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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.

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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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« The Blackwater February 7th Shooting Explored | Main | Triple Canopy for Sale? »

November 11, 2007


Jeffrey Carr

Thanks for posting that memo. We rarely get that kind of coverage from the MSM.

Earlier in your post you pointed out how 9/11 inspired so many people to get involved in military or intelligence service, both public and private. Perhaps you recall a book that came out in 2006, "Class 11: Inside the CIA's First Post 9/11 Spy Class" by T.J. Power. It was an inspiring and informative book, but even more revealing is that the author left the CIA to become a contractor. He couldn't afford to stay on as a Blue Badge.

While the trend towards outsourcing has its problems, it's still the only way that a lot of well-intentioned and patriotic people can afford to do the kind of work that they want to do, and that we need them to do.

Red Sinclair.

These "reports" are obviously blackwater after action reports. I question the veracity of some of the claims. Blackwater has proved to be self serving in the past and I have no reason to believe they don't sugar coat their paperwork, as they have no oversight. Not even from stockholders (privately held company). The military is held accountable through US laws, the UCMJ, and hundreds of years of warfare tradition codified in the Geneva convention, and the conventions on land warfare etc. Blackwater is held accountable by it's bottom line. Black instead of Red is what BW is all about.


Dr Hillhouse, thank you. I have served in the military, in the CIA, and now, being limited by age, help out with certain private sector efforts. My motives have remained the same throughout all three incarnations.

While with CIA, I had the decidedly awkward task of helping a valued officer sort through his personal finances. He was the type who took care of the mission first and left personal considerations to what little time (if any) might be left over.

The inescapable conclusion was that he couldn't remain a blue badger because of his financial obligations to an extended family that had much more than its share of medical hardship. He ended up resigning and joining a private sector firm.

I have just heard that he has now joined an intelligence contractor, brought back into "the business" at a compensation level that will enable him to support his family properly. I'm sure that there are those who don't know him or his situation who would classify him as a "war profiteer" or worse. I regard him as a patriot who, because of the contracting option, can now bring his talents to bear against those who threaten us.


Dr. Hillhouse,

While I have generally enjoyed reading your comments and understand you mean well, I have to say that I was offended by the comparison you made.

The 442nd and 100th battalion service during WWII is without question one of distinction and honor especially in the midst of the racial prejudice prevalent during the period. They were dedicated and selfless citzens who were trailblazers in the military and in society. There simply is no comparison between this group of citizens to the varied group that is now working the contracting community. No comparison whatsoever.

I see the point you were attempting to make and agree that we as a nation need to come to terms with the service provided by the contractors. I just object to the unnecessary comparison.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

 R J Hillhouse

Dear Offended,

There was nothing contrived about that post. I had actually been cursing the parade since it seemed to block me every route I tried to get to the market on Saturday. I didn't realize it was the Veteran's Day parade until I was at the market and watched the 442nd vets drive by. And since I spend far too much time thinking about contracting issues, I did start wondering what the parade would be like in ten or twenty years after even more of our conflicts were outsourced.

I wrote that there seems to be "fragments of similarity between the two." The two are very different, more different than similar, yet there is some uncomfortable shred of commonality.

There is no slight in any way intended to the 442nd (or One-Puka-Puka.) They have my greatest respect.

And thank you for commenting.


Ben Gardella

I love your blog, RJH. Very informative, especially for someone like myself with no military background. But I find it hard to swallow as a "normal" citizen who enjoys the freedoms of this great country that I should offer thanks to private military personnel. Who do I value most in my own neighborhood? The city police or private security guards? Who do they answer to? It's not the individuals who are the issue. It's the organizations in charge. You make a strong argument and I applaud you for the effort. But I have a hard time understanding your point of view.


Compliments on an excellent perception: people's motivations are almost always complex mixtures, and this applies to contractors as well. The problems are the set of perceptions that accompany the word "mercenary", and the fear that unaccountable, private armies will eventually be used against US citizens. Some kind of policy statement from the contractors clearly and unambiguously spelling out their positions on running operations inside the US would go a long way toward allaying that fear (or confirming it).
As always, my compliments.

Uncle $cam

RJH, would love to read your take on
Nada Nadim Prouty, after all, she is the latest 'spy who billed us'...


Hi, RJ. Longtime fan, first time commenter, yada yada.

Look, I have a question: I've been getting hits from the Prince group, or rather an email client attached to the Prince group.

Now, I take potshots at Erik Prince and Blackwater all the time on my blog so this doesn't surprise me that they may be monitoring me for possible sedition.

My question: Do you have any idea where Total Intel, their new intelligence analyzing arm, is headquartered? I've been to their site and they're, typically, keeping that info close to their vests. I've been to other sites and their location is also kept secret. The IP address that I got located them in New York City. Please email me if you have any info about this.

 R J Hillhouse


I believe TI is located in Arlington, Virginia.

Various members of the Prince Group do monitor what's written about them, but there's nothing nefarious going on. They're in a serious PR crisis and watching things closely.

I used to be the only one who regularly wrote about them, so I've long had readers from there and I'm not worried.

Much more troubling was a pull this week of every single item on this site by a secure server whose identity was masked. No idea who's doing the data mining there and why. Not sure if that counts as domestic surveillance, but it undoubtedly is a waste of taxpayer money--be it blue or green.



Alice Marshall

What do you mean by pulled by a secure server?


Leaving aside the comparison with military members, I appreciate thinking of we contractors on Veterans' Day.

With regard to Red Sinclair's comments, I can't vouch for BW's reports as I worked for a British firm, but I have seen first-hand numerous occasions where contractors have risked their lives to help others when they could simply have turned their backs.

One incident comes to mind - a missile which caused premature detonations of stacked munitions (about 12 stacks of 4,000 lbs of explosive material per stack), throwing shrapnel everywhere. I drove to the towers around the perimeter to pull out the Iraqi guards (well inside the Exclusion Zone for planned detonations) while the explosions were still occurring. That was one moment of unselfish stupidity on my part - I may tell you about the sandstorm episode another time.

The point I'd like to leave you with is that contractors regularly display unselfish and even heroic behaviour - which will likely never be known outside our little community.

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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.