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“Shadow Intelligence Community” Spotlighted

Tim Shorrock at Salon has a great piece of investigative reporting on, what he calls, “the intelligence industrial complex.” Shorrock chronicles how White House officials and contractors have benefited financially from the “war on terror,” while leaving open the question of how the arrangements have affected intelligence gathering.

About 70 percent of the $50 billion budget for America’s spy agencies goes to private contractors, often run by people that just left the Pentagon or intelligence community. Roger Creasey, the national security council’s deputy director under Bill Clinton, says that the connections made working for spy agencies is “liquid gold” in the private sector. Joan Dempsey, a former top intelligence official in both the Clinton and Bush administration, is now vice-president of Booz Allen, a company she likes to see as a “shadow intelligence community.”

Dick Armitage’s business practices are specifically targeted. While Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, Armitage had cultivated an image of an administration maverick critical of the Iraq War. Now Armitage splits time amongst being adviser for the McCain campaign, adviser to the Pentagon, and a stakeholder in several companies profiting off the war Armitage opposed.

Coverage of Iraq War contracting has been largely critical, citing waste, fraud, and abuse. Some suggest that the contractors are actually counterproductive to the military’s efforts. That conclusion is not in Shorrock’s Salon piece, which is excerpted from a book he just completed. It would be interesting to find out how making the spying trade a for-profit business has hurt or helped intelligence agencies.

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