Privatized and politicized intelligence is undermining the mission of providing unbiased information to both high-level decision makers and the American public, explains George Eliason in this first of a three-part series. (Part two of this series is available here. Part three is here.)
By George Eliason
Back in 1991, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the general consensus of the intelligence community was that America needed a strong Russia. Russians bore the weight of dismantling the Soviet Union and an internally strong and stable Russia was considered the biggest stable democratic government in the hemisphere.
A strong Russia provides stability throughout the region, it was understood. Without a strong and stable Russia, the massive Russian Federation would descend into small nationalist countries. Warring nations and instability would be the norm and not the exception.
For its part, Russia also needs an internally and externally strong America, as does the world. A weak America that is susceptible to overthrow would be the largest threat that nobody wants to talk about. Such a strong America requires professional and competent intelligence services.
On the other hand, if U.S. intelligence is questionable and untrustworthy, there is no single greater threat to the planet today. Members of an intelligence community who try to circumvent the democratic process should be prosecuted no matter who they are or who they are trying to undermine.
This three-part article series is a top-down look at the deep state. Its purpose isn’t to identify every company and every player. Instead, this lead-in is a primer showing the layout of the land at the highest levels and why things have gone so very wrong inside the intelligence community.
The second part will show how the top level relates to the next level down with contractors and companies that deal with public issues, public policy, and commit illegal actions. You’ll see what it looks like when people that have taken the mantle of national security use the tools for their own profit, politics, and prejudices.
Rather than an intellectual exercise, this will show concrete examples of people guiding and pushing fake agendas today. You’ll see clearly the damage they are doing to American citizens that have never been questioned or warned that these things could possibly happen to them in a democratic society.
The third part will explicitly show how this threat translates into the real world to unsuspecting people because they didn’t agree with someone they don’t even know exists. This is the reality when the destruction of your life, reputation, wealth, employment, and relationships become a payable item on someone else’s invoice. The sad fact is your innocence means as much to them as the pleas for mercy from the last “bad guy” they shot in a video game. For them, it’s only a game. You are a troll, not a human being.
The intelligence community lost the ability to police itself during the Iraq War under George W. Bush’s tenure as president. While there remains a majority of intelligence professionals dedicated to public service, the nature of their work keeps them from even being able to talk about the corporate vultures that have taken over the industry and turned it into a for-profit venture that has little to do with national security.
The Spy Who Billed Me
In 2005, Dr. R.J. Hillhouse described this problem with the U.S. intelligence community as it was still developing. Her first Mother Jones article “The Spy Who Billed Me” began a short-lived, unfinished debate on the dangers of using contractors for intelligence work.
Because of how undeveloped the U.S. national security apparatus was going into the digital age, after 9/11 the U.S. government tried to shorten the learning curve by hiring contractors in droves to make up the gap in actionable intelligence. This meant, says John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, that America’s spy network would soon resemble NASA’s mission control room in Houston.
“Most people, when they see that room, think they’re looking at a bunch of NASA people,” Pike notes. “But it’s 90 percent contractors.”
Hillhouse argues that the contracting trend will leave intelligence unchecked and effective oversight less likely. By 2007, Hillhouse demonstrated that corporations, companies, and industry personalities were now starting to illegally oversee their own intelligence services and other companies instead of the agencies that are tasked with governing and controlling them.
For all practical purposes, effective control of the NSA is with private corporations, which run its support and management functions. As the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus reported last year, more than 70 percent of the staff of the Pentagon’s newest intelligence unit, Counterintelligence Field Activity, is made up of corporate contractors.
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) lawyers revealed at a conference in May that contractors make up 51 percent of the staff in DIA offices. At the CIA, the situation is similar. Between 50 and 60 percent of the workforce of the CIA’s most important directorate, the National Clandestine Service (NCS), responsible for the gathering of human intelligence, is composed of employees of for-profit corporations.
While the numbers themselves are shocking, remember, these are 2007 numbers. At the same time, agencies according to the law are supposed to physically keep oversight over the companies and contractors. All intelligence was supposed to be filtered and a neutral report written by the agency before it was put into the presidential daily briefing (PDB). This briefing is singly the most important document produced because of its potential impact on the world.
From the PDB, the president of the United States decides:
- Who is the enemy?
- Who is friendly (or are there really any friends out there)?
- Who is a danger and how?
- Why are they a danger?
- What is their motivation?
- What steps will the US need to take to stop them, turn them in a different direction, or make peace with them?
Hillhouse describes that being in the intelligence community during the Cold War was like being in an extended family. Everyone was doing the work because of a commitment to public service. People counted on each other and looked after each other.
By 2007 this was no longer the case. The critical departments of the agencies themselves were extra-legally almost fully privatized. It’s not a stretch to say that some of the most secret and sensitive work in intelligence was staffed by what amounts to day-hires.
She describes the change in the intelligence community as cataclysmic because it went from that strong tight-knit family setting to resembling groups of problem kids in foster homes because everybody was temporary and there was no commitment, job security, or real oversight.
In an earlier article detailing the rise and dangers of private contractors accessing Vault 7 tools, it becomes clear that to be a star in the new intelligence community, the only qualification is knowing how to network. And it helps if you hate the right people. One of the biggest stars of intelligence over the last decade is a former gift shop cashier that had no intelligence experience or training.
In that article, I asked Professor Michael Jasinsky Assistant Professor Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh about this. Jasinski had oversight over researchers that were later hired by U.S. intelligence agencies and provided evaluations of them prior to their employment.
His comments show why a radical cleanup in both intelligence and counter-terrorism is necessary. Their patriotic feelings were real, he said, but they had a distorted view of the intelligence community. Despite Hollywood depictions, which are influenced by CIA “outreach,” the reality is little like what you might see in Mission Impossible or the Bond films, Jasinsky explained.
“If you ever had personal contact with the ‘three-letter agencies’ for any period of time, you’d think different,” he said. “My most recent experience with the intelligence community was at MIIS, post-9/11 when the agencies were coming there to hire, and they were hiring big. They hired many of my research assistants … and in the process, they’d ask me, their immediate supervisor, for my opinion. So I’d tell them point-blank: can’t read, can’t write, can’t analyze. I don’t care what their CV says, the only language they can function in at any level is English.”
Yet, they would get hired anyway, Jasinsky told me. “Scary political views they wore on their sleeve? No matter, they’d get hired anyway. All of my good assistants went to work for the UN, IAEA, major NGOs. The dregs went to intelligence,” he said.
Jasinsky told me that when he sees the “Russian interference” stories and hears about the intelligence community’s inability to safeguard, or use responsibly, its own cyber-warfare arsenal, he isn’t surprised. “There are no shortcuts in this kind of work,” he said. “If you rapidly expand at the cost of dramatically lowering standards, you (and the country) are going to pay a price. We’re paying it right now.”
Because their jobs depend on contracts being won or lost, there was no longer a commitment to public service. People take real intelligence from one company to another, to another, and so on. Hillhouse noted that out of work spies do what spies do best: they spy and sell secrets.
“More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) unit is staffed by contractors, known as ‘green badgers,’ who also represent the majority of personnel in the DIA, the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and the National Counterterrorism Center,” according to an article by Simon Chesterman in The European Journal of International Law. At the CIA’s station in Islamabad contractors reportedly outnumber government employees three to one, Chesterman points out.
Private companies have been utilized to carry out torture and the misuse of sensitive information collected by intelligence agencies, and yet almost every intelligence and most field roles are being turned over to private companies that get contracts because of “new” problems – crises, influence operations, hacking, danger, threats, or dossiers their companies or related companies happen to find.
Confronted by arbitrary staffing ceilings and uncertain funding, components are left with no choice but to use contractors for work that may be borderline ‘inherently governmental’ – only to find that to do that work, those same contractors recruit our own employees, already cleared and trained at government expense, and then ‘ lease ’ them back at considerably greater expense.
Indeed, if you look at the LinkedIn profiles for either intelligence community corporation principals or any of the department heads and other leadership positions in government agencies, the revolving door pattern is there.
Chesterman’s paper identifies work given to corporations or individuals that should remain a strictly governmental function is now in the hands of companies that do it for hire. For-profit companies are behind most of what the intelligence the agency heads and the president see. For-profit, companies look after their own bottom line, often producing biased information in the hopes of getting repeat business.
Also, because they are committed to their companies and not public service, the lines have been blurred to the point that some of these contractors no longer distinguish between the work they do for U.S. intelligence and security and what they can do legally in the civilian world. There is no difference and they have no problem plying the same tools and techniques on an unsuspecting public.
In a 2007 Washington Post editorial titled “The Value of ‘Private Spies,” which was meant to answer Hillhouse’s accusations of corruption and mismanagement, the DNI tried to deflect it by giving a much lower percentage of contractors than it was using.
But the ODNI did concede that there is some danger of using private companies for intelligence and direct action work. “Our workforce has recovered to the point that we can begin to shed some contract personnel or shift them away from core mission areas, and the CIA is leading the way in this,” the ODNI stated.
So that was 11 years ago. Did the ODNI make good on taking control back from private companies that profit on national security problems? Nope. How are things shaping up in the intelligence community today?
In a 2015 article at The Nation titled “How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA,” Tim Shorrock describes what he calls “the cyberintelligence ruling class.”
“Over the last 15 years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit,” Shorrock wrote.
Many of the principal figures come from America’s wealthiest families. Although the wealthiest have always had a lead in filling policy and cabinet positions, this time the public service aspect is missing.
Shorrock goes on to detail how the same 1% Americans claim to be fighting is the cyberintelligence elite that controls the media. Mathew Olsen is an example as the former National Counterterrorism Center director and current IronNet Corp. president. He joined ABC as a commentator. He goes further and shows how this is the rule and not the exception.
This is going on all across media channels. Every network has their own cyberintelligence “expert” to explain complicated topics, but their conflicts of interest almost always remain hidden.
The other point Shorrock noted was that their storylines are almost always their companies’ position. They are why the networks don’t deviate often from the official version of things because they provide the official version to the U.S. government.
If it looks like U.S. intelligence and the media networks are all working from the exact same narrative, it’s because they are. By using narrative builders the intelligence elite avoids information fratricide. This happens when there are opposing views to a given situation which neutralize the point you want to push.
Information fratricide is defined as actions, perceptions, and information from friendly forces that create improper impressions can adversely affect intelligence operations. This means everyone in media has to follow the same narrative. Stopping information fratricide was why the PropOrNot blacklist was rolled out, and is why certain sectors are very aggressive in shutting down or discrediting independent media outlets.
In fact, this is a well-worn process, going back decades. As the late Robert Parry has explained, the media agenda is enforced through a tactic called “controversializing,” which is a process of being marginalized, attacked and “subjected to systematic smears and professional deconstruction.”
As a result, they have undermined a free and unrestricted press and essentially destroyed the Fourth Estate.
When people can’t get the facts to judge governmental actions, the government can do no wrong because there are no freedoms, rights, or protections left for the people. People engaged in real criminal activity can do no wrong and there is no accountability possible.
When I started researching this three years ago, I was focused on the bottom of this intelligence-media pyramid. In the two follow-up articles, the way the very top of the pyramid interacts with the boots on the ground practitioners in the new American reality will be examined.
George Eliason is an American journalist who lives and works in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Part two of this series is available here. Part three is here.
Syntax please. Let’s edit things a little more professionally.
The CIA is the President’s private army. The report directly to the President and have no oversight from any other government branch or person. The CIA is there to please the President and will craft its “intelligence” to fit the needs of the President as it did with the weapons of mass destruction pretext myth used to invade Iraq.
Incompetent spy agencies are a huge threat to the American people but a benefit to the rest of the world. When countries like Germany and Israel and Saudi decide that they can’t work with American spies any longer, they disconnect from America and start moving toward the other side. The sane side gets bigger and the crazy side shrinks. Virtuous circle.
Mr. Eliason has made an attribution mistake in saying that Dr. R.J. Hillhouse wrote “The Spy Who Billed Me” and then again referring to that same Mother Jones article and “Hillhouse” later in this article. The link clearly takes one to a Mother Jones story written by Tim Shorrock and Dr. Hillhouse is not even cited or quoted in that article. I hope Mr. Eliason will make a correction.
While this article is clearly about a systemic Intelligence problem, it’s impossible to not immediately consider how the systemic failure is affecting the “Russia hacked … (now corrected to) interfered with the 2016 election” narrative.
When I make any posts that question major facets of Russia-gate (and I absurdly must note that I am the opposite of a Trump supporter but that’s a common accusation of questioning the narrative), I’m either ignored, and when not ignored and engaged, I have sadly come to find out that a large number of my friends and acquaintances have completely accepted the narrative blindly without doubt.
So, even though the thrust of the article is correct, mistakes like an article mis-attribution will make the whole dismissed.
(Also, while Mr. Eliason fortunately mostly defined the letter names that aren’t common currency, that is, defining CIFA but assuming we all know what CIA and NSA means- he did miss some that caused me to stopped reading and google “ONDI”, “IAEA”, “MIIS”… this is an important article but it’s dense and I’m only making this minor critique – hopefully before Part 3 is published – so that it gets disseminated as widely as possible.)
I believe the “Intelligence ” empire now employs 850,000 people in some capacity and costs $100 billion annually.
Yet social media, Twitter, Facebook content, appears to be the basis of many intelligence assessments.
I think that from the inception, intelligence agencies had at least two roles: (I) collecting information allowing national decision makers to make rational decisions (they could kindly decline that opportunity) and (II) information warfare, promulgating a convenient version of “reality” and spreading it through various media channels. Then there were also “operations” that more often than not were outright criminal — would courts shed their patriotism and ventured to pay attention.
As a part of the second mission, crap was meticulously commissioned and collected, and of course it was not labelled as such, but well trained analysts could quickly tell the difference between documentation gather for purpose I and purpose II. But they were also trained in keeping their mouth shut when not asked. Moreover, the circulation of the information of type (I) that contradicted type (II) had to be as discrete as possible, leaving no paper trail etc.
In the years leading to Iraq War II, type (II) on Iraq (i.e. crap) was collected and used to extend a sanction regime forever. Whatever the purpose of Bill Clinton policy was, refraining from war was prudent in part because it avoided disclosure that disinformation provided by CIA etc. was a pile of manure and hindering future of American propaganda. My conjecture is that Clinton’s policy was well informed, although vile. Then neocons around G. W. Bush decided to pull all the stop to revitalize war as a tool of statecraft, magnifying American domination abroad and permanently eliminating Democrats from power in Washington. I am totally puzzled to what extend the principals of that policy were actively mislead by “politicized intelligence”. After all, to politicize, the opposing opinions had to be banned from internal Washington discussions, and that required some awareness of those opinions. Moreover, certain stories like “Niger uranium” and “pipes for centrifuges” were debunked in public again and again, and plied by DoS and other “authorities” again and again, so people like C. Rice and C. Powell had to be aware that they deal with manure — unless they were stupid.
When was there ever a “free and unrestricted press”?
Unbelievable ! A profoundly shocking expose’. The extent to which the very agencies designed to protect Americans, instead of spying on them for profit, is a commentary on the degree to which we have lost our status as a free people. We owe the author the Paul Revere Award for sounding the alarm.
Chris Hedges makes the point that it’s the Oligarchs, stupid!
Interesting. Sort of the same route as the Roman Empire when they used mercenaries more and more for their security apparatus.
The author lives in the Donbass? Despite knowing what power these intelligence services have in creating small wars? A brave soul.
You can read George Eliason’s articles from the beginning of the coup in Ukraine up to the present on his author’s page at OpEd News. Harrowing stuff.
All money and all property relies on violence and the threat of violence to perpetuate itself. “Capitalism” by any name is violence, plain and simple.
The little slips of green paper will get you anything you want. And so we became addicted to money, and it came to trump every other value, including love and peace…….
Is there a way out of this fatal disease? Yes, but it involves sharing equally, and that is something the holders of huge numbers of green backs will do everything in their power to prevent. This is our basic global problem; if we fail to solve it, then all other efforts will be futile and eventually result in our extinction – from failure to learn how to share.
The deep state – the U.S. war industry – is entrenched in every branch of the U.S. government. Its objective is for-profit wars and instability, and the intelligence-media pyramid is an essential part of its structure. Making war should be called what it is: not just treason to a state but to the global community. Those who promote and profit by war should be tried for crimes against humanity and punishable by confiscation of assets and summary execution. So long as war is acceptable and more profitable than peace, the U.S. will remain the foremost threat to the world.
George Eliason – great piece. Thank you.
I remember when smart educated Americans used to ridicule the Soviets for dogmatically clinging to the false narratives they were fed by their insider elites. The attitude was always, “how can you reason with people who are so obviously and obliviously brainwashed?” Clearly what goes around, comes around. Who are the fools now?
I’ve only known about the privatization of US Intelligence for a few years, but since then have considered it to be about the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard of. This first-of-a-series piece has already shown how badly uninformed I was about the scale of the issue.
I wonder how many other nations have also gone this brainless route. As I see it, in any encounters we have with competent foreign agencies who put “Country” ahead of individual and corporate profit, we’re going to be eaten alive.
Maybe that’s a process we have to go through to come out a more sane and just society on the other end. We claim incessantly how we have repeatedly saved the world. Who is going to save us?
This is the wonderful “NEOLIBERAL privatisation, economic model” that has been foisted on every Country in the World since Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan championed this morally bankrupt & insidious philosophy during the 1980’s? The goal is to fleece as much profit as possible from the public purse using corrupt contractors usually via outsourcing assets or services & if it destroys society, so be it & to heck with the consequences? This privatisation of the Intelligence agencies really highlights the complete bankruptcy of this sham called Neoliberalism! Worldwide, people are rejecting this failed economic model & re-nationalising Govt assets & services & booting out these greedy private contractors & Companies that are little more than parasites & pond scum! The same thing needs to happen with these intelligence agency contractors before they cause World War 3, it’s that serious, one of these lunatics could inadvertently cause nuclear war due to their incompetence!
The official US motto should never have been “e pluribus unum” (one from many) but rather “every man for himself” (modified at one point to “greed is good”).
> if it destroys society, so be it
“There is no such thing as society.” — Maggie Thatcher
I suppose you are right. . . The funny thing is, I only got into this through the back door, and I thought at the beginning I was looking into ancient history, things that happily belonged to the past – ridiculously reckless biowarfare programs that Nixon supposedly shut down in 1969. Then I came across Biopreparat and the Soviet bioweapons program c. 1970-1990, and I thought, well, great they shut that down. . . Grew a little suspicious in the late 1990s when I was a grad student with an NSF Fellowship in the area of microbiology, and then the 2001 anthrax attacks hit. Wait a second, I thought, this doesn’t seem right. . . And inquiries only resulted in various forms of FBI persecution.
I find it irritating, though, I really do. Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, they spent their lives developing systems to prevent the spread of infectious disease. . . And then the CIA and Dick Cheney and cohort, as far as I can tell, spread anthrax through the US mail, killing a number of people, causing a national ‘false flag’ panic, all so they can invade Iraq on bogus WMD claims? And Obama refuses to reopen the anthrax case, and now we have Mueller, chief operative of the coverup, running some ‘special prosecutor’ operation against Trump – with an even worse actor, Pence, waiting in the wings?
Well, if there’s no way out, then the only option is to go further in.
And we all have to decide if we want to eat the droppings on the way in, or starve to death.
Yeah, they finally fingered the culprit, didn’t they? [Hardly.] Some mentally disturbed individual employed at Ft. Dietrick who conveniently committed suicide when they put the heat on him. The perp obviously had to be some kind of professional microbiologist with access to critical bacterial strains, the esoteric means make them sporulate and then the sophisticated apparatus to lyophilize them. [In truth an undergraduate work-study student could have pulled it off if he were sufficiently motivated.] First, they tried to pin the blame on a South African epidemiologist, but he counter-sued them and exposed their plan to frame him. Amazing he didn’t die of lead poisoning. [Or better yet, poisoning from Polonium on orders of Vladimir Putin.]
Canadian author Graeme McQueene has a great tome on the 911 anthrax attacks. And lead poisoning will get you out of exposing perpetrators through testimony, don’t ya know.
Test comment is this getting through?
No, and you can’t get out.
Great article! I can’t wait for the next two installments. Regarding the comment about that outsourcing our legislators. Too late. Those guys on Capitol Hill aren’t lawmakers, they just play one on TV. They don’t draft legislation, Hell most of them don’t even read it. Think tanks full of lobbyists, funded by big money interests decide the strategy and write the laws. The pentagon and military are increasingly controlled by private contractors much as this article describes the situation in the intelligence agencies. The press is wholly owned by a handful of corporate conglomerates. Trump is watching Fox News and tweeting all day, while 2 generals and the CEO of Exon handle the foreign policy, Goldman Sachs handles the economy and neo-nazis duke it out with right wing holy rollers over who gets the privilege of dismantling and selling off the parts of the remaining federal agencies. If the Russians want to infiltrate our government they’re going to have to find it first.
Bravo! You have got it right brother.
True. I don’t believe the “majority of intelligence professionals are dedicated to public service” as the author states at the beginning of this piece.
They are working for a corrupt cabal whose purpose is to perpetuate the ability of the powers that be to exploit the rest of us. The sooner we recognize that harsh reality, the better.
They want some of the endless government welfare given to the “cannot fail” largesse.
They think their cabal is god’s gift to mankind and that its actions are hence a public service. You just don’t realise what’s good for you. [sarcasm]
This article and the commentary on it are fine, as far as it goes. Who can argue against how privatization of intelligence has corrupted it? The error is that this is implied to be the primary problem. The primary problem is why the intelligence is collected in the first place, not who the paymasters of the agents are. The intelligence is to keep the rich in power and those who they oppress in a state of servitude. This would not be changed if private contractors or their employees became civil servants. For all its merits, this article misses the more important point: The system needs to be changed, not one of its symptoms.
In a better world, peopled by better people, spying of any kind would no longer exist. In a world where people love and trust each other there is no need for spies. Our present world is unfortunately structured to cultivate paranoia and aggression. If you think such a better world is not possible, then you are resigned to the nightmare we are enacting now.
What Intelligence. Certainly not Military Intelligence. Think Tank Intelligence? Treason.> Most likely by definition. Take the training wheels off your bikes the “Game ” is on
This is a very good article but I have to take a bit of exception to this particular reverential reference to a mythical past:
“Hillhouse describes that being in the intelligence community during the Cold War was like being in an extended family. Everyone was doing the work because of a commitment to public service. People counted on each other and looked after each other.”
There are many examples of insanely reckless actions taken by the CIA during the Cold War – as just one example, Sidney Gottlieb of the CIA’s Technical Services Section almost certainly ordered the murder of US Army biowarfare scientist Frank Olson, who was collaborating with the CIA’s covert assassination program but who wanted out. (Early 1950s). Then if we go up to the 1960s, we have domestic political CIA operations like Operation CHAOS, intended to manipulate public opinion inside the US, as well as Operation PHOENIX, a disruption/assassination program targeting South Vietnamese politicial dissidents (and pro-communist groups).
This exposes a fundamental fact about the CIA – it is not so much an ‘intelligence’ service than it is a manipulation/disinformation service. Assassinations and propaganda distribution fit right into this agenda. Much of this was exposed in the 1970s via the Church Committee hearings, which gave rise to very weak oversight programs such as the judicial FISA court and the legislative Congressional oversight committees. In fact, didn’t the private contractor era begin in the early 1980s as a means to escape such oversight? Indeed, the CIA-Contra-Cocaine story that Robert Parry, Gary Webb and others exposed seems to have had a large private contractor angle, for example, private airplane companies that flew for the CIA (see also the heroin/gun trade in Laos in the 1960s, Air America, Alfred McCoy and “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, etc.)
Nevertheless there are a few areas where the CIA has functioned as a decent intelligence service – for example, tracking the nuclear weapons and materials in the ex-Soviet satellite states in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in cooperation with Russian intelligence, which allowed all that loose nuclear material to be secured and shipped to safe locations.
That’s one of the very few examples, though. A much more sinister story involves the actions the CIA took after the defections of Russian biowarfare scientists (Pasechnik and Abelikov) to the US and Britain in the late 1980s/early 1990s. They exposed the massive Soviet biowarfare program, Biopreparat, to the world. The CIA ran several programs in the 1990s (Project Jefferson, Project Clear Vision) intended to replicate certain advances in those programs (including the preparation of powdered anthrax using the Soviet recipes). This may have been the actual source of the material used in the 2001 anthrax mailings, sent on 9/18/2001 to media outlets and 10/9/2001 to the US Congress. The coverup of these anthrax attacks by Robert Mueller and the FBI from 2002 onwards, the bogus prosecution of Hatfill, the false claims about Bruce Ivins, the refusal of Obama to reopen the case, etc – all reasons why Mueller is to my mind a most untrustworthy actor.
We can go on and on about their failings – Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, CIA and FBI spies, respectively, or Philip Agee, “Inside the Company” – at the end of the day, it seems that about 95% of CIA activity is criminal, dishonest, wasteful and generally useless. The other 5% amounts to tracking weapons of mass destruction and international terrorist groups – but even on the terrorism front, it seems that the CIA has as often sought to use them as proxy forces for regime change more than to impede their activities, as with ISIS in Syria.
Let’s also review what Hannah Arendt said about secret police and intelligence agencies in her invaluable work, “On the Origins of Totalitarianism” – when it comes to overthrowing democratic governments and installing dictatorships, these outfits always are in the front – whether it be the Gestapo on the right or the STASI on the left, they always lean towards authoritarian control of society.
Yes, as I recall it was claimed Frank Olsen jumped out the window and was covered up that he was pushed. And the anthrax case was pure evil meant to scare uninformed Americans witless.
The CIA was temporarily shut down, and prevented from their nefarious dealings for a few years around the times of the Church committee. They wanted Carter gone ’cause Stansfield Turner, his CIA head was watching them. That was when other European countries’ intelligence agencies took up the slack.
Microbiologists were making large batches of freeze-dried powdered forms of Bacillus spores from numerous species already back in the 1950’s. Borrowing technology from Russian defectors was hardly necessary for this operation, and it certainly didn’t have to be carried out in some government or university P4 facility. I had many grams of such preparations fully viable after 50 years in the deep freeze until I retired in the 2000’s and set them free. Bacillus anthracis is simply a strain of Bacillus cereus carrying a specific plasmid, and can be propagated, harvested and lyophilized in just the same easy simple way. As I said below, a motivated undergraduate work-study student could have provided the hands to do the job. So could a couple of rogue CIA operatives with just basic training in microbiology. Pasteur managed to not kill himself or his employees back when aseptic techniques were still being developed and he famously worked with the organism. The government just wanted the public to think that the danger presented originated from a highly nefarious and formidable foe, likely with connections to some foreign government, and not just someone like the kid next door studying microbial pathogenics.
Of the $80 billions that were just added to the Pentagon’s budget, some $40 billions will be going to profit making contractors.
In a just world, each citizen would be getting shares of stock in those companies, but as the author points out it will go to the one percent.
This story of privatized intelligence reminds me of the situation a century ago when the big corporations hired private ‘detective’ agencies to break up the growth of labor unions. The two biggest at that time was the Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detective agencies. They worked hand in glove with the Sate National Guards to suppress union organizing. The Ludlow massacre resulted after John D Rockefeller hired Baldwin-Felts to suppress unionization of a coal mine in Colorado.
During the New Deal these privatized intelligence and armed thugs arrangements were outlawed. So there is a precedent to possibly reverse our current situation.
Butch Cassidy: Who are those guys?
Butch is robbing Woodcock’s train for the second time]
Butch Cassidy: You can’t want to get blown up again.
Woodcock: Butch, you know that if it were my money, there is nobody that I would rather have steal it than you. But, you see, I am still in the employment of E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad!
Harriman is mentioned in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), as the commercial baron whose agents become the title characters’ nemeses. In the film’s second train robbery, a railroad employee ascribes his refusal to cooperate with the robbery to his obligations to Harriman personally, and one of Butch and Sundance’s intimates describes Harriman’s hiring of famed outlaw-hunters to track down the gang’s leaders.
The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made is a 1986 book by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas. It describes the actions of a group of U.S. government officials and members of the East Coast foreign policy Establishment. Starting in the immediate post-World War II period, the group developed the containment policy of dealing with the Communist bloc during the Cold War. They also helped to craft institutions and initiatives such as NATO, the World Bank, and the Marshall Plan. An updated edition of the book was released in 2012, as well as a “Quicklet” summary of the book.
You neglected to include the best line of all, spoken by the guy in the mail car that Butch & Sundance kept blowing up:
Butch: Whatever E.H.Harriman is payin’ you, it ain’t enough!
Consortium News is really kicking ass right now with these news articles you are pumping out. Your whole front page reads like an amazing truth sheet. I am quite sure that Robert Parry would be super proud of what you guys are doing now. Kind regard and big thanks for doing what you do for humanity.
I’ll second that Seth. Thanks…
There needs to be a justification for this statement. Frankly I do not believe the statement is correct. The US needs to integrate into a community of common destiny, not continue to go around the world establishing and protecting monopolies for its oligarchy and causing tensions and unwanted frictions. Who is he to speak to Russian interests anyway – they can and do speak for themselves.
Really getting sick of people treating “the democratic process” as if it i some kind of law of nature which will keep us all safe – look how well its done so far – 70+ years of continuous slaughter election – slaughter – election – slaughter. Western democracy is an utter failure its power spreading human mister across the planet.
Democracy is not some law of nature immutable and unchanging and until people stop treating it like it is they will continue to fail.
Western democracy is done it is a failure get over it.
The US has troops in 146 countries how many of those troop deployments did you approve of through any sort of democratic process? Probably no more than 20% of the population even know.
Oh, if we could only go back to the “democratic process” then we could vote and approve of starving the Yemeni people by the millions. After years of US slaughter, napalm, agent orange, night after bight on TV “the democratic process” produced Nixon and Kissinger.
This is the very attitude which underpins regime change – “democracy” is the best and only way. This kind of thinking is what perpetuates it.
Yes. Fake democracy plus fake capitalism produces a toxic mess that teaches and enables every sort of selfish, lawless, immoral, destructive human beings. Our problems run very deep, and it is the hollowing out and corruption of our characters that is what needs to be healed. Anything less than that is doomed to simply accelerate the inner collapse of our moral selves, leading to the collapse of our entire civilization.
Nice mike k, thanks.
Indeed, well said. Society and culture must stop rewarding psyco/socio pathological behavior. The most vicious, ruthless and uncaring are the ones with billions doing the slaughter without a second thought.
While that headline would have worked in 1947, I agree thoroughly with the author.
George Eliason has provided a brilliant analysis and raised several salient points:
“Because their jobs depend on contracts being won or lost, there was no longer a commitment to public service.”…yes, the privatization of government seems to have no limits
“If it looks like U.S. intelligence and the media networks are all working from the exact same narrative, it’s because they are. By using narrative builders the intelligence elite avoids information fratricide. This happens when there are opposing views to a given situation which neutralize the point you want to push.”… Yes, they start out with a faulty premise that feeds the interests of their benefactors.
“The sad fact is your innocence means as much to them as the pleas for mercy from the last “bad guy” they shot in a video game. For them, it’s only a game. You are a troll, not a human being.”…Yes, it is an indictment of a culture that has desensitized human suffering and sidelined education
Yes, the article points out the unique utility to the rich, of privatizing secret agencies to conceal corruption, secret wars for bribes, and the overthrow of the formerly democratic institutions of the US.
Yes Sam, the cannibalization of democratic institutions has been a major consequence…the competition for federal funding is fierce.
George Eliason using NASA as an illustration of stealthy privatization reminds me of when I learned that fact: In the wake of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, I was shocked to read that the whole program had been hollowed out and largely turned over to low-morale, low-motivation private contractors.
When that practice caught up with NASA, the consequences were visible as flaming wreckage in the Texas sky. The U.S. intelligence racket … I mean, “community” … has the luxury of being able to bury the inevitable results of its own decay under layers of secrecy.
Hey David, maybe we citizens should ‘outsource’ our legislators, and the rest of our government. Joe
Great idea but they already are to the merchants of death and their puppet masters on wall street;-) We should make them wear patches on their suits so we can tell who their sponsor are.
I like your idea better, let’s do it.
Sadly, Joe, thanks to the “revolving door”, the privatized legislators would probably be the same sorry lot we’ve got now – but at inflated, contractor salaries.
Even more sadly is that we are here at a time where all these privatized security firms under government contract could wrap a wire around our communities while we sleep…yes, I’m over the top, but seriously has anyone recently checked to see what war games, and simulation drills, are going on around you? These are some crazy times, forget about thinking your beyond your great grand parents of the 19th century and covered wagon attacks, he’ll that’s nothing to a traffic stop in police run Amerika.
I love this country, because of all the people in it, and not all of government is guilty of the issues we raise here, let’s make that clear. Think of the VIP’s and times that by any number you want when it comes to all the personnel in government, but then think of Rumfeld & Cheney’s Continuity of Government and where we still don’t know to where that leads us. It’s not even a plan on contingency it’s a directive to fascism style containment of the world, if done right.
That what I just described, whatever you call it, is what even sucks down the swamp, because it is the swamp…. now I ain’t no earth guy or nut’n, but I do believe one of the methods of draining the swamp is direct sunlight….so, we ‘the Consortium’ readers more than ever need to help to make the earth shine really, really brightly, if even just a little. I wish Richie Havens was here jamming with George, and oh gee why not John, I’d cue them to it… “Here Comes the Sun” you sing ‘little darling’…
I got blisters on my fingers.
A person can learn a lot by reading articles such as this one, by George Eliason.
I remember sitting at a conference table with a couple of lawyers who were up on current events the day after 911, and how our conversation went. Like everyone else at that time we had a hard time staying on message with our meeting, due to the tragic events of that terrible 911 day. Someone had brought up how Osama bin Laden wanted to hurt the U.S. financially. That’s when I said, a fool’s game, because an event as big as this one 911 would only create more whole new business ventures. Another person at our meeting then said, yeah like the security business will boom. Then there was a deadening silence, as suddenly we realized our civil liberties would most likely never be the same. Oh, we left our meeting on the note that if you didn’t have anything to hide, then you had nothing to worry about.
I’ve been reading George at OpEd News since the beginning of the coup in Ukraine. He lives there so he had a close up view of what took place. There were many times we were concerned for his safety. His reporting is like no one else’s I have come across. I’m so glad his articles are now available to the readers at Consortium News.
Thanks Lois, that’s good to know. Joe
This whole new business ventures and security business boom after 9/11 as you wrote above, and all these seventeen intelligence agencies, private contractors, private armies, Pentagon, Homeland Security . . . did the Government ever release the figures how much they are spending to keep the people in the country safe as they say. Sometimes, we read here and there in these articles that it is somewhere near 1.5 trillion dollars annually.
In early 1960’s, U.S. economy accounted for about 60% of manufactured goods in the World. Look at this new economy now, how different it is from the 60’s. And the Rulers in Washington are busy cutting down the social programs, and the public health sectors. With media in the control of the Ruling Power Structure, the brain washing of the public is so complete that there are not many voices left in the country to oppose it.
Dave I think the kind of regulated capitalism I grew up under is far different than the unhinged capitalistic we are living under today. The difference between the capitalistic system of then and now, is the greedy buggers make more. It wasn’t like they didn’t get rich in the old system Dave, it’s just another example that while on earth here some want it all. It isn’t as though these greedy movers and shakers consume it all either, because their waste only gets thrown away. Their also not a large major, but their wealth gives them all the majority they need to keep us all down on the farm, or better put they keep us all in check (NSA). Joe
I saw an excellent interview of Col. Wilkerson by Abbey Martin a while back, and he mentioned that the money from financialization now exceeds earned income wages. This is probably the single largest driver of income inequality. Abbey also asked him something like “how much is enough”, and his reply was that empire never has enough, they always want more.
Skip, this interview of Col. Wilkerson by Abby martin is one of the best I have watched in a very long while. If only it can be shown in every American High School, and in every American home. Thanks for the post.
Skip cool thanks. If I were to amass a blue ribbon panel of people whom I feel are being honest Col Wilkerson would be there if no others were even there among him. See you on another article. Joe
A logical consequence of the regime described by George Eliason, it seems to me, is that there’s probably a lot of people in Top Secret America (to borrow the title of Dana Priest’s WashPost series back in 2010) selling whatever they know or can get their hands on to a whole bunch of foreign intelligence agencies.
The glorified temp job culture described here would appear to be easy pickings for any spy competent enough to facilitate the exchange of information for money without getting caught.
There’s such a great show of outrage and grief about the so-called betrayals of Manning and Snowden, but of course the real spies don’t put what they’ve taken on the internet or give it to the media. It’s grimly amusing to think about how much more the inner circles of countries with serious intelligence operations (France, Israel, Russia, to start with) must know about what the U.S. government is really up to than do the citizenry it is supposedly accountable to.
one might add pakistan as the awan family certainly seems to have gotten a lot of the house of representatives’ data transmitted back home.
i hope their trial is a thorough and an honest one. currently debbie wasserman schultz’s brother is handling the case and that just doesn’t seem quite right. like when alvin k. hellerstein dismissed all the 9-11 families’ suits against, among others, the israeli corporations that screened passengers, companies defended by hellerstein’s israeli lawyer son’s law firm. they really don’t think that we’re watching, that we count, or that we can do anything about it.
The 3-part series sounds good. Here’s an old show about the ‘deep state’ or ‘permanent state’:
Judicial Watch Presents: ‘Exposing the Deep State’ | 9/15/2017
godenich – that was an excellent panel discussion. Thank you for posting that! These types of discussions are what CNN and others should be hosting every single night. Instead, they talk about Melania’s shoes. The woman panelist said:
“I think it’s very important to remember that it was Donald Trump himself who provoked the Deep State to expose itself. And we can see this when we look just at what we’re learning now about the outrageous efforts by the CIA, the FBI, the NSA to insert themselves into the Presidential campaign, into the political process in order to destroy his candidacy and presidency. I just have to wonder: why are they not under serious investigation; why is their continued survival not dependent on major reform and new transparency?
It is Trump who is imperiled, and this may explain his own state of disarray, which looks to many of his supporters sometimes as collapse. […]
Candidate Trump first provoked the Deep State into the open with a specific set of forbidden issues: immigration restriction and selectivity, including some block on Muslim immigration, nationalist trade and tariffs, an end to wars that are not fought over American core interests, and the restoration of American sovereignty.
We, the people, were never supposed to vote on these foundational issues of nationhood ever again. “Real” and “respectable” Presidential candidates never even mention them. These issues had essentially been taken from us by the powers that always seem to be – they were settled – and then along came Trump. So I think it’s this set of forbidden issues that offers also the most obvious clues to the ideological drivers of the state within the state that we sense, we see evidence of.
It shows itself to be fanatically globalist and anti-nationalist. It is interventionist. It favors mass immigration and even open borders. It supports free trade.”
Trump pulled the Deep State out of hiding, and we are now witnessing their lies and being bombarded with their propaganda. Jeff Sessions needs to get some serious investigations going to expose more.
Judicial Watch is doing a great job.
Couldn’t agree more, Back. It’s bizarre to see blatant criminal activity (leaks by Comey; contrived FISA requests; Stroyzd and Page texts; much more) with no arrests. One might say with what’s been brought to light through Trump, “Truth works in mysterious ways.” Let us do pray that is the case, and that Truth will win.
but the president started a department of justice inspector general’s investigation specifically covering the fbi’s investigation of hillary clinton’s private server, with no doubt permission to go where the evidence led. somewhat later he started one by the department of defense’s i.g.
in addition to the forbidden topics and policies he opened, he added the one state solution to palestine as policy approved by the u.s. that’s voting israeli citizenship for the palestinians living in the occupied territories, including gaza, potentially. he also recognized jerusalem as the capital of israel, something assiduously avoided by all other u.s. administrations.
he is also on record as saying the wtc was brought down by bombs on 9-11, not crashing, burning planes. also not part of the official story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt-ldMj9y9w
“The fish starts to smell from its head…”
It’s “our leaders”, who need to address this, it cannot be fixed from the bottom up…
Nor can the “leaders” be fixed, for they represent only the rich.
First thought comes to mind how Michael Chertoff went from “Homeland Security” to starting the selling of the TSA machines.
Speaking of, has anyone ever seen Michael Chertoff and John Podesta together in the same room? I swear they remind me of each other in looks.
Geeyp, I’ve been wanting to say the same thing about Brennen and Comey. Their mannerisms and way of talking make them seem like they came out of the same womb, maybe not identical twins but nevertheless twins. I saw a picture of them together looking at each other recently; they could have been looking in a mirror at themselves practically. Maybe they’re robots.
and dov zakheim is another case in point though he functioned on both private and public dimensions simultaneously. an israeli rabbi, dov was also the controller of the pentagon and, when donald rumsfeld announced on 9-10-01 that several trillion dollars were missing in action in the pentagon’s records, that was dov’s bailiwick. on the side he was also ceo of spc international, the company that sold “anti-hijacking” instruments to the airlines (yes the ones hijacked on 9-11) such that the planes could be controlled from the ground no matter what the people at the controls on the planes did. oddly not much attention has been paid to the fact that those instruments didn’t seem to work on 9-11.
or did they?
It’s going to be up to we the people to fix it. The leaders are not the solution, but part of the problem — they and “their” controllers.
Really appreciate this article; look forward to the series. I had no idea of the contractual intelligence work, though I should have because, of course, Snowden himself worked for Booz Allen & Hamilton. Like many here at CN, I’ve researched the deep state, the establishment, the illuminati; there are good videos by former intelligence people and whistleblowers on these integrated topics. Hope your series, Mr. Eliason, will spur more such research. We need to know. We need to be able to explain it to others.
Hello Virginia, how are you? I wanted to reply to your “twins” post; couldn’t though ’cause the reply was missing. Yes, I also look first to see if some of the reptilian aspects are showing!
Privatizing intelligence gathering and processing in a capitalist system of unchecked greed and corruption absolutely insures that such intelligence gathering will be aimed at making money, the most money possible, for the longest period of time possible, and the truth be damned, no matter the consequences to the planet. What’s so freaking hard to understand about how our unfettered unaccountable capitalist “system” works?
I agree with your comment Gary, and to add to it, I might remind everyone of how Carl Rove had said of how ‘we make our own realities in America’.
Exceptional work and much appreciated.
Please continue sharing the truth…
We are winning-:)