medium | The US intelligence infrastructure is not just huge, it is colossal, a parallel societyliving among us (yes, us, wherever you live). That has been amply illustrated by the investigative journalism project Top Secret America. According to their research, there are 1200 government agencies, more than 3,666 private companies, 17,000 locations, and 854,000 people in the US that have Top Secret security clearance. Top Secret. None of the cables released by Wikileaks this week are Top Secret. Can you even imagine the amount of data here? This is what the US calls “information dominance” and a “global surveillance system”. Almost all IT and communication companies in the US are a part of the network, and they reach across the globe.
In 2007, 70% of all intelligence budgets were spent on private contractors. That was 3 years ago, and we don’t know how that has changed because all intelligence budgets are classified, but the trend since then has been a definite shift towards more private contractors. Obama likes to use the terms “american intelligence” and “american military” to play games with the truth (see “american troops pull out of Iraq”). If they are private contractors, they aren’t american intelligence, right? And there are other much more important reasons for private contractors, they are allowed to make huge donations to political parties from their billion tax dollar contracts.
Like the military contractors, the private companies also are not bound by government procedure, their contracts are classified so most of the government has no idea what they are doing, and they are private companies who do not have to disclose information to the public. They also have a classified bid system that makes corruption between private companies and politicians particularly easy. Again, like military contractors, they are not being used in secondary roles, they are used in training and in developing and operating all the high tech industries. They are paid with huge amounts of tax money, and in turn, are in a position to drastically influence governmental policies.
“Not only were private contractors involved in the extreme interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, they have taken over the training of military interrogators at the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. And in hotspots around the world, private contractors are taking the place of government operatives. In Pakistan, for example, three-quarters of the officers posted at the Islamabad CIA station since 9/11 have been private contractors. In the Baghdad CIA station, contractors have sometimes outnumbered government employees and have taken supervisory positions overseeing what CIA agents do every day.”