I meant to post this yesterday and never got around to it, but the second part in WaPo’s series on our secret government is up and delves deeper into our national security welfare state, in which private defense contractors get paid tons of money to do the work the Feds should be doing.
It is also a system in which contractors are playing an ever more important role. The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors. There is no better example of the government’s dependency on them than at the CIA, the one place in government that exists to do things overseas that no other U.S. agency is allowed to do.
Private contractors working for the CIA have recruited spies in Iraq, paid bribes for information in Afghanistan and protected CIA directors visiting world capitals. Contractors have helped snatch a suspected extremist off the streets of Italy, interrogated detainees once held at secret prisons abroad and watched over defectors holed up in the Washington suburbs. At Langley headquarters, they analyze terrorist networks. At the agency’s training facility in Virginia, they are helping mold a new generation of American spies.
The truly frightening aspect of having contractors in the national security business, as this piece suggests, is that they have become so entrenched that top government officials do not even know how many contractors there are or what they may be doing. There is no accountability or duty to uphold by any set of laws or standards. Greenwald has his take here and, as always, he is much more informed and has more to say on the subject than I.