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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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OUTSOURCED.

« Contractor's Website Reveals Clandestine CIA Programs | Main | Pentagon Asserts Authority Over Contractors--Finally »

February 29, 2008

Comments

Retired

Do the math? Sen Clinton has done the math, the math that says that she's behind in Texas and better come up with a sound bite that reverses this. Whether such math is realistic or beneficial to anyone elese is irrelevant.
And by the way, Sen. Clinton, PMCs are accountable to the government, through a little process known as contract termination. That is, if the contractor doesn't do what the government (via the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative) tells them to do, the contract is terminated and they all lose their jobs. Of course, it is the COTR that then has to come up with who or what is going to replace the contractor for the services required. This silly little requirement, i.e., who then gets the job done, isn't something that Sen. Clinton needs to worry about.

Tony Foresta

Tragically, America is dependent on contractors now to prosecute the operatioons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the socalled neverendingwaronterror.

That said, though "Obama seems to be confident enough in his lead that he can risk political fallout of the acknowledgment that whoever becomes the next president will have little choice but to continue reliance upon contracted security," that sad reality in no way should afford Obama or any other candidate a free pass on enforcinig more stringent regulations, accountability from the variouos contractors and their operations.

"Deliver us from evil!"

Retired

And who do we thank for our dependence on contractors? Large scale contracting for services, particularly in Defense, was pursued vigorously in the 1990s by the Clinton administration as part of the so-called "peace dividend" that supposedly resulted from the fall of the Soviet Union. And it's senior most champion was...wait for it...none other than Vice President Al Gore, who instituted the "Silver Hammer Award" for the agencies that privatized the most. In light of what is happening now, there is an "inconvenient truth" that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by those who want to blame the Bush administration for our current large scale dependence on contractors. Gore set the system up, Bush just used it.

Tony Foresta

Slime democrats to your hearts content Retired, but the sad fact you cannot dance away from or ignore, is that while Clinton and Gore may have "set the system up", (a fact that is disputable in another thread) - the fascists in the Bush government have "used it" monsterous ways, in increased that use to unprecedented levels.

It is the Bush government that has perverted, reengineered, and profiteered wantonly from the private military and intelligence contractor industrial complexes, and it is the fascist in the Bush government who are singularly and exclusively benefiting and profiteering wantonly from these odious processes and operations.

"Deliver us from evil!"

R J Hillhouse

Retired wasn't "sliming" democrats, but rather pointing out some "inconvenient" facts abut how we got where we are today with government outsourcing.

Interesting is that you found this so threatening that you needed to fall into political rhetoric that serves no useful purpose other than to let off steam and most definitely does not move a discussion forward.

Perhaps the underlying and even more threatening "inconvenient truth" is that there really isn't that big of difference between the two American political parties and that from a larger, more global perspective; they are at best shades of the same color. Sure, the neo-cons' meteoric rise and their equally brilliant flame-out, pushed the envelope a little, but they were an exception to historically staid American politics.

The actual differences between Republicans and Democrats are more based in emotion and history, rather than reality of politics. As a political scientist, it's one of the reasons American politics have always bored me to tears.

As it has been stated here multiple times, contracting at the CIA has absolutely nothing to do with the profits of Bush cronies. It's a far more complex and fascinating issue, one not worthy of discussion when such rhetorical terms as "fascist," "industrial complexes" and my personal fave, "EVIL," are being thrown around.
To paraphrase your tagline, "Deliver us from BS!"

Retired

Interestingly, at least two national news networks were reporting today that Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama was considering the appointment of Republicans as his secretaries of Defense and State, supposedly to counter criticisms of his weakness in these areas. Defense, of course, has the lion's share of outsourcing, both PMC and nation building support. State is number two in overt outsourcing to PMCs. So I guess it doesn't matter where the big boys put their campaign cash, Democrat or Republican, their interests are going to win.

Tom Griffin

The senior adviser acknowledged that Obama could find himself in a situation where, as President, he continues using forces he himself has identified as "unaccountable." The Obama campaign, in other words, may have painted itself into a corner.

Both candidates have made some tough statements about one company in particular, Aegis:
http://preview.tinyurl.com/2sqaod

Obama wrote that Tim Spicer "has been implicated in a variety of human rights abuses around the globe", while Clinton signed a letter that described him as "an individual with a history of supporting excessive use of force against a civilian population."

RonD

Dr., thanks for the piece, and I would love to see the platform for a Prince/Scahill ticket...The sad irony to me is this: I would be willing to bet that overall we have saved no money by all this outsourcing. Rather, the expenses appear, to a layperson like myself, to have simply been distributed through the various agencies that supervise the contractors. If those distributed expenses are considered under the military budget, the price skyrockets...Or so it appears to me. As always, I greatly appreciate your work.
-Ron

Tony Foresta

With all due respect Dr. Hillhouse, I agree wholeheartely with you "that there really isn't that big of difference between the two American political parties and that from a larger, more global perspective; they are at best shades of the same color," but real inconvenient truth is that the vulcans or socalled neocons are indeed fascist in practice and ideology. Look up, the word, compare with the myriad sordid machinations and activities of the Bush government, and get back to me.

I do not fling the term around frivolously or without due diligence. While you and others may take offense to the use of the word in regards to the activities of the Bushg government, and it may be incendiary, it is not BS.

In fact, any cursory examination of the Bush government's actual policies and ideologies, as opposed the the hollow babel, partisan parables, and rank deceptions falsely framing these policies and ideologies in partiotic rhetoric, will prove that the term fascist is an entirely accurate and correct description of the individuals in, and practices of the Bush government.

I also greatly appreciate you work, and this site. Private military and intelligence companies, the woefull lack of accounting and accountability with regard to these companies, and the endemic and systemic wanton profiteering involved with these companies and particularly the fascists in the Bush government is a subject I have researched and studied since 2000. Note Cambone's recent appointment at QinetiQ as the most current example.

The great benefit you offer to all Americans in your reportage is providing a kind of insider peak into these companies and activities and shining lights on issue, and potential abuses that are relevent to all Americans.

I stand on my use of the term fascist in describing the Bush government based on mountains of well documented evidence and years of study, and further reiterate the point above that the Bush governments' private military and intelligence contractor machinations are both unprecedented in the breath and scope far beyond any previous administrations, and highly suspect in the incestuous and wanton profiteering.

I appreciate the opportunity to post on this site. I glean a great deal of information from yours posts and the many erudite commentaries on those posts.

That said, I do not afford anyone in the Bush government one particle of goodfaith, goodwill, credibility or trust, and while the democrats may be cut from the same cloth as traditional republicans, it is disingenous to deny the grievous damage the Bush Government has wrought on America, the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power into a few select cronies, cabals, and oligarchs resulting from the Bush government policies, and the radical dismembering, betrayal, and reengineering of the Constition by the fascists in the Bush government. These people are not republican in the traditional sense, and with regard to this thread, - there is a dire need for Americans to demand stricter regulation on the private military and intelligence industries, the implementation of clearly defined legal parameters regarding private military and intelligence industry contractors, contracts, and missions, and a mechanism for the American people to require accountability, review, and remedy for abuse by private military and intelligence contractors, and those who award those contracts.

Billions of the peoples dollars are at stake. The people deserve the right to demand accountability from our government and private military and intelligence companies contracted by the government.

Retired

OK, let's put these strong assertions to the test, since it is claimed that they are based on "mountains of well documented evidence and years of study."

Specify five intelligence contracts, out of the thousands that have existed since 2000, that have been improperly awarded and/or are inadequately overseen. Specify these contracts by name/number, by awarding organization, by the contractor to whom awarded, by contract value awarded, by who, exactly, made the award decision and how the specific awards process was flawed or unfair.

For the same or any five other specific intelligence contracts, specify, exactly and in detail, how the oversight process is flawed and not sufficiently accountable under the Code of Federal Regulations.

Let's have specifics here, not generalities. Name names and legitimate, unbiased sources of evidence or other proof.

To save trouble, you may skip the Dusty Foggo water contract. He's currently under Federal criminal indictment, and the contractor to which that $1 million contract was awarded has already been convicted of multiple felonies. We know about that one, and the perps are about to be sharing a room at the exclusive Graybar Hotel and Resort.

Over to you.

Tony Foresta

I have no interest in assuaging your impossible requests Retired, since the project, (while worth endeavoring would take more time than I have available to commit to this post. Also, no matter what claims I make, you will find some issue to dispute with regard to either sources or numbers.

This 2004 paper/link touches on some of the issues I mention above. http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/updates/FPIFJune2004.html


Yet in the interests of good sportsmanship -

See this link http://www.publicintegrity.org/WOWII/database.aspx?act=toponehundredcontractors for detail on the top 100 contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2006. Click the company name for contract ID, totals, bidding info, and other details.

KBR whose $16,059,282,020 in contract (2006) dwarfs all other contractor is legendary for it's incestuousness, malfeasance, and intepenetrating relations with the Bush government.

I won't waste time detailing mentioning Blackwater and the numerous investigation into that companies misdealings on this site.

The Carlyle Group is too spooky and murky to even begin analysing on this thread, but you can do your own google if you dare and see there are mountains of evidence pertaining to that private equity firms Bush government tentacles and wanton and profiteering, and shady business practices.

Dyncorp, whose chemical weapons activities in Colombia just might be contributing to the little dustup with Ecuadora and Venezuela is another company deserving review, recourse, and remedy. Do your own google on the many investigations into fraud, malfeasance and abuse with Dyncorp.

CACI and Titan whose intimate, not mention perverted activities at Gitmo, Abu Gharaib, and Camp Cropper are equally well documented.


“USPI faces accusations of overcharging USAID by billing for employees and vehicles that did not exist, said a U.S. security official with close ties to the company who wasn’t authorized to release the information. The overbilling could run into the millions of dollars…"

Erynis, who hires South African Aparthied mercenaries and whose unknown unknown association with Litvinenko are both curious and disturbing has also been mentioned in congressional hearings for fraud, abuse, and malfeasance.

And there are many more companies like the Poindexter infected Syntex Technologies, or Ptech whose owners, actual names, various contracts, and odious activities are still bouncing around like basketballs.

My point is these industries and companies are under regulated, under reviewed, lacking in legal clarity, lacking in accounting, lacking in accountability, and and many of them have tentacles deep into the wanton profiteers in the Bush government.

The people deserve accountability from our government, and those companies contracted with our government.

Retired

Just as I thought. No real specifics as to unfair awards or lack of accountability, just general, unprovable allegations, none of which, I might add, is related to an intelligence contract. Yet "intelligence contracts" are habitually lumped in with the general "PMC" contracts. OK, we know where you're coming from, and what your standards for making accusations are.

Tony Foresta

I'll accept your judgements Retired. I have my speak, and you have yours. In the end, I hope we are on the same team. If you are right and I am wrong, all is well in the land of Oz. If I am right, and you are wrong, America is deep ca ca.

Forgive me for lumping, because in truth I do include private military, and private intelligence, and additionally private media, (The Rendon Group, Baker Botts, et al.) companies into a single slurry. I appreciate, they are seperate industries and financial sectors, - but they unite and converge when measured in financial and political benefits to the fascists in the Bush government.

Much of what we know is majikally unaccessible now. The Bush government cloaks all it's activities in a web of deciet, secretiveness, and supremist rights, (rights the American people did not, and would not willingly afford the fascist in the Bush government or the cowards wearing the masks of democrats) and it is difficult work pushing these issue to the socalled mainstream. Note the deafening silence on Sibel Edmonds.

I see bad moons rizing, and the retort that democrats-are-bad-people-too, is cold comfort.

The American people (my daughter specifically) are facing, and must hazard and endure a number are very serious crisis. Weapons proliferation, access to drinkable water issues, accessibility to WMD, financial calamity, and a world whose citizens on 9/11 rallied in support of America now loathe America, and with good reason.

I cannot in good conscience support the policies of the Bush government. The fascists in the Bush government have shamed, betrayed, and reengineered America, and profiteered wantonly in and from the process. It is America I defend.

I thank you for your service, and sincerely hope, regardless of our disparate positions and beliefs - that we are on the same team.

Retired

We are on the same team in one respect. I insist upon honesty from government employees and elected and appointed officials. That doesn't mean that I don't recognize that there are some things concerning government that must remain secret, such as information that could make us vulnerable to attack by our enemies, or protecting the identities of people who serve our interests, sometimes at great personal risk.

The specifics of most government contracts, however, do not fall into this category. Indeed, most information regarding competitively awarded contracts is openly available, as it must be in order to have a competition at all. Where it is not, and there is not a clear reason for exception, questions need to be raised.

Political embarrasment is not a valid reason for classifcation and secrecy, and it is in this area that the current administration has noticeably moved the bar of standards in the wrong direction, at least in my opinion. The difference between previous administations and the current one is not so much in the types of abuses that have taken place, but in their scope (once again, this is my perception).

Questions need to be asked, and where inadequate answers are given, these need to be pursued. On the other hand, where the answers come back forthrightly and mistakes, if any, are unintentional, this needs to be acknowledged, as well.

Tony Foresta

True that Retired. A thousand thanks for your service.

e.c. herrick

In theory, stripping away normative concerns, the concept of contracting makes sense. Like any other market, however, efficiency is unlikely if the market is corrupted (id est, buyers and sellers do not have perfect knowledge.)

There is nothing novel about the idea of contracting out, by government, in times of war for goods and services. In the case of Iraq the issue is one of magnitude and the absence or any apparent interest to 1) contract in a responsible way, or 2) tolerate much by the way of controls to foster responsibility.

I really don't see a substantive difference between contracting with Dyna/Blackwater etal today and running pirates in the Yellow and South China Seas back in the 1950's and 1960's;-)

To use contractors efficiently you should have some clear way of measuring benefit against cost - kind of hard in the absence of objectives to figure out if you are making "good buys" and whether goals have been met. The current mess settles on objectives after the fact so success is "achieved."

Things have been imcompetently handled but that is not to say contracting can't be done well. Jeepers - do you suppose Congress will resurrect or enact any sort of useful war profiteering law?

Tony Foresta

One can only hope e.c. herrick.

In fact the Webb-McCaskill Commission on Wartime Contracting attempted to initiate this exact kind of oversite.

Predictably, and unfortunately for the American people, dear leader issued as signing order killing the commission.

The current panjandrum is profiteering wantonly from the transformational and unprecedented increase in contracting without review, recourse, or remedy for abuse. Nothing will change, until our leadership changes.

Quoting from this link http://webb.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=291449


("Stating that the Commission, signed into law last night by the President in the National Defense Authorization Act, will “march forward in an expeditious manner,” Webb questioned why President Bush saw fit to issue a signing statement critical of a bipartisan body intended to make government more accountable to the American taxpayer.

In his signing statement, the President singled out four of 2,887 sections in the bill, including the section creating the Wartime Contracting Commission, claiming that they could inhibit the President’s ability to execute his authority as commander in chief.

The Commission is modeled after the “Truman Committee” which investigated defense contracts during World War II and was credited with savings of $15 billion (1943 dollars) in taxpayer dollars. Similarly, the Webb-McCaskill measure is designed to address the systematic problems associated with the federal government’s wartime-support, reconstruction, and private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.")

stormulf

Neither Hillary nor Obama is going to prevent outsourcing. All the players do it. Blackwater is better prepared to meet emergencies then the US Army. Check out Kroll if you want to have some fun. Corp U.S. is a private foreign corporation owned and operated by the IMF anyway. Not the same thing as The Government of the United States of America.

Ever hear of 'The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871?' Or...

"War statute in effect and emergency organizations still in operation." Or...

Senate Report 93-549, 93rd Congress, 1st Session, 1973...

"Since March the 9th, 1933, the united States has been in a state of declared National Emergency."

Hillary and Obama are irrelevant. As is their rhetoric.

Congress? Ha! Senate? Ha! Paper tigers blowing in the wind. Who cares what they 'say?' The law is the law!

"In God we trust all others we monitor." - intercept operators manual

Hows your BOp FFOrs doin?

Scott

This is an inactive blog if I've ever seen one.

Alan

Bush made two appointments to the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They include an ex-State Department high up and the past Pentagon CFO. Both were serving the public while $8 billion was expended not in compliance with U.S. laws preventing fraud. I don't see how Grant S. Green or Dov Zakheim will do any better in their new role.

http://peureport.blogspot.com/2008/05/george-bushs-bold-action-appoint.html

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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.