Category: Espionage and Incompetence


A reader sent this in today. It is more on the changes that have been unfortunately occurring that have helped take down government services and oversight. I noted some time ago of the problem of government agencies/activities outsourcing their complaint (whistleblower and other) and grievance processes to non-governmental contractors, who have clerks who screen and “handle” complaints to hotlines or written complaints, making decisions about what will be passed upward to people who will possibly (read that only possibly) investigate the complaints. I thank the Old Navy Man for alerting me to this article, he also included for this post. GFS

G Florence:

Some of us told Clapper and the counter-to-intelligence community many years ago that bringing contractors into the process was a very bad idea. But the politicians and federal executives were more concerned with presenting the image of “downsizing” the federal government to the public. Secondarily, no one wanted to pay people for the expertise needed to keep intelligence and counterintelligence within the federal government. So now we’re all paying the price for that decision.

If the public only knew. The news media and the public need to take a close look at where the federal government has ‘hidden’ the federal government’s ramping up of intelligence and counterintelligence personnel. The feds have actually expanded the number of employees and agencies that are now in the collection business.

The Department of Defense has farmed out intelligence and counterintelligence billets to a number of government activities. Just one example, the Defense Security Service. The number of intel billets in the Defense Security Service has increased dramatically, and yet the Defense Security Service is not an intelligence or counterintelligence agency. But no one is asking why. So Stanley Sims (the director), with the blessing of James Clapper, is growing his federal business in counterintelligence and cyber collection.

But the same is true for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, etc., etc. And all these agencies have contractors and subcontractors.

So where has the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Oversight been all this time? That would be: Dianne Feinstein (California, Chair); Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia); Ron Wyden (Oregon); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Mark Udall (Colorado); Mark Warner (Virginia); Martin Heinrich (New Mexico); Angus King (Maine); Saxby Chambliss (Georgia, Vice Chair); Richard Burr (North Carolina); Jim Risch (Idaho); Dan Coats (Indiana); Marco Rubio (Florida); Susan Collins (Maine); and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma).

Apparently the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Oversight thinks everything is just fine.

The Old Navy Man

Growth of intel outsourcing no secret, but now Congress taking notice

By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News / June 15, 2013

A growing chorus on Capitol Hill is questioning whether U.S. intelligence agencies are farming out too much work to private contractors like Edward Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton systems analyst who has claimed credit leaking classified details about surveillance programs.

“Maybe we should bring some of that more in-house — with employees of the federal government, with the oath of office that we take to protect and defend our country and that seriousness of purpose there,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

In the days since Snowden professed to be the source of reports on secret surveillance programs, others in Congress have also expressed concern about the number of private employees who have access to sensitive information and suggested it will be the subject of hearings.

While the average American may have been surprised to learn a 29-year-old civilian could tap into secret government files while drawing a paycheck from a for-profit firm, there is nothing new or unusual about it.

Last year, 483,236 private contractors had top-secret security clearances, compared to 791,200 government employees, according to a report by the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Another 582,542 contractors had the less-stringent confidential security clearance, compared to 2.7 million government workers, the report said.

National Security Agency and CIA facilities have government employees with blue badges working side by side with contractors, known as green badges, performing similar work and reporting to the same boss at the site. Because intelligence contracts are classified, it’s difficult to nail down how much taxpayer money is going to firms like Booz Allen.

In his book, “Spies for Hire,” author Tim Shorrock reported that a DNI official told an industry conference in 2007 that 70% of intelligence spending went to private sources. Experts say it’s part of trend that began two decades ago when an intelligence community that shrunk after the Cold War needed to ramp up and looked outside for technology and bodies without increasing the government head count.

“The only reason we have contractors is because of a government that loves selling the myth of the smaller government,” said George Washington University law professor Steven Schooner, who specializes in government procurement law.

The amount of intelligence outsourcing skyrocketed after 9/11 as the budget and the demands for data collection and analysis and other services ballooned. Giant firms like Booz, SAIC and Northrup Grumman got big slices of the pie, but smaller firms also lined up.

Richard “Hollis” Helms, who worked on counter-terrorism for the CIA for 30 years, started a company called Abraxas after retirement with $5,000. Four years after 9/11, it had 225 employees, many of them government retirees. In 2010, it was sold for $124 million.

The benefits of such outsourcing were being debated well before the time when Snowden says he copied files at his office in Hawaii, fled to Hong Kong and leaked the information to reporters.

One 2008 congressional report cautioned that the annual cost of a private employee can be double the cost of a government worker, though others note the feds can avoid pensions and other legacy costs on the back end with contracts.

Contracts are also a way to get retired agency workers with crucial experience back on the job. And using private companies allows the government to surge on manpower in times of crisis without adding permanent employees who may be not be needed in the long run.

“If I’m the government, I can hire this database administration contractor because I have the money right now…and if I don’t have the money in a couple of years, I can just cut the contract,” said Charles Faddis, a retired CIA operations officer who is now a consultant who does work for the government.

In the wake of Snowden’s actions, the financial worries are taking a back seat to security concerns.

While contractors and government workers go through the same process for security clearances, Snowden’s ability to cull and share information about secret programs raises the question of how private companies vet and monitor their hires. Faddis said the explosion in information technology that drove the hiring of Snowden and his ilk also means they have access to such a tremendous amount of data that a single breach could make Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers look like a post-it note.

“Then you have the post-9/11 focus on sharing information and breaking down stovepipes,” he said. “I agree with that but we have gone in typical Washington fashion so much farther that you now have throughout the government all sorts of people at very junior levels who have access to intelligence of staggering quantities.”

There are vague calls for a clampdown. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said Thursday the public can expect “legislation which will limit or prevent contractors from handling highly classified technical data.

” The government, of course, is not leak-proof. Snowden, a onetime Army recruit, says he had worked directly for the CIA before Booz Allen and other private firms, and Bradley Manning wore an Army uniform.

“There is no empirical evidence that contractors are better or worse than people in the military or the government,” Schooner said.

But William Arkin, who has written extensively on intelligence outsourcing, told NBC “Nightly News” that some of the contractors are different from government employees.

“They’re not motivated necessarily by patriotism. They’re not motivated necessarily by a scar of 9/11. This is a job,” he said.

It’s unclear whether there will be more or fewer of those jobs when the smoke clears from the Snowden case.

Many of the big multibillion-dollar contracting corporations have lobbyists. Some of their top executives worked for the CIA or NSA and retain close ties to the intelligence agencies. The concept of a smaller government is still prized by politicians, and the demand for intelligence services is not waning.

“The train has left the station on outsourcing,” said Schooner. “Do we think Congress will appropriate to hire tens of thousands of employees for pick-your agency? It’s not going to happen.”

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/15/18940842-growth-of-intel-outsourcing-no-secret-but-now-congress-taking-notice?lite&ocid=msnhp&pos=1

I hope all of you are keeping track of all that has suddenly exploded into the media. It rather is too little too late, but if someone will finally prosecute the wrongdoers, we may make some progress.  (Read that Eric Holder must go and someone who will carry out clean investigations and prosecutions must be put in his place.)  A broken Justice Department is a big part of the problem.  The dog no longer has teeth to  bite, nor a will to do so.  And, it is apparent that the amount of collusion and corruption surrounding contracting, incompetence of federal oversight management, and collusion and corruption shared between certain contractors and some federal government management and some politicians have only gotten worse and the problems deeper.  Cronyism, nepotism, and the notorious revolving doors between government and industry continue to run amock and no one is making any effort to stop any of this, or even apply the regulations and laws we currently have.  It is all broken, or as one of my sources reported, “FUBAR.” 

The recent  reporting of alleged Chinese Hackers “stealing all of these secrets and advanced technology,”  (from the listed items in the report referenced below), appear to me to be an ever escalating attempt to cover up the real culprits and those truly responsible for the losses.  Corruption,greed-driven corruption that the guilty parties in the defense contractor(s) and within the federal government (including Pentagon) have tried so desperately to cover up at each level and every step of the whistleblower’s report.   I can only hope that if the media will keep up the pressure, talk with the whistleblowers, and continue to pressure for real investigation and prosecution of those truly responsible for lost technology, and all of you continue to stand up and demand justice, we may eventually prevail. 

I have posted information about the infamous James Clapper previously.  He is but one cog in the machine, as the corruption appears to spread far and wide both within government agencies and activities, as well as in government defense contractors.  One of the whistleblowers that I am aware of currently has a federal investigation in progress that has been stalled every step of the way by those involved in a coverup of one of the compromises of technology listed in the report below.  Consider that the culprits who actually have committed the crimes and possible treasonous activities, as well as those who compromised themselves helping to cover-up said crimes,  are desperately trying (to the detriment of all of us), to find a way to blame something or someone else for the losses and the criminal actions.  It is the last overblown act by very desperate criminals to evade identification and prosecution. 

They have continued to try to derail investigations, lie to government investigators and Congress, interfere in the legal processes related to whistleblower complaints, derail the carrying out of prosecution of wrongdoing and more.   They have savagely attacked those who have tried to stand up to them.  Careers have been destroyed,personal lives devastated, and responsible federal and in some cases corporate employees harassed, undermined and targeted.  Would that the nefarious surveillance of phone, email , and other communication work the other way, so we could all see how plots are hatched and planned.  It does appear the miscreants  reached an apparently well-coordinated new level of outrage, ingeniously blaming Chinese Hackers for loss of the tech on the list, when the true miscreants are right here in the halls of the Pentagon, the offices of DOD agencies and activities and in the CEO and manager’s enclaves within the Defense Contractors unfortunately entrusted with handling our most sensitive and advanced technologies. 

No doubt Chinese Hackers are annoying and damaging liabilities, as Hackers from anywhere (including the US) may be, but the true causes and those who bring about the losses of technology that have so badly devastated both our real National Security positioning, and our economic security, are very much closer to home.  I maintain that they walk among us, and if allowed, will continue on with their corrupt and criminal activities to the detriment of real national security, economic, and otherwise. 

Here is something that one of my readers sent today.  I have written about several whistleblowers previously.  This may well be a followup on one of them.  -GFS

G Florence:

If you haven’t already read David Sirota’s excellent article “James Clapper Must Go,” please do so.  I realize that you have posted about the problems with James Clapper before.  I believe you will be interested in this.   I have a good friend and former coworker who served as a Special Agent for the Department of Defense. My friend is a scientist and was recruited into the Department of Defense because of their expertise in Advanced Technology compartmented research and development. Some years ago now, my friend found that a large aerospace defense contractor was intentionally and illegally handling Advanced Technology in their programs throughout the company. The company’s illegal handling of Advanced Technology lead to the loss of irreplaceable compartmented technology. My friend’s federal investigation of the incident was covered up by their agency and at the highest levels inside the Pentagon. And with the consent of James Clapper, my friend was harassed and psychologically tortured by their agency’s management. My friend was frankly, forced out of federal service.

Recently it became public through the release of the Defense Science Board report “Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat” that the Department of Defense is trying to blame that advanced technology loss on “the cyber threat.” The report is interesting in that it references a table (2.2) that is not present in the unclassified version of the report. One of the listings on table 2.2 is the compartmented program department and the technology that my friend investigated the loss of. That loss was not from cyber collection. The loss was from the intentional and illegal mishandling of the Advanced Technology by the aerospace defense contractor. How many more cases like this has James Clapper participated in?

The Old Navy Man

Here is the article that the Old Navy Man referenced:

http://billmoyers.com/2013/06/12/james-clapper-must-go/

I read an interesting article recently regarding how federal agencies have been trying to deal with their overly backlogged Freedom of Information Act requests for information that have apparently been piling up since the 2009 change in Federal direction about granting such requests. 

According to the article by Joseph Marks, in Nextgov, August 31, 2012, about half the agencies have actually reduced the number of FOIA exemptions (information they refused to release formerly, under the premise that such information is exempt to FOIA requests). 

The article also talks about agencies using technology to improve processing time for FOIA requests and the use of the FOIA libraries to post information that might commonly be requested via FOIA requests. 

It seems to this observer that if the Obama administration truly wishes to increase transparency, that more transparent action taken toward prosecuting the many cases of wrongdoing and criminal activity in the realm of federal defense contracting needs to take center stage.  Corruption, influence pedaling, cronyism, fraud, technology theft, use of the “revolving door” by people between industry and the federal government (and vice versa) in order to better serve the needs of the corporations they serve, must be stopped cold in order to allow the oversight that supposedly is in place now to be able to actually function and prevent such atrocities.  The Administration must see that a general clean up is put swiftly into action, and mean it so that these issues are handled first for any genuine transparency in FOIA request handling to be a reality. 

As long as intensive efforts within corporations and their government confederates go into covering up corruption, theft, and fraud within the federal defense contracting world, and wrongdoers that are occasionally exposed, usually by federal employees trying to do their oversight jobs, the status quo, cover-ups and sudden retirements of culpable individuals and use by such of convenient revolving doors will continue to provide sufficient threat of exposure to thwart any serious transparency granted to a FOIA request hopeful, preventing s/he from every getting an honest and “transparent” accounting of what is really going on in federal agencies, particularly in relationship to defense contractors and other corporate interests. 

This article describes a tempest in a teapot, and does not address the real problems related to FOIA requests not being honored by those trying to get to the truth of wrongdoing in the federal government. 

GFS

Link to article:  http://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2012/08/agencies-continue-struggle-foia-requests/57819/

Old Navy Man,

Thanks for the information.  I appreciate you supporting this blog.  That is quite disturbing indeed.   I am posting this to see if anyone else can elaborate or comment.  GFS

G Florence:

Here is a link to a story that emphasizes why it is so important for this country to be ferociously protecting our most advanced technology.

 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/08/19/Reports-of-Russian-sub-in-gulf-downplayed/UPI-35751345390615/

Who remembers the sale and transfer of advanced navy quieting technology to Toshiba?  Because of that poorly informed sale this country lost some of our most advanced navy quieting technology.  Remember those countries where these most advanced navy technologies ended up?  Refresh your memories!  This article just came out today, through the United Press International.  It is a U.S. News article entitled “Reports of Russian sub in gulf downplayed.”  This is what happens when we do not let good men like Mr. Conley and Mr. Kelly do their jobs.  This is what happens when the people of this country are complacent and do not support the tireless efforts of patriotic Americans like Mr. Conley and Mr. Kelly.

Shame on us!

An Old Navy Man