Tuesday, June 11, 2013

All your government surveillance is privatized

As I said in the previous post, we're having the wrong arguments about domestic surveillance. All the chatter is about Snowden and Obama and Bush. What's being lost in the noise is talking about the policy. The bigger scandal than the surveillance is that the surveillance is being contracted out to private corporations. Take for instance Snowden's last employer from whence he apparently hacked his documents, Booz Allen Hamilton.
The company employs about 25,000 people, almost half of whom hold top secret security clearances, providing “access to information that would cause ‘exceptionally grave damage’ to national security if disclosed to the public,” according to a company securities filing.

In January, Booz Allen announced that it was starting work on a new contract worth perhaps as much as $5.6 billion over five years to provide intelligence analysis services to the Defense Department. Under the deal, Booz Allen employees are being assigned to help military and national security policy makers, the company said…
Think Progress points out Booz Allen Hamilton is just one of many contractors.
According to a 2013 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a total of 483,263 contractors held Top Secret clearances in 2012, the highest level one can obtain, with another 582,524 holding them at the Confidential and Secret levels.
Think about that for a moment. How many more young and possibly delusional computer geeks might there be lurking in corporate cubicles with no accountability to the taxpayer at all? Some of those guys might be accessing your personal internet communications, not because they have to, but because they can.

Beyond that, it's not even cost effective. It's a myth that the private sector can deliver public services at a lesser cost. Private industry is profit driven, above all else. Atrios is right when he says "the security/surveillance state industry is just a giant grift, a big scam there to enrich certain communities in Northern Virginia."

Of course surveillance is just one area of government being run by and enriching private industry. Military contractors like whatever Blackwater is being called right now for foreign security forces and Halliburton for military support services are also sucking billions out of our national treasury for services the government could provide at a much lesser cost. It's not just the grift, it's the graft. These corporations are cheating us and even if they get caught cooking the books, or outright stealing, nothing happens to them. They still get paid and they get their contracts renewed forever. That's at the heart of the "small government" scam.

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