Synopses & Reviews
In Spies for Hire
, investigative reporter Tim Shorrock lifts the veil off a major story the government doesn't want us to know about -- the massive outsourcing of top secret intelligence activities to private-sector contractors.
Running spy networks overseas. Tracking down terrorists in the Middle East. Interrogating enemy prisoners. Analyzing data from spy satellites and intercepted phone calls. All of these are vital intelligence tasks that traditionally have been performed by government officials accountable to Congress and the American people. But that is no longer the case.
Starting during the Clinton administration, when intelligence budgets were cut drastically and privatization of government services became national policy, and expanding dramatically in the wake of 9/11, when the CIA and other agencies were frantically looking to hire analysts and linguists, the Intelligence Community has been relying more and more on corporations to perform sensitive tasks heretofore considered to be exclusively the work of federal employees. This outsourcing of intelligence activities is now a $50 billion-a-year business that consumes up to 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget. And it's a business that the government has tried hard to keep under wraps.
Drawing on interviews with key players in the Intelligence-Industrial Complex, contractors' annual reports and public filings with the government, and on-the-spot reporting from intelligence industry conferences and investor briefings, Spies for Hire provides the first behind-the-scenes look at this new way of spying. Shorrock shows how corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, CACI International, and IBM have become full partners with the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Pentagon in their most sensitive foreign and domestic operations. He explores how this partnership has led to wasteful spending and threatens to erode the privacy protections and congressional oversight so important to American democracy.
Shorrock exposes the kinds of spy work the private sector is doing, such as interrogating prisoners in Iraq, managing covert operations, and collaborating with the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' overseas phone calls and e-mails. And he casts light on a "shadow Intelligence Community" made up of former top intelligence officials who are now employed by companies that do this spy work, such as former CIA directors George Tenet and James Woolsey. Shorrock also traces the rise of Michael McConnell from his days as head of the NSA to being a top executive at Booz Allen Hamilton to returning to government as the nation's chief spymaster.
From CIA covert actions to NSA eavesdropping, from Abu Ghraib to Guantánamo, from the Pentagon's techno-driven war in Iraq to the coming global battles over information dominance and control of cyberspace, contractors are doing it all. Spies for Hire goes behind today's headlines to highlight how private corporations are aiding the growth of a new and frightening national surveillance state.
"Even James Bond is temping these days. According to investigative journalist Shorrock, the CIA and other intelligence agencies now have more contractors working for them than they do spies of their own. Often former staff hired back at double or triple their former government salaries, these private contractors do everything from fighting in Afghanistan to interrogating prisoners, aiming spy satellites and supervising secret agents. Shorrock gives a comprehensive at times eye-glazing rundown of the players in the industry, and his book is valuable for its detailed panorama of 21st-century intelligence work. He uncovers serious abuses contractor CACI International figured prominently in the Abu Ghraib outrages and nagging concerns about corrupt ties between intelligence officials and private corporations, industry lobbying for a national surveillance state, the withering of the intelligence agencies' in-house capacities and the displacement of an ethos of public service by a profit motive. However, the bulk of the outsourcing Shorrock unearths is rather pedestrian, involving the management of mundane IT systems and various administrative services, and this expos insinuates more skullduggery than it demonstrates." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Tim Shorrock's well-researched and convincing book reveals how the intelligence community now subcontracts out most of its work -- 70 percent -- to private-sector companies that inevitably have their own agendas, which may or may not accord with the national interest. By laying out very specifically how all this works, Shorrock has provided a very important service to the country." -- Burton Hersh, author of The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA
"Spies for Hire is an excellent roadmap to the daunting new terrain of U.S. intelligence, in which the explosive growth of intelligence contracting threatens to overwhelm any possibility of independent oversight. In this groundbreaking work, Tim Shorrock explores who has benefitted, who has paid, and why it matters to us all." -- Steven Aftergood, Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists
"Tim Shorrock is walking, and mapping, a startling fault line of these crazy days: the way government is outsourcing its most basic functions at a time of peril. Replacing public service with private transactions -- often shadowy and unaccountable -- is what helped bring down Rome. Without fierce scrutiny, and the kind of sharp-eyed disclosures this book provides, it can bring down America. A must read." -- Ron Suskind, author of The One Percent Doctrine
Shorrock exposes the massive outsourcing of top-secret intelligence activities in the wake of 9/11, tasks traditionally performed by the government that are now being outsourced to the private sector.