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About R J Hillhouse

  • Dr. Hillhouse has run Cuban rum between East and West Berlin, smuggled jewels from the Soviet Union and slipped through some of the world’s tightest borders. From Uzbekistan to Romania, she's been followed, held at gunpoint and interrogated. Foreign governments and others have pitched her for recruitment as a spy. (They failed.)

    A former professor and Fulbright fellow, Dr. Hillhouse earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan. Her latest novel, OUTSOURCED (Forge Books) is about the turf wars between the Pentagon and the CIA and the privatization of national security.

    Dr. Hillhouse is an expert on national security outsourcing. Her controversial work has twice elicited a formal response by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence--the only times that office has ever publicly responded to the writings of a private citizen.

    She is a regular media guest and available for interviews.

R J Hillhouse in the News

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  • "This gripping blog is filled with compelling posts on private intel corporations, mercenaries, the CIA, and the War on Terror."
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OUTSOURCED.

« UPDATED: Outsourcing Friday | Main | To The Spies Who Monitor Me: Security Issue »

June 16, 2007

Comments

Jack

very good article indeed
even though i'm not from the US i wonder how those things will impact the Presidential Elections, or rather if the public will learn of them in time

kelley b.

A surprisingly large fraction of the public is aware of this.

The main problem is the main$tream media is often owned by corporations that profit, indirectly or otherwise, from the current situation in Iraq.

I keep wondering when they'll bring their private security home to enforce their version of freedom- freedom to profit mercilessly- on the nation.

Suzanne

Excellent WaPo article. Do you think the addition of the OutSourced spotlight targeting the elephant is helping the MSM see whole beast? Perhaps one day soon, they will make the domestic connection - all they have to do is take a look at the Katrina response.

remf

Suzanne: The Katrina response does merit close observation--as well as some critical thinking. Here is a source to BEGIN that process, with much digging still needed to get beyond the soundbite fury that is all too common in PSC matters. www.psc-looking-glass.blogspot.com

Tyler

REMF- I really enjoyed reading through the posts on your site. Please keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more.

AndyC

Mmmm, I'm not so sure - comparing Clinton with contractors might make a nice quote, but it's disingenuous.

Clinton *chose* to have sex - he was the aggressor, the initiator, name your term. Contractors don't have that choice - we fight when forced to; someone else initiated the action to which we're responding and we're reacting to a situation, not initiating it.

It's similar in concept to a CCW permit-holder reacting to a criminal attack on the street, really (not that that difference matters to the hoplophobic anyway, I imagine...)

AndyC

Mmmm, I'm not so sure - comparing Clinton with contractors might make a nice quote, but it's disingenuous.

Clinton *chose* to have sex - he was the aggressor, the initiator, name your term. Contractors don't have that choice - we fight when forced to; someone else initiated the action to which we're responding and we're reacting to a situation, not initiating it.

It's similar in concept to a CCW permit-holder reacting to a criminal attack on the street, really (not that that difference matters to the hoplophobic anyway, I imagine...)

Retired

AndyC makes an interesting point, and a possible roadmap for the question of what happens to the PMC workforce when the war is over. PMCers are highly trained, motivated and skilled--and they go where the contracts are. A lot of early stage economic assistance and humanitarian relief takes place in locales where there are tough security issues. Historically, many of these efforts have been less than successful because of this.

But what if you dropped in PMCers to make sure that the job got done. Their track record, both within the military and as private sector employees, is one of considerable success. When a setback knocked them on their behinds, they adapted, improvised and overcame. If I'm plunking down billions in economic support or humanitarian relief, those are the guys that I may want making sure that it gets where it's supposed to.

Jack Monroe

Ms Hillhouse, Outsourced is a good book. I'm about halfway through your story. It resonates with authenticity (although the rumors of bin Laden's capture or death remain troublesome to the lay reader). I'm a Vietnam vet and I'm constantly surprised that there by the new generations of weapons and individuals carrying them. I had to look up the XM8 or whatever it is: very impressive - I want one.

Seems like women are increasingly taking a larger role in combat zones, somehow bypassing Congressional or national debate. With conventional war impractical, even obsolete, and borders, and perimeters, blurred, there is little choice. It a pleasure to see Ms Black take such a lead part in a conflict that remains murky, tragic, and downright weird to the rest of us here - the ones not called upon to make any sacrifices.

It would seem you have something a literary career ahead of you. Good luck and adios,

Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe

"PMCers." The drawback to employing them in humanitarian relief projects is that they are, or would be, essentially mercenaries. To be accepted in that role, particularly after Iraq, would require new laws, at least by the United States. And, I suspect, some waiver by the U.N.

These are highly trained and motivated individuals. And they are well paid. Better paid than in the military. I mean no disrespect to the individuals. But it's the military Congress has deemed to represent us in war and various other paramilitary actions.

The conflict in Iraq has not reflected well on the current Administration or their methods on relying upon contracted paramilitary units. After President Bush leaves office, private security companies, such as Blackwater, are going to lose much of their clout, and are liable to be among the first let go from their contractual obligations.

Jack Monroe

Blackwater is gearing up to build a training base in San Diego, near the border, not far from Tijuana. Presumably they will be training individuals to either supplement the Border Patrol or the homegrown militias that have spouted up over the past years dedicated to preventing illegals from entering this country. Or both.

Blackwater provided security in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Blackwater has an overly abundant and profitable contract in Iraq.

In the post traumatic period following 9/11 our government produced significant, costly, and unnecessary bureaucratic additions to our national landscape under the premise of national security, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, a new center of intelligence, and the detainee center at Guatanamo.

While these institutions may have been constructed with good intentions, the irony is that we already had a government in place to deal with the issues surrounding national security: the good old U.S.A. - complete with a Constitution, and more laws than one can count; armed forces, over a dozen intelligence organizations, and various Federal and state law enforcement agencies. Now we have Blackwater. And other paramilitary security contractors.

And it would behoove us greatly to define exactly what they are in terms of mission, legal responsibilities and boundaries, and loyalty.

The U.S. Armed Forces are pledge to defend our nation and support our Constitution. Can the same be said of the private security contract industry?


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Acknowledgements

  • A tip of the hat to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock who inspired the name of this blog with his path-breaking 2005 article, "The Spy Who Billed Me."

    Shorrock has a dedicated web page on outsourcing in intel. It links to many of his articles which are must-reads for anyone interested in the privatization of intelligence.