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.
"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
"Tim Shorrock is a digger, and he has penetrated a secret and fascinating world to write a telling and readable book." -- Evan Thomas, editor at large of Newsweek, author of Sea of Thunder
" A sterling example of why investigative journalists are valuable....A remarkable job." -- USA Today
"A disturbing overview of the intelligence community." -- The New York Times
"Valuable.... Contains some important, timely truths about the influx of private entrepreneurs into America's spy agencies." -- The Washington Post Book World
"A definitive book." -- The Nation
"Path-breaking.... Destined to be the gold standard on intelligence contracting." -- Asia Times
The first book to expose the massive outsourcing of top-secret U.S. intelligence activities in the wake of 9/11. Vital tasks traditionally performed by officials subject to Congressional oversight are now being contracted to companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, and Lockheed Martin--from NSA eavesdropping on the overseas phone calls of U.S. citizens, to tracking Al Queda operatives overseas, to interrogating prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Now in paperback, and with a new, updated Afterword, this acclaimed investigative report is the first to expose the massive outsourcing of top-secret intelligence activities in the wake of 9/11.
• A major story the government doesn’t want us to know about: Almost everything about the outsourcing of spying activities is classified. Shorrock lifts the veil off this disturb- ing story for the first time.
• Vital tasks outsourced: Running spy networks overseas, interrogating enemy prisoners, eavesdropping on phone calls, tracking al Qaeda operatives, analyzing intelligence— these vital tasks, traditionally performed by government, are now being outsourced to companies answerable to investors rather than to Congress.
• Authoritative: Shorrock has spent four years researching this new phenomenon, drawing on interviews, government documents, and industry contacts. He takes readers inside the intelligence contracting industry, which is worth more than $50 billion a year.
About the Author
Tim Shorrock is an independent investigative reporter who has been writing about the intersection of business and national security for more than twenty-five years. His work has appeared in The Nation, Harper’s, Salon.com, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He lives in Tahoma, California.