The short but profitable tale of how 483,000 private individual have “top secret” access to the nation’s most non-public information begins in 2001. “After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired, it was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf,” and sure enough firms like Booz Allen Hamilton – still two-thirds owned by the deeply-tied-to-international-governments investment firm The Carlyle Group – took full advantage of Congress’ desire to shrink federal agencies and their budgets by enabling outside consultants (already primed with their $4,000 cost ‘security clearances’) to fulfill the needs of an ever-more-encroaching-on-privacy administration.
Booz Allen (and other security consultant providing firms) trade publicly with a cloak of admitted opacity due to the secrecy of their government contracts (“you may not have important information concerning our business, which will limit your insight into a substantial portion of our business”) but the actions of Diane Feinstein who promptly denounced “treasonous” Edward Snowden, “have muddied the waters,” for the stunning 1.1 million (or 21% of the total) private consultants with access to “confidential and secret” government information.
Perhaps the situation of gross government over-spend and under-oversight is summed up best, “it’s very difficult to know what contractors are doing and what they are billing for the work — or even whether they should be performing the work at all.”
First, Diane Feinstein’s take on it all…
“I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters. The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution. “He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”
So how did all this get started?… (via AP)
The reliance on contractors for intelligence work ballooned after the 9/11 attacks. The government scrambled to improve and expand its ability to monitor the communication and movement of people who might threaten another attack.
“After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired,” Augustyn said. “It was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf.”