are we to assume that the only reason for them to go off-shore is to be able to conduct these operation on U.S. soil as well?
I started writing this response in the comments section, but it seemed like something that deserved a post of its own.
There are a lot of reasons to go offshore, taxes, liability and oversight--(think of Halliburton's recently announced move to Dubai). For a private military corporation and possibility a private intel corporation, there's the dimension of avoiding their services falling under ITAR (the US laws governing the export of military services) which would complicate and delay sales and very likely preclude some business all together. It's tough to make good on your promises to rapidly deploy to meet the security needs of a client anywhere in the world at the moment they need you when you have to wait on State Department paper-pushers to grant you an export license, assuming one would be granted
With the restrictions upon a domestic corporation, offshore entities would be free to conduct the kind of activities that Special Forces and spies do: destabilize governments, sabotage facilities, identify and train insurgents, etc.
To further answer BillW's question, an offshore entity has nothing to do with ability to operate on US soil. If an offshore corporation operates in the US it has to register as a foreign entity, a classification Greystone has, and its US operations have to abide by US law and I'm sure they do. The two other corporations discussed in yesterday's piece, Blackwater USA and Total Intelligence are US-based firms, legally operating in this country. Their operations have to conform to US law and there's absolutely no reason to believe they don't and that that intent of the management is anything other than to abide by US laws, though the interpretation of certain laws might at times get a little loose, that happens with most companies and it is just business, nothing sinister, (unless of course you're from the camp that believes all business is sinister.)
Now there was the issue of Blackwater boys running around the French Quarter with their M4s immediately after Katrina, but BW did quickly cobble together Department of Homeland Security and local state contracts. (And several new ones, including one from California.) And some of the guys I know who were in New Orleans did at least have licenses to bear arms in neighboring Texas...
Back to the topic, the export of military services, equipment and technology is highly regulated. The question is: do intelligence services, which have generally been considered civilian in this country, fall under the military services category and require State Department licensing? My read is they don't and it's clear that this Administration is not going to try to broadly interpret the law and include them. I doubt this is even intentional--it's such a new issue, it's probably not on anyone's radar at the moment. And it's a very gray area.
Now if I were Total Intel, I'd be positioning myself for the future for a possibly of a change in administrations and a more zealous State that might try to expand the definition to include their services. I'd create an offshore shell to route contracts through as needed and I'd want to make damn sure it couldn't be punctured by the US government-- as in disallowed as a foreign entity and suddenly finding its behavior subject to scrutiny under a host of US regs (and tax laws). The TI guys are very smart and I'm sure they're already taking these steps.
I'm not so sure Greystone, Ltd. has done this judiciously enough, although BW does seem to have excellent legal teams, but they really need an ex-Agency guy skilled at the creation of proprietary and devised facilities. Things like the use of the Moyock NC PO Box as Greystone's address on promo materials are potential red flags, depending upon how they've set things up. Personally, I'd be nervous and would consider setting up a new Greystone "affiliate" that never sees these shores. What happens offshore, should stay offshore. Or is that Vegas?
How do you best make sure you've set up an offshore companies correctly and you have done nothing to compromise it? Setting these things up used to be a specialty in the Agency and tough to find on the open market. (Granted, there are plenty of sleazy lawyers willing to help set up shells for tax evaders, but we're talking a very different level here.)
The solution is go pro. Rent a spy. These services are now available in the private sector. (Note to my Abraxas Corp friends: consulting opportunity--standard referral fee due.) And while we're talking referral fees, it seems ExxonMobil was very interested in yesterday's post about the "1001 Uses of a Mini CIA and Offshore SEAL Unit." So Total Intel and Greystone, any business arising from that, just send my usual fees to my Barbados affiliate, The Spy Who Referred Me, complete with its own Barbados bricks, mortar & steel drum address (Mail Boxes are Us, Man, pictured here) Or you can wire the fee to my Barbados checking account or work out an other arrangement with my local manager who wouldn't think of using my American address on promotional materials...