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In Spies for Hire, investigative reporter Tim Shorrock lifts the veil off a major story the government doesn't want us to know about—the massive outsourcing of top-secret intelligence activities to private-sector contractors.
Running spy networks overseas. Tracking down terrorists in the Middle East. Interrogating enemy prisoners. Analyzing data from spy satellites and intercepted phone calls. All of these are vital intelligence tasks that have traditionally been performed by government officials accountable to Congress and the American people. But that is no longer the case.
Starting during the Clinton administration, when intelligence budgets were cut drastically and privatization of government services became national policy, and expanding dramatically in the wake of 9/11, when the CIA and other agencies were frantically looking to hire analysts and linguists, the intelligence community has been relying more and more on corporations to perform sensitive tasks heretofore considered to be exclusively the work of federal employees. This outsourcing of intelligence activities is now a $50 billion-a-year business that consumes up to 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget. And it's a business that the government has tried hard to keep under wraps.
Drawing on interviews with key players in the intelligence-industrial complex, contractors' annual reports and public filings with the government, and on-the-spot reporting from intelligence industry conferences and investor briefings, Spies for Hire provides the first behind-the-scenes look at this new way of spying. Shorrock shows how corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, CACI International, and IBM have become full partners with the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Pentagon in their most sensitive foreign and domestic operations. He explores how this partnership has led to wasteful spending and how it threatens to erode the privacy protections and congressional oversight that is so important to American democracy.
Shorrock exposes the kinds of spy work the private sector is doing, such as interrogating prisoners in Iraq, managing covert operations, and collaborating with the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans' overseas phone calls and e-mails. And he casts light on a "shadow intelligence community" made up of former top intelligence officials who are now employed by companies that do this spy work, such as former CIA directors George Tenet and James Woolsey. Shorrock also traces the rise of Michael McConnell from his days as head of the NSA, to being a top executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, to returning to government as the nation's chief spymaster.
From CIA covert actions to NSA eavesdropping, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, from the Pentagon's techno-driven war in Iraq to the coming global battles over information dominance and control of cyberspace, contractors are doing it all. Spies for Hire goes behind today's headlines to highlight how private corporations are aiding the growth of a new and frightening national surveillance state.
Running time 16 hrs