Regular readers already know the answer: it's the spies who bill. The CIA has been outsourced. I write in Sunday's Washington Post:
[T]he private spy industry has succeeded where no foreign government has: It has penetrated the CIA and is running the show.
Intelligence professionals tell me that more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service (NCS) -- the heart, brains and soul of the CIA -- has been outsourced to private firms such as Abraxas, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
Now it is nearly impossible to pin down the exact statistics of the extent of the penetration, precisely because CIA and ODNI leadership finds the numbers so damning and will go through great efforts to parse terms to keep the numbers down--doing things like throwing in the number of foreign agents run by case officers, under and over counting various groups--whatever it takes to keep those number below 50%. I tried to find the best way of phrasing this so it wouldn't get noodled., but after coming up with, "50% of the hours expended by non-agent human beings at the behest of the NCS" which probably couldn't be successfully parsed, I decided to let them to the silly gymnastics in response and go with the straight forward truth that over 50% of the National Clandestine Service has been outsourced to industrial contractors.
I also discuss the issue of contractors--green badgers--managing other contractors:
Intelligence insiders say that entire branches of the NCS have been outsourced to private industry. These branches are still managed by U.S. government employees ("blue badgers") who are accountable to the agency's chain of command. But beneath them, insiders say, is a supervisory structure that's controlled entirely by contractors; in some cases, green badgers are managing green badgers from other corporations.
Now this is another one where the Beltway linguist could attempt to split bureaucratic hairs. I'm sure some will argue that if there are two blue badgers in a twenty person branch, the "entire branch" isn't, technically speaking, outsourced. Others would argue that such a branch isn't outsourced at all because, by their definition, green badgers aren't part of a branch, only blue badgers are. When one or two blue badger oversees a green badger project manager who in turn is overseeing green badgers from his firm and/or other firms, I'd say that's farming out the whole branch.
I also discuss dangers to national security from outsourcing that are being glossed over through the DNI's censorship of the year-long study of industrial outsourcing in the Intelligence Community. This is pretty straight forward, so check it out in the article. I conclude:
The director of national intelligence has put our security at risk by classifying the study on outsourcing and keeping the truth about this inadequately planned and managed system out of the light. Much of what has been outsourced makes sense, but much of the structure doesn't, not for the longer term. It's time for the public and Congress to demand the study's release. More important, it's past time for the industry -- an industry conceived of and run by some of the best and brightest the CIA has ever produced -- to come up with the kind of innovative solutions it's legendary for, before the damage goes too deep.
For related posts, see:
Erratum: in a couple of places in the WP article, the term "agent(s)" was used incorrectly. In the first instance, it should have read "case officer," the second "spies." This change was introduced in the editorial process and was beyond my control.
And since it's the weekend and I'm headed to the East Coast to kick off a book tour, here's a relevant short passage from OUTSOURCED:
Camille opened one of the forged files and admired the quality workmanship. The more she thought about it, the more the call to the vet disturbed her. Last night she had been too drunk to have grasped the full picture, but it was starting to sink in and it scared her. It was the craftsmanship in the cover identity that was so upsetting. It took so many resources and such expertise to create and maintain a fictional paper trail like that. She only knew of a few instances in which the Agency had gone as far as issuing a quasi-personal spouse to backstop an alias in use overseas. And even then, they had done it only for particularly valuable aliases that they had used and developed over the years.
The Pentagon used aliases like disposable MRE wrappers, its operators longing for that
: Impossible moment when they could yank off the mask and reveal to the villain not only that he had been duped, but who had done it. Agency spooks were long-term players who were most satisfied when the bad guy died happy and ignorant, having been exploited by the same deception most of his life. The approach was the difference between checkers and chess, the Boy Scouts and the mafia. Deep down Hunter was an Eagle Scout, but whoever had crafted his cover was at heart a criminal conspirator. She saw invisible fingerprints all over it, but not from the CIA. The Agency didn’t create sophisticated aliases in-house anymore, but outsourced them to a boutique firm called Abraxas.
For those in DC, I will be doing a signing at the Pentagon this week from Wednesday on July 11, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The coordinates are:
Marine Corps Community Services
Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps National Capital Region Command,
1555 Southgate Road
Building 25, Keith Hall
Arlington, Virginia 22214
Wed., July 11, 11:00-13:00.