Employees of corporations are handling sensitive government responsibilities in the Intelligence Community, including analytical products that are incorporated into our nation’s most important and sensitive document, the President’s Daily Brief. Thanks to outsourcing, for-profit companies have the American president’s ear on a daily basis and their words carry the weight of the combined intelligence agencies of the United States. The possibilities for manipulating politics on a global scale are unprecedented and chilling.
The President’s Daily Brief is a summary and analysis of national security issues that requires the President’s immediate attention and that the National Intelligence Director presents to the President each morning.
Across the board, US government intelligence agencies are now highly dependent upon the staff of companies for critical national security functions. Corporate intelligence professionals from companies such as Lockheed, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC and others are thoroughly integrated into analytical divisions throughout the Intelligence Community, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which produces the final document of the President’s Daily Briefing, based upon analytical products created by the Intelligence Community. It would be hard to find an analytical product that does not have contractor involvement in some way, shape, or form. And it’s not just the products. Raw intelligence gathered by contractors also goes into the pipeline.
These analytical products from multiple agencies are sifted through, probably in part by contractors, and presented to the President every day as the US Government’s most accurate and most current assessment of priority national security issues. It’s true that the government pays for and signs off on the assessment, but much of the analysis and even some of the underlying intelligence gathering is corporate. Corporations have so penetrated the Intelligence Community that it’s impossible to distinguish their work from the government’s. Although the President’s Daily Brief has the seal of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, it is misleading. For full disclosure, the PDB really should look more like NASCAR with corporate logos plastered all over it.
Theoretically, if a corporation wanted to manipulate the national security agenda, it could introduce something into the system and no one would realize what’s happening, particularly since these companies have analysts and often intelligence collectors spread throughout the system. For argument’s sake, let’s say a company is frustrated with a government that’s hampering its business or business of one of its clients. Introducing and spinning intelligence on that government’s suspected collaboration with terrorists would quickly get the White House’s attention and could be used to shape national policy. To get us into the Iraq war, manipulation of intelligence regarding alleged weapons of mass destruction had to be very artfully done to short-circuit a formidable bureaucracy designed to prevent just such warping of intelligence. Due to the shift toward wide-scale industrial outsourcing in the Intelligence Community, that safeguard has been eroded.
Solutions are readily available. There’s really no need to move this service from the private sector back into government. The tools are already there in the private sector that could be applied, at least in concept, to monitor for any suspicious activity.
It’s a matter of leadership by the DNI.