Tags: NSA | contractors | intelligence | campaign

NSA Defenders Protecting Their Own Wallets

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 07:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The mainstream news media is proving oddly reluctant to mention possible financial motives in their coverage of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance story. With very few exceptions, those who publicly defend domestic spying also make money from it.

We know NSA contractors make big money. Even the relatively low-level Edward Snowden had a six-figure salary. Top executives at his company and others are no doubt paid millions. Many are retired military "consultants" or revolving-door politicians.

Journalists once felt obligated to disclose such conflicts so readers and viewers could judge each source's credibility. Since they rarely do so anymore, here are a few examples:

Michael Hayden, usually described simply as a retired general and former NSA director, is presently a paid representative of the Chertoff Group. This mysterious "homeland security consultancy" is best known for convincing Congress to spend untold billions on airport body scanners and other high-tech privacy invasion devices.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairs of the House Intelligence Committee. Public filings show he has received over $600,000 in campaign contributions from defense electronics companies.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., is ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee. Not coincidentally, his district includes NSA headquarters at Fort Meade and hundreds of contractor offices nearby. He was instrumental in pushing through the 2012 Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Businesses including AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ) and Intel (INTC) lobbied heavily in favor of CISPA.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., loudly defends the NSA from her chair at the Senate Intelligence Committee. She is on that committee because her husband's financial entanglements with defense contractors practically forced her from the Senate Armed Services committee. As senator from California, she also represents the Silicon Valley technology executives enriched by intelligence projects.

Jeff Bezos is CEO of Amazon (AMZN), which has a $600 million contract to build a new CIA data center in Virginia. He also just bought The Washington Post newspaper. Will The Post continue its aggressive coverage now that its owner is a key intelligence community supplier?

House Members: In late July, the House narrowly voted down a spending bill amendment that would have restricted NSA activities. The 217 NSA-supporting members received an average $41,635 from defense and intelligence firms — 122 percent more than "no" voters.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently told CBS News that domestic surveillance is "great" and "essential." Of course, he likes it; government contracts helped make him one of the world's wealthiest men. Now, with the revelation that Oracle's products probably include NSA back doors, Ellison is in a tough spot.

Gen. Keith Alexander, current NSA director, reportedly plans to retire in 2014. Will he walk straight into a lucrative "consulting" career? Maybe national security journalists or members of Congress should ask him.

Clearly, there is a lot we don't know about the government's surveillance activity. Defenders say NSA intercepts helped foil several terrorist plots. With most of the information still secret, we can't know for sure.

What we can know for sure is that the NSA has an enormous budget, much of which goes to private contractors, and those contractors include some very wealthy people who use their money to buy influence on Capitol Hill.

Why doesn't the media talk about these connections? I have one guess.

I think they're afraid to ask.

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PatrickWatson
The mainstream news media is proving oddly reluctant to mention possible financial motives in their coverage of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance story. With very few exceptions, those who publicly defend domestic spying also make money from it.
NSA,contractors,intelligence,campaign
553
2013-36-21
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 07:36 AM
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