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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."
    --TypePad.com

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OUTSOURCED.

« Greening of the Black Sites, Pt. 3: Blue Isn't Always Best | Main | Blackwater Enters the Campaign: Hillary calls for a ban »

February 19, 2008

Comments

Rob Leymoyne

Funny that you don't talk about government employees and their loud mouths on the net. It is also funny that you lump one bad egg into the same basket as the rest of the contracting force. I have seen the best of both worlds, no need to bash either; we all are on the same side.

R J Hillhouse

Actually, this contractor isn't a "bad egg," but rather it's considered among the best and brightest.

I'm not contractor bashing. We are indeed all on the same side and it's this blind spot when it comes to CI that troubles me. As I pointed out in the post, I'm actually protecting the contractor's identity, although for security purposes, it really doesn't matter since this stuff has been on the web for years.

RJH

Retired

Rob,

"Admit nothing, deny everything, make counteraccusations." Yep, I have one of those ballcaps, too. And it isn't just one contractor that so boldly proclaims what it does for the USG on its website.

I cannot help but muse that there is something--I don't know what--about our current government leadership that seems to induce, almost legitimize, the type of disclosures and "mistakes" that would've surely led to termination in disgrace just a few short years ago. My perception is that this started in the early 1990s, but the current administration did nothing to reverse the trend. Quite the contrary, they demanded that intelligence professionals trade professional integrity for political loyalty in an unprecedented way. And now we are living with the blowback.

Jeff Carr

Too bad that Rob didn't see your post for what it is - a classic Red Team analysis of OPSEC discipline. Nice work, as usual, RJ.

Tony Foresta

Spooky revelations Dr. RJ Hillhouse. Given the corporate penetration and perhaps compromising of the intelligence community, - do those individuals operating the mobile proprietary micro-electromagnetic gadgets with both offensive and defensive capabilities, and their corporate masters serve the best interests of the American people, - or said corporations?

TOO

It's the Directorate of Science and Technology, not the Division.

R J Hillhouse

Thanks, TOO. A last minute change resulted in a typo. My error.

RJH

Snoopy

Funny, Retired, that's a perfect summary of what I've just read in a book recently. You're not Mr Baer by any chance, are you?

In any case, this blog is both very depressing and enlightening. Cheers, RJH.

Derek Gilbert

What prevents these contractors from selling their services to foreign corporations or governments?

Tony Foresta

Given the your"...perception is that this started in the early 1990s, but the current administration did nothing to reverse the trend. Quite the contrary, they demanded that intelligence professionals trade professional integrity for political loyalty in an unprecedented way. And now we are living with the blowback" (a perception I share in a pedestrian way), - the offensive capabilities of these gadgets and the (suspect) loyalties of the contractors lurking about using them that is....troubling.

"Deliver us from evil!"

KLEPT

My perception is that this started in the early 1990s, but the current administration did nothing to reverse the trend. Quite the contrary, they demanded that intelligence professionals trade professional integrity for political loyalty in an unprecedented way. And now we are living with the blowback.

They only thing intelligence employees have been able to execute effectively in the last 30 or so years is make excuses for there inept waste of taxpayers dollars.

Retired

KLEPT,

I'm sure that we would all be interested in your sharing your insightful, first hand knowledge of exactly what was going on. Please do so. Thanks.

Rich

Derek Gilbert:

The same thing that keeps government employees from doing the same thing: their own virtue. I think what you are talking about is the organized transfer of intel collected or developed on U.S. Government contract to a foreign power by a commercial entity and not the individual.

Rob L:

No one has covered themselves with glory concerning this subject. Both commercial and government sides have dropped the ball.

I'd like to right more but am in the middle of morning coffee and thinking hurts.

Your post speaks for itself. /snark

Rich

The last line was to Klept. See what I mean about morning coffee?

Scott

I am contacting you through this contact form as there was no email address available. We would be interested in purchasing advertising on your blog http://www.thespywhobilledme.com/the_spy_who_billed_me/
. Please get back to me using the email address I have entered if you would be interested in discussing this further.

Derek Gilbert

Rich: Exactly right. Profit is a powerful incentive, as evidenced by the lack of judgment displayed by the company profiled by Dr. Hillhouse.

Tony Foresta

And therein lies the problem and our dread concern Derek Gibert.

Are these companies and corporations loyal to America and Americans, or to profit?

If the former, than shame on them for sloppiness, - if the latter, - then woe to us for allowing our intelligence apparatus to be sold to individuals, and companies whose operations, interests, and loyalties are focused on profits, - and not America or Americans.

"Deliver us from evil!"

510

Re. the culture of persistent OPSEC violations:

I will never forget, shortly after 9/11/2001, hearing Bush's press secretary talk about "picking up terrorist chatter." I nearly fell out of my chair, as that phrase transparently translates to "intercepting terrorst communications," and such blatant blabbing about sources & methods in years past would have gotten the man fired before the end of the press conference.

Instead, that phrase was repeated countless times by countless Administration officials, in the years following the attacks.

Quite a contrast to the days of "Never Say Anything" and "I work for the (unrelated mundane civilian agency or department) doing (something terribly boring), you really don't want to hear it."

To that we can add the Plame case, the Iran crypto leak, Cheney's refusal of document security checks, White House comms handled over insecure private data facilities for political reasons, and countless similar examples.

The bottom line is, the present Administration wouldn't know an OPSEC problem if it was wearing dark glasses, a cloak, and a dagger. And they have set an (atrocious) example from top to bottom, which has been duly followed by those whose hiring had more to do with ideology than with capability.

The only thing that's going to change it is this year's election and a clean sweep top to bottom. Any of the three leading candidates can be counted on to do a better job, though it pains me to say that if we have to have eight years of Democrats in the White House to do it, then so be it.

Tony Foresta

Word 5:10. The proliferation of private military, private intelligence, and private media industrial compex contractors is focused exclusively on wanton profiteering by the fascists in the Bush government, and NOT on securing America.

Intelligence is no longer raw data compiled, collated, vetted, and analyzed - it is purely political propaganda pimped and proselytized. Tragically, it is the America people and our uniformed assets that must burden the hazards, and pay the gargantuan bills.

"Deliver us from evil!"

Richard Cook

I don't know about the profiteering angle. Government employees have functioned as moles in the intelligence apparatus for, in some cases, decades before being discovered. They operated, in many cases with an unstated profit motive. We know what the motives of companies we are outsourcing to up front. To make a profit and i don't have a problem with that. We are going to have to deal with this eventually since the contractors are here to stay. I don't pretend to know the answer, but, I think any line of arguement that includes we can't have private military contractors has a built in fatal flaw.

Retired

Foresta wrote: "The proliferation of private military, private intelligence, and private media industrial compex contractors is focused exclusively on wanton profiteering by the fascists in the Bush government..."

Anyone who writes such cannot possibly have had a particularly broad or deep first hand knowledge of intelligence outsourcing during the past decade. Those who have realize that contracting out intelligence, as opposed to nation building support, has been pretty much the result of: (1) a demand for rapid expansion of the numbers of people used in the intelligence function by both the White House and Congress, (2) the structuring of the funding of this expansion in a way that pretty much dictated contracting out (i.e., hiring green badgers) as opposed to building internal infrastructure (i.e., hiring blue badgers), and (3) the reaction of the marketplace to same.

Unlike outsourced "nation building" support, which is handled by a handful of well-connected large firms, privatized intelligence has resulted in an almost extreme proliferation of small, specialized companies, each with their niche. To the extent that these microfirms are politically loyal to anyone, they are far too numerous and their ownership far too diverse to constitute a financial windfall for Bush cronies.

Intelligence contracting, PMCs and nation building support can't be lumped into a single characterization. They are very different, indeed.

Tim Eadz

Readers may find it interesting that H&J, aka Blackbird Technologies, is home to LTC Tim Eads, recently featured in the NYT article on Pentagon propagandists. LTC Eads is Blackbird's VP for "govt relations"

Why supply

This is just a stepping stone for the Government Executives to start up there own company's and gain profit and polictical gain from it. That is why it is left alone. I have seen several go to retirement and start up, or secure thier positions with these H&J companies. But What can you do? Nothing, because there either getting paid off now or it will come in it's time, once they retire. So whats at stake you say, our security!!! And our taxes!!

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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.