The Washington Post‘s Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Dana Priest drove another stake into the heart of the US military industrial complex in today’s Post:
In June, a stone carver from Manassas chiseled another perfect star into a marble wall at CIA headquarters, one of 22 for agency workers killed in the global war initiated by the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The intent of the memorial is to publicly honor the courage of those who died in the line of duty, but it also conceals a deeper story about government in the post-9/11 era: Eight of the 22 were not CIA officers at all. They were private contractors.
The Associated Press’ writeup of the Post story follows.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta are concerned about the role private contractors play in intelligence operations, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
In the second installment of a series about the sprawling U.S. intelligence apparatus, the Post estimated that nearly one-third of the 854,000 Americans with top-secret security clearances are private contractors.
Panetta told the Post he agrees that is a problem.
“For too long, we’ve depended on contractors to do the operational work that ought to be done” by CIA employees, Panetta said.
Panetta also said he was concerned that corporations owe more responsibility to their shareholders than to their country, “and that does present an inherent conflict.”
Gates agreed, telling the Post, “You want somebody who’s really in it for a career because they’re passionate about it and because they care about the country and not just because of the money.”
Gates and Panetta were interviewed during the Post’s two-year investigation into the mushrooming growth of U.S. intelligence and counterterror operations since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he believes “the report that came out today is relatively accurate.”
“The intelligence community continues to be very dependent on contractors,” he said on CBS’s “The Early Show.”
Hoekstra said too many contractors are doing work that “you would believe should inherently be done by government employees.”
“I don’t think they are compromising safety,” he said, “but I think it’s inherently a bad management practice. … I think it will change, but it will change very, very slowly.”
Source: AP News