:

"One of the Israelis who trained black units at Fort Bragg works for me out of Kandahar."

Ever since Rumsfeld had created Force Zulu [an intelligence and covert operations unit], a cold war had been raging between the two clandestine services [the other service being the CIA]. It wouldn't be the first time the CIA had sent someone to spy on a Zulu operator to make sure the Pentagon didn't beat them to any significant intel prize.

"You know I actually typed up a resignation letter the day I heard the President authorized Cambone and that born-again whack-job Boykin to round up a bunch of soldiers and start playing I Spy. I predicted this was going to happen - us tripping all over each other."

"Osama bin Ladin's Successor. I've been hearing a lot about that lately. So did some al Qaeda lieutenants finally catch on you've been holding the fucker for years and seize the opportunity to take over the network?"

passing reference.... "... when you and I were undercover after those suitcase nukes in Turkmenistan?"

The operative wasn't officially read into the project, but he know that the CIA and Pentagon immediately took joint control of al Qaeda, feeding its lieutenants with useless orders which rendered the organization ineffective.

"Even though Pakistan is our good friend in the fight on terror, as far as I'm concerned Pakistani intelligence is the most functional part of al Qaeda."

"Their fingers are in everything," she said. "Don't you know the [competitor contractor] story? While Dick Cheney left Halliburton to run for VP, some execs split off and formed [competitor contractor] Group. The government throws nobid contracts at them all the time."

Together with her operators, she had raided apartment buildings with sarin and VX chemical weapons labs.

They apparently wanted information from him [an American], so that meant he probably had a few day, if not weeks, to live, but that was only a guess. Rubicon had the means to make anyone disappear - hell, they did it under government contract all the time.

A contractor subordinate reporting to the executive: "Things were hopping today along the Syrian border. It started in Tal Afar, then spilled over into the Syrian side. The first Rumor I heard was they thought they had al-Zahrani, then some of our guys came back with conflicting reports they'd nailed a French spy in Syria."

Discussing secret prisons, "You know that Halliburton built it back when Cheney was running the outfit?"

Speaking of secret prisons... "The Poles and Romanians kicked them out. The Supreme Court ruling extending the Geneva Convention to detainees really mucked things up."

"Hold on. The Agency's been scrabling to come up with a new way to keep control over prisoners and interrogations. Word is they've privatized."

"Remember the President's speech about how the CIA was no longer in the business of black sites? He was telling the truth, more or less. The CIA isn't doing it anymore - [the competitor contractor] is."

"That's the beauty of outsourcing: you can do whatever the fuck you want. You don't need a presidential finding because you're not the SOB doing it - the contractor is. Things go south, the contractor went too far. And god only knows if any laws apply to them. Geneva Conventions sure as hell don't. So much for the Supreme Court ruling. It's a beautiful workaround."

A CIA case officer speaks: "Lets be clear. When it comes to stopping terrorists, we're allies - the War on Terror is where we have differences." (Get it?)

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