'IT/Management Consulting' (±x)
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This post is about an excellent article At Booz Allen, a Vast U.S. Spy Operation, Run for Private Profit written by Matthew Rosenberg which appeared in the New York Times on 07 October 2016. I have been ‘working at the carwash’ since 1993, and Matthew’s article is the most accurate that I have ever seen.
It really does happen like this and with 90% civilians (more like 95% after friends of friends get involved to meet tough deadlines) there are so many issues in which the wrong corners are cut, usually in the wrong way and at the wrong time 🙂
My comments, arising from direct experience of working for different parties, are interspersed in block capitals between paragraphs…
At Booz Allen, a Vast U.S. Spy Operation, Run for Private Profit
WASHINGTON — In the six weeks since federal agents raided a suburban Maryland home and arrested Harold T. Martin III on suspicion of stealing classified information from the National Security Agency, another organization has quietly prepared to face the fallout: Booz Allen Hamilton, Mr. Martin’s employer.
Booz Allen, a consulting firm that earns billions of dollars by working for American intelligence agencies, has been called the world’s most profitable spy organization. News this week of Mr. Martin’s arrest in August could renew scrutiny of the firm’s operations and, more broadly, the lucrative contracting business that American intelligence now relies on to run its vast, global surveillance operations.
“GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE IS WHERE MOST MONEY IS MADE. I AM AN EXPERT IN THIS AREA AND CONSEQUENTLY RHODIUM IS ALWAYS PROFITABLE :)”
“SURVEILLANCE CAN BECOME ADDICTIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU CAN ALWAYS SPEND MORE MONEY SPYING ON ‘PARTIES OF INTEREST’ AND BUY BETTER HARDWARE AND MORE BANDWIDTH. IT’S NOT A 9-5 JOB EITHER AND SHIRT/TIES ARE NOT REQUIRED :)”
“LAST WEEK I HAD A TEAM FROM THE NETHERLANDS, LINKED TO EUROPOL HACKING MY SYSTEMS IN SRI LANKA – THIS IS SAD AS IDENTIFYING THE PERPETRATORS IS EASY. NOTHING IS HERE FOR REASONS OBVIOUS ENOUGH, THOUGH THEIR LOGS MAKE INTERESTING READING :)”
Mr. Martin’s arrest is the second time in three years that a Booz Allen contractor has been accused of stealing potentially damaging material from the N.S.A. The company also employed Edward J. Snowden, who spirited out a cache of documents that, in 2013, exposed the extent of American surveillance programs in the United States and around the world.
“IT’S EASY TO BE ACCUSED OF NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUES, IF YOU ARE ACTUALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING. HOWEVER, YOU DON’T GO AND ARREST EVERY LOCKSMITH BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE ‘ABILITY’ TO OPEN CAR DOORS :)”
Booz Allen is one of a handful of defense and intelligence contractors that blur the line between the government’s intelligence work and private enterprise.
“FIFTY SHADES OF GREY”
Tens of thousands of contractors are believed to work for American intelligence agencies (the exact number is not known). They do everything from helping secure the military against cyberattacks and plan intelligence operations, to training spies and running war games for NATO generals.
“I WAS LAST INFORMED IN 2014 THAT THE FIGURE WAS APPROACHING 100,000 BECAUSE OF SUB-SUB-CONTRACTORS :)”
“What most people don’t realize is just the sheer scale of the intelligence work force that is outsourced,” said Peter W. Singer, a national security expert at New America, a think tank in Washington. “There will be meetings, and less than 10 percent of the people there are official U.S. government employees as opposed to contractors.”
“I HAVE ALWAYS MADE MONEY FROM OUTSOURCING AND RHODIUM HAS ALWAYS DONE IT BUT WE OBFUSCATE ALL ENTITIES (CONTRACTORS, CLIENTS, SUPPLIERS, BANKS, SPECIAL PURPOSE VEHICLES, TECHNOLOGY) BY NAME CHANGES – THIS MAINTAINS PROJECT SECURITY. AS SUCH IF INVESTIGATORS LOOK FOR SPECIFIC STRUCTURES THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FIND THEM.”
“‘IT/MANAGEMENT CONSULTING’ IS THE HARMLESS DESCRIPTION PLACED ONTO [NON]-TAX INVOICES FOR CLANDESTINE WORK.”
Firms like Booz Allen provide a ready and potentially lucrative option for federal employees who are looking to cash in on their government experience.
“MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND” – THE EXPERIENCE IS UNIQUE AND THE SELF-DISCIPLINE AND FOCUS GAINED FROM 1993 ONWARDS DEFINES ME AS A NO-NONSENSE INDIVIDUAL WHO DOESN’T CARE WHAT FOOLS THINK :)”
Booz Allen, founded in 1914, has done especially well at building its government business. Its clients include every branch of the military and a long list of intelligence organizations, from the N.S.A. to lesser-known outfits, such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is essentially a high-tech mapping operation. Overseas, Booz Allen has helped the United Arab Emirates build its own high-tech spy agency.
The director of national intelligence during the George W. Bush administration, Mike McConnell, was an executive at Booz Allen; President Obama’s director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., worked for the firm before returning to government to oversee the nation’s spy agencies.
In its last fiscal year, which ended in March, Booz Allen earned $3.9 billion — about three quarters of its total revenue — from its defense and intelligence business. Once its work for other parts of the government is factored in, Booz Allen’s government contracting accounted for 97 percent of its revenue.
“I CAN EASILY UNDERSTAND HOW FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE”
But as the two thefts have made clear, employing large numbers of contractors brings security risks, though experts point out that there have been many leaks in recent years that came from government employees, as well.
“THAT IS THE SAD PART – YOU HAVE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE GREEDY AND MESS UP THE WHOLE THING BY STEALING STUFF. CAN’T PEOPLE JUST ENJOY THE MONEY AND KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT?”
Booz Allen weathered the Snowden leaks, and it was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Air Force. It has so far had little to say about the Martin case, issuing a brief statement on Wednesday saying it had fired Mr. Martin and was cooperating with the investigation.
Unlike Mr. Snowden, some officials have said, Mr. Martin does not appear to have leaked any of the information he is suspected of stealing, which is believed to be highly classified computer code.
“STEALING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION HAPPENS ALL THE TIME WHEN THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT SELF-DISCIPLINED. IT IS COMPLETELY WRONG AND AS AN ARCHITECT I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE COPY AND/OR STEAL ANY OF MY OWN STUFF. EDWARD SNOWDEN MAY HAVE HAD BALLS BUT HE STILL BROKE THE LAW – 18 U.S.C. 541/793 IS CRYSTAL CLEAR.”
But the problem for Booz Allen is that at least some of the documents alleged to have been found in Mr. Martin’s possession date to 2014. That would call into question the effectiveness of reforms aimed at safeguarding the nation’s secrets announced in the wake of the Snowden affair.
“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT HAROLD MARTIN BUT I DID KNEW A GUY CALLED JAMES MARTIN IN THE 1990S AND HE CONFIRMED THAT DOCUMENTS GET PLANTED ALL THE TIME JUST TO CREATE FAKE PROBABLE CAUSE TO ACCESS EVEN MORE INFORMATION.”
“SOUNDS FAMILIAR TO WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN LATE 2015!”
“We have been and will continue to assess the proper role of contract employees in the intelligence community, many of whom play a vital role,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “We must be careful not to overcorrect or to draw the wrong lessons. This issue is fundamentally about preventing and detecting insider threats, both from contractors like Edward Snowden and this individual, and from government employees.”
“GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE”
The leak in 2013 of the materials stolen by Mr. Snowden prompted calls from Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, then the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for contractors like Booz Allen to lose their access to highly sensitive intelligence. The Obama administration, meanwhile, tightened security measures at intelligence agencies, and slashed the number of employees with access to classified information by 17 percent.
“I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LOSE INTERNAL SECURITY CLEARANCES SIMPLY BECAUSE OF LYING AUSTRALIAN FRAUDSTERS IN FEBRYUARY 2014 WHO PERJURED THEIR WAY THROUGH SECURITY OF COSTS HEARINGS AND EVERYTHING ELSE!”
“BUT IRONICALLY, THANKS TO THE EVENTS OF FEBRUARY 2014 WHICH TRIGGERED SPECIFIC CLAUSES, I HAVE LOST CONTROL AND KNOWLEDGE OF VARIOUS ASSETS AND/OR ASSET-HOLDING STRUCTURES – A [VEXATIOUS] MAREVA INJUNCTION AGAINST ME WILL HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON THE GOOD STUFF :)”
“FOOLS LOOKING FOR ‘OFFICIAL‘ SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR ME WILL NEVER FIND ANY, OBVIOUSLY, BUT THAT HAS NO BEARING ON EITHER THE COMPLEXITY OR VERACITY OF MY WORK.”
The role of contractors has grown since the 1990s, when they were seen as a way to save money, and accelerated in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“I DID SAY 1993 FROM THE OUTSET, ONCE AGAIN FROM DIRECT EXPERIENCE”
Proponents of using contractors say they allow the government to quickly bring in people with technical expertise, and allow government agencies to get around staffing and budgetary constraints set by Congress.
“TECHNICAL EXPERTISE AND SPEED IS THE OVER-RIDING REASON – THERE IS NO RED TAPE AND ACCELERATED DECISION MAKING BENEFITS EVERYONE, IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PERSONNEL. CLEVER PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS IN DEMAND, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DON’T SQUEAL WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WRONG :)”
A glaring example of how contractors are used to get around staffing limits can be seen in Afghanistan. There, the Obama administration has set a hard limit on the number of troops that can be deployed — it currently stands at 9,800. The Defense Department and State Department have, as a result, brought in thousands of contractors to do everything from serve food to analyze secret intelligence. There are currently believed to be about six contractors for every American government employee in Afghanistan.
“IN COUNTRIES SUCH AS IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN THIS HAS ALL GONE WRONG, AND CONTRACTORS THINK THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW AND GO AROUND SHOOTING PEOPLE!”
At the same time, the use of contractors has often failed to deliver on the promised savings. Critics also say that shifting sensitive work into the hands of private businesses, which are not subject to same disclosure rules as federal agencies, often limits the ability of Congress to provide oversight.
“AS WITH ANY BUSINESS, THE PEOPLE AT THE TOP MAKE THE DECISIONS. WHEN YOU HAVE POOR DECISION-MAKERS THEN THE ORGANISATION WILL SUFFER FOR IT. “
“‘UNLAWFUL’ HAS A DIFFERENT MEANING WHEN THE WORDS ‘MILITARY’ AND ‘MONEY’ ARE INVOLVED.” – JSR DS
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