« "US military build-up in Kandahar will bolster Taliban, warns security monitor" Guardian | Main | "Clinton defends US strategy in Afghanistan" BBC »

19 July 2010

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

William R. Cumming

Will await full series before commenting.

Patrick Lang

WRC

Why? It won't get better. I want to hear Clapper talk about this tomorrow. This is a man who first thought the DNI should be stronger and lately thinks he should be weaker. My wife thinks he is working on the wording of his epitaph. pl

N M Salamon

If one were to follow the money, these almost 900 000 "intelligence employees" would cost at least 65 billion per year, but probably over 100B, counting support, offices, hardware and software and PROFIT. This funding will collapse to a large extent [though not fully] as the $ collapse for the Military Industriqal Congress Complex progresses.

If one follows the per capita energy available in the USA [at present falling fast], one realizes that there will be NO growth, but contraction in the coming years. Replacement will be harder, for energy availability will decrease!

Anyone who can point to anything done in the USA [or anywhere else] without energy INPUT will be the only one who can indicate growth - else it is spin!

FB Ali

Col Lang,

Forget about what Eisenhower said. Worry about this.

Eisenhower was referring to the party of 'perpetual war' (preparing for it, fighting it, and, of course, handsomely profiting from it). This octopus is a new member of that party, which still includes the old gang, but also other newcomers: the neocons, the Israeli lobby, maybe even Big Oil.

This new and growing security establishment is certainly a cause for worry, but the really big source remains this war party, and its hold on US policy-making.

Cold War Zoomie

I smell a bit of contractor bashing here. Uh, last I looked, contractors don't make policy. Contractors didn't decide to decimate the technical ranks of the government and leave nothing but program managers and contracting officers behind who spend their time trying to build little empires in order to gain that extra rank in the series to beef up their pension. You can't be a GS-15 in DC without enough people to make a branch, unless you are one of the rare "technical" 15s. And you definitely can't be an SES without enough branches to make a division or a directorate! So start beefing up those numbers! Hire some more program managers and then get some contractors to actually produce something more than weekly reports.

Believe it or not, lots of us contractors served in uniform at one time and think the government has gone way too far.

Blaming the contracting companies for being money-hungry business pukes is like blaming prostitutes for the John's who want to partake of the oldest profession's services. And, yes, I picked that analogy for a reason. Businesses exist to make money. The government has turned itself into a very lucrative "target market." Don't act all surprised when private industry is milking this cow as long as possible.

We get the government we elect. And I'm sure it all looked good on paper 15-20 years ago when the floodgates opened. That's how we "shrank" government, folks.

Patrick Lang

FB Ali

A rhetorical flourish on my part. pl

J

Colonel,

What I find both interesting and frustrating regarding the 'exposes' by the WaPo -- 'normally' the WaPo track-record has been repeatedly showing ahead of time to the NatSec parties that be their WaPo expose info ahead of their publications. Such undermines WaPo's credibility.

Meets the definition of 'censorship' wouldn't you agree?

Patrick Lang

J

In this case it is an expose. pl

Adam L Silverman

Sir,

What I find most interesting about these revelations is that this story has now broken, so to speak, at least three times since 9-11. The first time was back at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 when some contracting officer at DHS gave a presentation and the slides leaked out onto the Internet. The second time was when Jeremy Scahill, who wrote the book on Blackwater that is either loved or loathed (never met anyone in the middle on his reporting) started doing his reporting on contracting back in 2004 or 2005 - much of that went into the book. The third time was when Tim Shorrock's book "Spies for Hire" came out in 2008. So this makes #4.

I think I still have that DHS COR's slides saved somewhere. I'll look for them tomorrow and if I have them send them across to you in case you want to put them up.

The Twisted Genius

CWZ, you make a good point. This situation is not the fault of contractors. It is the fault of money/power driven bureaucrats in the government and the private national security industries. Of course, this crappy state of affairs is not limited to the the national security sphere. Here's a quote from Roland Dobbins, a well known and accomplished network security practitioner from Arbor Networks. He's complaining about the sad state of security in the networking industry.

"There's a great deal of opsec coordination and work which takes place in a sub rosa fashion, via individual actions, closed, vetted mitigation communities, ad hoc personal relationships, etc. In actuality, a very great deal of the useful opsec work that gets done is accomplished by folks who in some cases are going beyond their portfolios to do so, as their management, legal teams, PR/marketing teams, et. al. would actively forbid them to do this work, were they to know about it.

That's one of the reasons why a lot of people who make sweeping generalizations and recommendations about 'cyber-this' and 'cyber-that' tend not to have a good grasp of even the fundamentals - they aren't the folks who do the actual work, they don't know who does the actual work, and they often don't know anybody who knows somebody who actually does the actual work. They often don't even know that actual work is taking place, or what it entails, in the first place, because the actual work takes place out of the limelight."

This sounds a lot like Colonel Lang's "Bureaucrats versus Artists " doesn't it?

Charles I

I cannot understand why any Government, especially one supposedly married to the concept of free enterprise, would be in the liquor business.

Walrus, the answer is same as Pat's to J: The money's too good.

Same reason the war on drugs won't end either.

optimax

From wapo article:

"But improvements have been overtaken by volume at the ODNI, as the increased flow of intelligence data overwhelms the system's ability to analyze and use it. Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases. The same problem bedevils every other intelligence agency, none of which have enough analysts and translators for all this work."

Information overload. When government sees a threat, it expands and, since 9/11, restricts our rights and invades our privacy.
What a dumb beast it is.

Gautam Das

Col. Lang,

Nick Gowing on the BBC News last night (our time), commenting on the samw WaPo piece, wondered how, if 85,000 people were given 'Top Secret' security clearance, any secrets could be kept.

Gautam Das
India

Patrick Lang

GD

How British, uninformed and foolish, pl

Patrick Lang

charles 1

Why can you people not comment without descending to insult? pl

Walrus

CWZ:

"I smell a bit of contractor bashing here. Uh, last I looked, contractors don't make policy. Contractors didn't decide to decimate the technical ranks of the government and leave nothing but program managers and contracting officers behind who spend their time trying to build little empires in order to gain that extra rank in the series to beef up their pension. "

I'm afraid I strongly disagree about your characterisation of contractors and your suggestion that they are somehow helpless victims of scheming bureaucrats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Permit me to speak as a former "Contractor Manager" in the field of I.T. I was both a practitioner and a victim, with blood on my hands and scars on my back, let me tell you how it goes.....


Once you get a foot in the door via a small contract, your immediate goals are Twofold:

1) Expand your contract with add - ons and variations.

2) Lobotomise the organisation you are contracting to in order to make them totally dependent on you. You do this be removing anyone who has the intelligence and experience to contradict you, either by hiring them yourself or getting them fired or reassigned.

You do this primarily by multi level marketing where you put a partner in your firm next to every decision maker you can reach as far up and down the tree as you can go.

Your primary weapon for controlling a bureaucrat is fear for their career. Let me give you a few stock threatening phrases. These are best delivered one on one over Linguini Di Mare washed down with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc:

"I saw (insert name of your boss, bosses boss or Senator) at our box at the (tennis/opera/play /garden party/ football game/ presidential ball/ prestigious cocktail party) last night and I told him how well our project was going."

"I understand how important our project is to you. I can see from what happened with (insert evidence, name of disgraced bureaucrat) that failure of our project would not be good for your career."

"You are a remarkably perceptive chap and we could use someone of your calibre in our organisation."

" Col. Lang seems to be a critic of our project. It would be a pity if his uninformed comments were allowed to compromise our success."

But wait, there is more, and I predict you are going to see it in later parts of the WAPO article: blame transference takes place, and instead of blaming the contracting firms for being lying, rotten, corrupt, greedy, manipulative, disloyal, treasonous, lazy no good robbing little weasels, THE PAPER WILL BLAME THE GOVERNMENT FOR GIVING THEM THE CONTRACT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

I am not joking. I've had it done to me. IBM made an art form of this in the 1960's, and it will only be more refined and deadly today.

johnf

O/T.

I'd estimate that about 50% of "We are on the very edge of attacking Iran" stories originate from the Times of London. They're trailed by this Murdoch publication and then, with a high profile on the Web, spread to the States and the ROTW.

But Rupe, in his wisdom and skingflintiness, has just decreed the Times shall disappear behind a pay wall. Since no one is buying to read it, this means that its online prescence is virtually nil and no one round the world will be reading about imminent Iranian nuclear explosions.

William R. Cumming

PL! Is the story why Dennis Blair was fired?

DanM

Zoomie -- You clearly know what you're talking about. But major contractors are making policy now. Their lobbying and capture of legislators ensures the flow of money, "cost-plus" contracts and zero accountability when they're demonstrated to be corrupt/incompetent: (See: Black & Veatch et al and the Kabul diesel power plant).
It's precisely what Eisenhower warned us about.
I'm not a businessman myself, but the logic of the cost plus contract, which encourages waste and inneficiency, has always eluded me.

Patrick Lang

WRC

No. He was just a victim. pl

J

Anybody care to comment regarding the State Dept. and their Blackwater/Xe security contracts ongoing fiascos? Why doesn't the State Dept. simply expand their DSS section with 'government security' that way they won't be in a position to have to depend on 'outsourcing' to outfits and outfitters like the I'm-moving-to-Dubai Erik Prince former Blackwater founder/ceo.

In the end, government employees are pennies on the dollar expense compared to outsourced ever creeping up high-$$$ 'mercs'.

Colonel,

Wouldn't it be safe to paint Booze Allen as a 'Blackwater' of the Intel 'merc' crowd, or is it an overstatement?

John Minnerath

This is fearful stuff.
I liked walrus' point about the connections between the CiC and out County Sheriffs.
I live in a county of 9200 square miles with a population of around 36,000, mostly in 2 towns.Our Sheriff has a budget of $3.5M a year and it's hard now to know just how many deputies are on the force.
The Sheriff believes, with the support of the elected Commissioners, that we are subject to imminent invasion by all sorts bad guys.
A 5th column of jihadists, dangerous hispanic immigrants, wild eyed environmentalists.
The serve and protect idea has been replaced with suspect everyone.
My Dad who was born before the start of WWI and spent 30 years in the US Army observed to me 30 odd years ago of his fears of loss of our civil liberties due to what he saw as dangerously ignoring Eisenhower's warnings and more and more unfettered powers being allowed the police forces in the country. Along with a judiciary and legislators who just did not understand this concept of civil liberty the Country was founded on.
Last night the News Hour did a piece on the WAPO article; it was an eye opener.

Patrick Lang

J

BAH is firmly in the hands of the Ziocons. pl

Cynthia

J,

The primary reason why the intelligence community, whether it's employed to track down "enemies of the state" on either the domestic or foreign front, has become a breeding ground for waste, fraud and abuse is because intelligence agencies, unlike most other governmental agencies, are exempt from regulatory oversight on the ground that doing so would compromise national security. But the problem with this argument is that most of the time what the intelligence community does has little, if anything, to do with national security. This is why anytime whistle-blowers or journalists try to report any type of waste, fraud and abuse taking place in the intelligence community, they are accused of being "enemies of the state" and hauled off to jail without due process of law, which is a direct violation of our Fifth Amendment Rights. We must find some way to put a stop to this practice of allowing the intelligence community to hide behind an iron veil of state secrecy. And we must do this before our country devolves into a full-blown police state. This, I believe, gets to the heart of what the 'Sovietization' of America is all about.

William R. Cumming

John M.! Apparently the leading law enforcement issue is the filming of police officers during arrests? I think over 20 cases now exist where the police arrested the filmer! Will be of interest to see if "Free speech" or some other theory rescues those filming. Definitel a trend being closely followed by press and civil liberties groups. Hey those camera phones may get you into jail!

As to the bias against contractors, well pretty well documented that civil servants do NOT contribute to political campaigns. One reason so few get political appointments anymore. Those jobs are often for sale for $25,000 and up contribution. But contractors can be utilized to fill campaign coffers even sponsoring fundraisers through their DC lobbying fronts.

There are several things contractors are NOT paid to do. Guard the public interest and Constitution. Conduct R&D that is basic research and not applied. But don't worry the percentage of defense and other federal contracts being outsourced to South and East Asia through sub-tier contracts (almost completely unpoliced by DOD or the Executive Branch) will soon mean that those companies will if not already be fronted before Congress and the Executive Branch by skilled lobbyist under contract. This is the reason the decline of usefulness of FARA is such a tragedy.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28            
Blog powered by Typepad