Monday, October 23, 2006

Snips from 1996: Where did the money go?

Orbit of Influence: Spy Finance and the Black Budget
By Robert Dreyfuss


a congressional investigation revealed that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), a supersecret agency whose existence was publicly acknowledged only a few years ago, lost track of a $2 billion slush fund because it was so highly classified even top intelligence officials had no control over it.


Only a select handful of legislators and their staff members are privy to the intelligence appropriations process. In this cozy, cloistered world the members are the frequent beneficiaries of donations from--and frequent targets of lobbying by--intelligence contractors. Both within the intelligence bureaucracy and congressional oversight committees, staffers routinely work hand in glove with industry lobbyists, often in the explicit hope that "playing ball" with the contractors will pave the way for private employment down the road.


Some of these companies are familiar; some are known only to insiders. The biggest ones, who build and maintain the costly satellites and other systems, can be counted on one's fingers: Lockheed Martin, TRW, Rockwell, Hughes, Boeing, E-Systems, General Dynamics, and McDonnell Douglas. John Pike, a Federation of American Scientists analyst who has studied the U.S. intelligence-industrial complex, marvels at the scope of their presence. Standing over a table and pointing at a map, Pike highlights the contractors scattered around Westpark, in Tysons Corner, Virginia, just down the road from CIA headquarters. "Here's TRW, Unisys, and Wang," he says. "And over here is PRC, Honeywell, GTE Spacenet, MCI, BDM, Data General, PSI, and MITRE Corp."

It's not just this geographic clustering that gives these companies an in with the intelligence bureaucracy. Driving through the same area with a former CIA officer offers a sense of how close the agencies and contractors have become: "Right over here, in that building, is where I went to get training in intelligence tradecraft," he says, pointing to one of the odd-looking unmarked build ings around the Westpark-Westgate complex. These companies, in other words, do not merely supply the intelligence community with equipment; they have become its surrogate support system.


Before becoming CIA director, John Deutch, a chemist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who had been appointed to a number of U.S. intelligence advisory boards, served on the board or a corporate committee for a wide range of defense and intelligence contractors. They included Martin Marietta, TRW, United Technologies, the MITRE Corporation, and SAIC, where he was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was enough money that upon taking his Pentagon job in 1993, Deutch, like Defense Secretary William Perry, had to receive a special conflict-of-interest waiver from then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin.

Perry's involvement with the industry also spans the decades. Thirty years ago Perry, a mathematician, built a company called ESL Inc., which was a pioneer in software technology for spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping equipment. In 1978 Perry sold ESL Inc. to TRW, which is today a major NRO contractor. Around that time, Perry won for himself the nickname "Godfather of Stealth," for his role in advancing the work on the radar-evading technology while he served as chief of the Pentagon's research and engineering work.

There is much more here: Orbit of Influence: Spy Finance and the Black Budget

An Adobe Acrobat file from Boeing detailing connections between themselves, Mitre Corporation, SAIC, and Booz, Allen and Hamilton can be viewed here.

Also see Echelon Corporations Involved in the Intelligence Business


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker