The Continuing Privatization of Government Is A Grave Danger To Our Country

I've written numerous times, especially during the criminal Bush regime years, about the dangers of the privatization of government, that was a primary policy of Dubya's administration which was a disaster for this country. 

Unfortunately, it continues under the Obama administration.

We've seen the criminal consequences of the Pentagon and State Department's reliance on private mercenary companies and their complete lack of accountability.

Another area of concern is the almost complete takeover of government intelligence operations by private corporations, again with no accountability.

Glenn Greenwald recently shined a spotlight on this insidious, perilous practice when he wrote:

"In a political culture drowning in hidden conflicts of interests, exploitation of political office for profit, and a rapidly eroding wall separating the public and private spheres, Michael McConnell stands out as the perfect embodiment of all those afflictions.  Few people have blurred the line between public office and private profit more egregiously and shamelessly than he.  McConnell's behavior is the classic never-ending "revolving door" syndrome:  public officials serve private interests while in office and are then lavishly rewarded by those same interests once they leave.  He went from being head of the National Security Agency under Bush 41 and Clinton directly to Booz Allen, one of the nation's largest private intelligence contractors, then became Bush's Director of National Intelligence (DNI), then went back to Booz Allen, where he is now Executive Vice President.

"But that's the least of what makes McConnell such a perfect symbol for the legalized corruption that dominates Washington.  Tellingly, his overarching project while at Booz Allen and in public office was exactly the same:  the outsourcing of America's intelligence and surveillance functions (including domestic surveillance) to private corporations, where those activities are even more shielded than normal from all accountability and oversight and where they generate massive profit at the public expense.

"Then, as Bush's DNI, McConnell dramatically expanded the extent to which intelligence functions were outsourced to the same private industry that he long represented.  Worse, he became the leading spokesman for demanding full immunity for lawbreaking telecoms for their participation in Bush's illegal NSA programs -- in other words, he exploited "national security" claims and his position as DNI to win the dismissal of lawsuits against the very lawbreaking industry he represented as INSA Chairman, including, almost certainly, Booz Allen itself.  Having exploited his position as DNI to lavishly reward and protect the private intelligence industry, he then returns to its loving arms to receive from them lavish personal rewards of his own.

"In every way that matters, the separation between government and corporations is nonexistent, especially (though not only) when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State.  Indeed, so extreme is this overlap that even McConnell, when he was nominated to be Bush's DNI, told The New York Times that his ten years of working "outside the government," for Booz Allen, would not impede his ability to run the nation's intelligence functions.  That's because his Booz Allen work was indistinguishable from working for the Government, and therefore -- as he put it -- being at Booz Allen "has allowed me to stay focused on national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant. Therefore, in many respects, I never left."

"As the NSA scandal revealed, private telecom giants and other corporations now occupy the central role in carrying out the government's domestic surveillance and intelligence activities -- almost always in the dark, beyond the reach of oversight or the law.  As Tim Shorrock explained in his definitive 2007 Salon piece on the relationship between McConnell, Booz Allen, and the intelligence community, in which (to no avail) he urged Senate Democrats to examine these relationships before confirming McConnell as Bush's DNI

"Aside from the general dangers of vesting government power in private corporations -- this type of corporatism (control of government by corporations) was the hallmark of many of the worst tyrannies of the last century -- all of this is big business beyond what can be described.  The attacks of 9/11 exploded the already-huge and secret intelligence budget.  Shorrock estimates that "about 50 percent of this spending goes directly to private companies" and "spending on intelligence since 2002 is much higher than the total of $33 billion the Bush administration paid to Bechtel, Halliburton and other large corporations for reconstruction projects in Iraq."

When the security of our country is not in the hands of the government but in the hands of huge profit making private corporations feeding at the government/taxpayers' trough, enriching themselves by waste and fraud, cost plus contracts, and charging way hell of a lot more (to pay for their McConnell type employees) than it would cost if it were done by the government in-house (aka by less costly, experienced Civil Service professionals) with little or no accountability to the American people, then we're in deep trouble.

 

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