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  • 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.

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« To My Regular Readers | Main | Blackwater: So How Black are the Waters? »

September 28, 2007


Bill W

From the spot report "Estimated 8-10 persons fired from multiple nearby locations, with some aggressors dressed in civilian apparel and others in Iraqi police uniforms."

This gives me cause for concern. The underlying implications and complications are scary.


So TST 22 went to assist TST 23 with their principal still in tow?


Permit me some questions.

Does Blackwater (or any other military company) have cameras on their vehicles to view incidents of this nature to examine and determine after the fact?

Is there an agency that examines and addresses criticisms or concerns from the public regarding these type military organizations?

R J Hillhouse

Bill W.--It's a very common tactic for insurgents to dress as civilians and to mingle among civilians, using them as shields to confuse an attack and get the civilians killed in the process, which is then used as a propaganda tool.

Somehow the press seems to miss this one when writing about these engagements. This is a common tactic in Iraq as it has long been with Hezbollah and I strongly suspect that's what went on here. In this scenario, the weapons of fallen insurgents are quickly removed by their comrades, so that they appear as fallen civilians.

It's also not uncommon for US forces, including private security, to take fire from people dressed in Iraqi police uniforms. It's not clear whether these are insurgents wearing police uniforms, insurgents within the police, etc.

Wem--I believe from the report that the principal was not at the site of the shooting, but had already been returned to the IZ by TST 22. From this report, it does appear that there were no diplomats as witnesses, which is too bad for the BW guys.

Anon--I have no idea if they have cameras on their vehicles, though I would speculate they don't. Unless it were filming in 360, it would only catch a small sliver of what's going on and this would be open to misinterpretation.

As far as concerns of the public, there is no agency to which to address them, but they would have to be routed through elected representatives.

I know we have several readers of this blog who have been in similar situations where life and death decisions were in the mili-seconds and in the midst of chaos. Perhaps they'll weigh in...



Scott K.

To Bill,

It's not clear from the report, but I think that PSD Team 4 stayed with the principal in the Green Zone when TST 22 went back out.

Bill W

Scott K. That was actually wem that asked about the principal.

Did anyone see the Military channel episode of Future Weapons that focused on Blackwater? I missed it but was told by a friend about it. I just wanted to see if anyone got to catch the program and what they were talking about.

zz ziled

GAP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

It isn't all ABOUT BLACKWATER USA today or even the upcoming DOD Halloween Party Dr. Hillhouse; "the Party story" of this Year is though again at WaPo.

The scoop is from last year's DOD Air Force Procurement Government-Contractor Christmas Party Mixer and the story was DOD gapping needs!

So put a LAMPSHADE on your head and come on down to catch the wave and see the fun...

Which is surely coming this week!


Air Force Arranged No-Work Contract
Experts Question Official's Deal With Nonprofit

By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 1, 2007; Page A01
"While waiting to be confirmed by the White House for a top civilian post at the Air Force last year, Charles D. Riechers was out of work and wanted a paycheck. So the Air Force helped arrange a job through an intelligence contractor that required him to do no work for the company, according to documents and interviews."

Here are some highlights of the Post Christmas Party Affair:

"I really didn't do anything for CRI," said Riechers, now principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition. "I got a paycheck from them."

"Riechers said in an interview that his interactions with Commonwealth Research were limited largely to a Christmas party, where he said he met company officials for the first time."

"Riechers was paid a total of $26,788 as part of the contract to provide research to the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies."

"In a statement, Riechers said he had no problem accepting the pay because Commonwealth Research is a nonprofit organization "that had an established relationship" with the military service."

"Riechers said he has not made any decisions relating to Commonwealth Research contracts since his appointment."

"We needed some way to kind of gap me," Riechers said about the temporary job."

"The Air Force defended the arrangement, saying Riechers was well qualified to perform the work."

"Assistant Secretary Payton said in a statement that the Air Force needed someone who could meet "a unique set of requirements." He is now responsible for research, development and modernization programs at the Air Force worth more than $30 billion a year, according to his biography.

"The Air Force needs his skills, and we need him as the principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition as we continue to acquire the next generation of weapon systems in a transparent and impartial manner," Payton said."

"Concurrent and its subsidiaries receive grants and contracts for an eclectic variety of other activities, including support of faith-based initiatives and specialized welding work."

"Commonwealth Research and its parent company, Concurrent Technologies, are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt charities, even though their primary work is for the Pentagon and other government agencies."

"Last year, Commonwealth Research got a $45 million sole-source arrangement to provide reports to the National Security Agency, CIA and other intelligence agencies."

Full story at the Source:

And many of the Blogger Comments are worth reading too...

And here is what POGO has to say--;there are great embedded links to Sunlight Labs there:

Air Force No-Work Contract

Something's shady about a non-profit in Pennsylvania and its relationship with the Pentagon, The Washington Post's Robert O'Harrow discovers in a front page article today. An intelligence contractor as well as non-profit, Commonwealth Research Institute, one of several subsidiaries of Concurrent Technologies Corporation, hired Charles D. Riechers as a "senior technical advisor" while Riechers was out of work and awaiting confirmation to become a senior Air Force acquisition official. According to O'Harrow, Riechers' job at Commonwealth did not require him to do any work for the company, instead he worked for Sue C. Payton, assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition.

Commonwealth Research's president, Frank W. Cooper "acknowledged that he hired Riechers at the request of the Air Force. Cooper said he did not know precisely what Riechers did for the government, saying he did not ask because he assumed such information was available only on a 'need-to-know' basis," O'Harrow wrote.

It seems that the Air Force simply backdoored Riechers into either his current job or some other kind of position by using Commonwealth while he waited for confirmation. Experts say this deal doesn't wash:

Specialists in federal contracting law said Commonwealth Research's arrangement with Riechers may have violated regulations governing how the Air Force is permitted to hire and use contractors, including a prohibition on certain uses of consultants to augment the federal workforce. The prohibition is designed in part to ensure that employees in sensitive government jobs serve the public and not corporate or other outside interests.

This company is getting big, fast. For example, just "[l]ast year, Commonwealth Research got a $45 million sole-source arrangement to provide reports to the National Security Agency, CIA and other intelligence agencies." Remember MZM Inc.? That was another company that blew up in size with intelligence contracts, a fast growing part of the budget. Another similarity? Both companies had as their umbilical cords a relationship with a powerful member of Congress sitting on an appropriations committee. MZM had its Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), Commonwealth Research and its parent company Concurrent Technologies has Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), chair of the House defense appropriations subcommittee. Concurrent Technologies is among the largest recipients of congressional earmarks.

Also, besides operating behind a veil of secrecy, Commonwealth Research and Concurrent Technologies get to evade one of the only two sure things most of us can expect in life:

Commonwealth Research and its parent company, Concurrent Technologies, are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt charities, even though their primary work is for the Pentagon and other government agencies. In a recent report Concurrent, also based in Johnstown, Pa., said it was among the Defense Department's top 200 contractors, with a focus on intelligence, surveillance, force readiness and advanced materials.

-- Nick Schwellenbach
WAPO rmb99 Blogger wrote:

The Reichers Affair is a Perfect Storm: the intersection of government of, by, and for the corporation with the best legislature can buy. This corrupt individual (Reichers), headed for a job in a corrupt organization (Air Force procurement), was paid for a no-work job by a tax-exempt corporation whose top executives “earn” an average of $462,000 a year.
And here is what inquiring mind WAPO Blogger rmb99 wrote:

Will we see ANY of the following actions:


• Will he be immediately fired?
• Will he immediately repay the $26,000+ he received for the no-work job?
• Will he be indicted?
• Will he be convicted?
• Will he go to prison?

Commonwealth Research and Concurrent Technologies

• Will the CEOs be fired? Indicted?
• Will the other executives who connived in this no-work job be fired? Indicted?
• Will the tax-exempt status be revoked?
• Will they, and all affiliated companies, be barred from government contracts for, say, two years?
• Will there a credible investigation of the type of “specialized work” performed by interns under this open contract order?

Air Force Procurement

• Will Secretary of Defense Gates fire the Secretary of the Air Force?
• Will Assistant Secretary Payton be fired? Indicted?
• Will other officials who connived in the no-work job be fired? Indicted?
• Will there be a credible investigation of the contracting officer(s) responsible for supervising the contract that paid for the no-work job?
• Will there be a credible review of the contracts awarded to the no-work firms, including interviews of those firms who lost in competitive bids?


• Will there be an investigation of the procedures for granting and supervising tax-exempt status?
• Will there be legislation to restrict the types of work tax-exempts may do?
• Will there be legislation to deny tax-exempt status to any organization which provides to any executive total compensation (including benefits and perks) which exceeds the salary of a member of Congress?


• Will there be any realistic effort in the Congress to end earmarks?
• Will there be any action against Congressman Murtha, for whom this case is one in a long, long list of earmark abuses?

10/1/2007 2:26:31 PM


Dr. Hillhouse,
I'm confused. I thought through much that you have written, that you believed Blackwater was a respectable organization. Now I read that the owner of Blackwater is a 37 year old who started the business 10 years ago, is a extreme conservative religious person who hasn't been in government for over 10 years. Is this information wrong? I thought this was a career professional (cia) who respected the Constitution. Where is the disconnect? Did he work for the CIA at 10?

R J Hillhouse

I've stated several times that Blackwater is one of the most professional of the private military corporations. If I had to choose security for myself in a hot zone, I'd want them, Triple Canopy or a third firm that does a lot of Agency work, but whose name has yet to appear in the press.

I believe Mr. Prince is a conservative Catholic who was a SEAL with no intel background.



During a search on Haliburton, I linked to Kellog Brown & Root and during a overview I ran across a link to Blackwater. This was several years ago, now I cannot find anything further. Has anyone seen or heard of this?

R J Hillhouse

BW has done work as a subcontractor (or actually more like a sub subcontractor) for Halliburton. The 4 guys in Fallujah were part of that contract.



The Riechers affair is all BS. O'Harrow can't even make sense in the artilce. DoD lets contracts for professional services all the time. By using an existing contract that matched Riechers technical skills, the taxpayer actually saved money. Also, by performing the contracted service for the AirForce, of course he didn't work directly for CRI. You bloggers need to get a job.

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  • 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.