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 have traditionally 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 explores how this partnership has led to wasteful spending and how it threatens to erode the privacy protections and congressional oversight that is so important to American democracy.