Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Robert Gates

The USA is multiplying “scalpel operations” in North Africa (Algeria), Pakistan, the new republics of the defunct Soviet Union and most of these operations are done by the CIA.  Scalpel operation is the alternative to hammer operation involving massive armed forces.   Twenty-two CIA agents died during operations since 2001; eight of them were hired by private security companies.  Actually, the USA is dealing with 533 more security private companies (in addition to the 1,400 companies before the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers).  This increase represents 265,000 private contractors (out of the 8854,00 with security clearances) who are siphoning one-third of the intelligence services budget. 

Defense minister, Robert Gates, is waging a war within his department and the Pentagon in order to reducing the spiraling expenses.  The plan is to reduce 100 billion in five years in budget by sending to pasture many of the  4-star Generals crowding the upper hierarchy.  There are 40 such high level officers and admirals, or more than during the peak of the Vietnam War.  For example, 5 4-star Generals are required to handle the emergency military crisis center 24 hours, 7 days a week, and located 8 meters below the Pentagon.  The reduction plan is also targeting the civilian personnel in the military command:  More than one thousand civilians have been hired in the last decade and they cost 25%  more than Federal employees.

The military and the hundreds of Federal security agencies rely heavily on private companies specializing in Satellite imaging, geo-spatial intelligence and transmission, surveillance, recognition, integrated technologies and imageries.  Private providers link the complex computers and communication systems and the analysis of coded intelligence.  The Office of Naval Intelligence at Suitland (MD) employes 2,770 personnel at its maritime (war and merchant ships) operational center.  It is the contribution of 70 private specialized enterprises that allow this institution to function:  They intercept, classify, and analyse communication (public and secret) sent and received by US navy and merchant marine around the oceans and seas.

The Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies, flushed with money, tend to purchase the latest and most sophisticated equipments without the proper trained manpower to mining their potentials.  In a sense, the construct the railway and then sit tight for the trains to arrive along with the customers.About 110 private companies (out of the 1,931) provide 90% of the work sub-contracted by the State. General Dynamic (GD) is one of these giants under whose shadow 1,814 smaller enterprises sub-contract security clearance required work.  General Dynamic generated 32 billion dollars in 2009, compared to 10 billion is 2000; its task force jumped from 43,000 to 92,000 within less than a decade.General Dynamic was into fabrication nuclear submarines in 2000 but changed strategy to follow the money sources; which means in security and intelligence services.

Another example is SGIS, founded by Hany Girgis in San Diego in 2002.  It was purchased this year by Salient Federal Solutions as it generated 100 million and expanded to hiring 675 employees scattered in 14 strategically located offices (around military and security agencies).  The problem is:  Suppose the employees of SGIS had clearance then, what about the long-range goals of the new owners?  Would they decide to market sensitive intelligence to the highest bidders?  For example, in General Dynamic offices in Herndon employees could monitor a truck in Afghanistan filmed by a camera attached to a drone.  Thus, it is like not only private employees  have clearances bu the company is given clearance and it can obtain pieces of intelligence directly in the same time as the security agencies.  CIA director Leon Panetta and Robert Gates expressed their worries of companies meddling in the general intelligence system (read: problems have already been witnessed.)

A high authority in the Senate overlooking military services declared:  “We have created a machine that escapes any control.  It is a living and breathing organism that has degenerated into a system for creating jobs.”

Cloudier than ever: Intelligence agencies in the USA. Part 2

In the previous post I described the various intelligence services clouding decision-making and becoming worse in efficiency since the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Additional 263 new secret service agencies were created since 2002 to the over one thousand services in existence, not counting the 2,000 private secret organizations supporting the intelligence endeavors.

It turned out that no coordination was instituted, which was the purpose of creating the 263 new agencies:  multiplied redundancy, confusion, rivalry among the agencies, and the siphoning of over 400 additional billions from 2002 to 2009 were the end results, so far.

The Congress still add 20 billion dollars each year for this behemoth of labyrinthine structure.  Cloudiness in responsibilities, unidentified delimitation in authority among the agencies, redundancy in gathering intelligence, and the impossible task of analyzing trillion of pieces of information are the norm.

The Washington Post undertook an investigation into the US intelligence agencies that lasted two years.  Twenty journalists were mobilized along with Dana Priest, twice awarded the Pulitzer on her investigative reporting in the secret prisons of the CIA and in the military hospital of Walter Reed where most of the injured soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving below standard health treatment.

The other renown journalist is William Arkin who served in the military intelligence for four years and is currently working with NGO, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

The ex-director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, declared: “We thought that if it was worth undertaking it then, it must be worth overdoing it.

The Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) increased from 7,500 employees to over 16,500 since 2002.  The budget of the National Security Agency (NSA) doubled.  The number of special units in the FBI jumped from 35 to 106 units.

Robert Gates, Defense minister who administer two third of all the secret agencies declared: “Things have developed so strangely that it is a real challenge to having any kind of idea of how security is functioning. Isn’t this formidable machine just too big for our needs?

Two of the highest officials of the “Super-Users” of the Pentagon’s programs admitted: “I cannot live long enough to nail down what’s going on.”

On his first briefing, one of the highest official was introduced into a tiny room to visualize the maze of a Powerpoint structure of the various agencies; he was not permitted to take notes.  General John Vines said: “The complexity of the (intelligence) system defies any description.”  CIA director, Leon Panetta is terribly worried: “The expenses are so huge that we will end up hitting a wall.”

In most agencies there is at least a room, some of them 4 times the size of a football field, called “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF)” that only top security people work in; they are the lowest paid and most valued employees: the “Analysts“.

The analysts are recruited from universities as they graduate; they have poor general knowledge, lack language proficiency in more than one, and are supposed to analyzing important intelligence pieces of people, culture, and languages they are not familiar with.

There are special officers in charge of the famous “Special Access Program (SAP)”.  James Clapper declared: “Maybe God can dispose of an overall visibility on the collection of the SAP.”  It is a recurring behavior for high officials using secret intelligence pieces to sidetrack rival officials. For example, an officer is ordered not to divulge certain intelligence to his superior, a 4-stars General.

A few of the created agencies are described.

1. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started its activities in january 2003 and is directed by the minister of internal security. Originally, this agency was to coordinate and develop a global national strategy to combatting “terrorism”.

2. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was created in 2004 with mission of figuring out how to putting order among the 16 agencies specially designed to intelligence gathering (good luck).  Congress didn’t vote on attaching any judiciary or budget to the ODNI.  Consequently, he cannot have any power on the other secret agencies that he was meant to control.  Before Negroponte assumed his activities, the ministry of Defense transferred billions of dollars from one budget into another and the CIA increased the level of security access to preventing this agency from accessing “sensitive” intelligence. When the ODNI started its activities in the spring of 2005, it had 11 employees. A year later, this agency occupied two floors of a building.  By 2008, it settled on the humongous Headquarter of Liberty Crossing.

3. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was created in August 2004 and depending on the Bureau of ODNI.

4. US Secret Services (USSS) depends on the minister of internal security with two main missions: fighting financial frauds and assuring the security of the President and the high dignitaries.

The USA has 860,000 people carrying top-secret clarification to access secret service agencies.

The US has 1,271 secret agencies and about 2,000 private societies working on secret programs for gathering and analyzing pieces of intelligence.

The bouquet that clouds everything are the 50,000 published reports per year, on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis by the various secret agencies.  How many top people in the hierarchy should be hired to exhaust reading all these “serious” reports?

Obviously, redundancy is the norm in these reports and the interesting information are mostly ignored by boredom, exhaustion, and self-sufficiency.

Secrets are not sacrosanct.  We prefer to keep them; that is true”; a sentence from John Le Carre in “A little town in Germany”




June 2023

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