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Commentary :: Globalization
The Black Forest
22 Aug 2012
There is no way to have a nation in today's world without various intelligence agencies handling a variety of issues from domestic security to detecting and anticipating international threats. We need people secretly watching the people that are secretly watching us. There are no two ways around it, and really every nation does, as just because you aren't, that doesn't mean other people won't, and unfortunately it probably means they will take it as a sign of a free meal with your nation being the special of the day. Humans just haven't evolved beyond the need to take by force the belongings of their neighbors, and those that have are waiting for the rest of the world to catch up, but have to be ready to fend off attacks in the interim.
THEBLACKFOREST.jpg
The level of secrecy required for those working at an intelligence services, is something that's entrusted to those that serve in such capacities. It's not just a duty, but an honor and a privilege and should be taken as such. We, as members of this great nation, need people to watch our backs and we need for those people to be law abiding and trustworthy. Unfortunately, that trust can be misplaced, and when it comes to things done with little to no oversight and increasingly large budgets, the temptations to cheat the system for one's own enrichment can grow like an invasive species.

Sure, when an undercover or covert operative is given money in an assumed role, say as an arms trader, drug dealer, rogue agent, etc, it would be very easy for them to say to say they were given one amount when in fact they were given much more. It has happened in cases of normal undercover police officers, that they have skimmed in such ways. Unfortunately, it is well known certain police officers extort money from drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, etc under the threat that if they don't, those offenders will be thrown in jail.

It has even happened where police officers or detectives have provided information to members of organized crime families in exchange for money. These things we know about and that's because they have been caught and the incidents have been brought to light. When it comes to regular police there are systems in place for accountability and oversight and things are made public and prosecuted under the heat of the spotlights of the public arena.

These organizations have fixed budgets and they are known about, and when money goes missing or is diverted, we have many ways of finding out. We even have citizen oversight boards.

But what if there were no public spotlight on those working intelligence and/or undercover operations? What if when money was stolen or extorted from those government agencies, there was really no group for the problem to be reported to? What if there were two separate budgets for organizations in charge of such operations, creating two sets of records essentially? What would we have? What if the people writing the rules for such organizations ran the operations themselves, like the people that freeze pensions and health benefits in large corporations claiming they can't afford it, in order to afford giving themselves bonuses, pensions, golden parachutes and extended health benefits? (http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/info-09-2011/ellen-schultz-...)

Would there be the temptation to take that money? Would there be the temptation to just double or even triple their salaries? Would there be the temptation to play two sides of the fence or more as they would be the ones writing up the explanations for such activities, and as they had the last word plus were in the right spot to do so, just say, "it's completely what this country needs right now for the safety and security of this great nation?"

Our intelligence services here in the US are in such a position. As citizens we are constantly complaining about government waste, abuse, mismanagement, pork barrel spending, corruption, etc. We become angry when we hear of these things, and that's because it's our tax dollars being spent. We should be getting angry when they are wasted. Part of the anger over the dual wars we are just drawing down from, though still forced to spend billions on annually, was that because of the Bush administration's greedy wishes to get Halliburton and defense contractors a whole gang of cash, we invaded oil rich Iraq and took our eye off of the country where the threat to our nation actually existed.

We were incensed they would use our tax dollars to enrich themselves and their buddies. It was the most blatant example of corruption in our government anyone had seen until that point, as it ended up allowing billions of tax dollars to be spent to enrich a tiny few. The next of course being the huge bailouts of the financial sector. What few Americans knew was that it didn't stop there.

In 1949 Congress passed the CIA Act of 1949, signed into law by President Harry Truman. The law allowed the CIA to take funds from the accounts of any other government agency without restriction, and transfer those funds to their own accounts. These transfers were to be considered classified so no one would know about this. The money would be there one day, and simply vanish the next. Government accountants got blamed for ineptitude and new ones came in to potentially have to go through it themselves - eventually. (http://www1.american.edu/salla/Articles/BB-CIA.htm ) (http://www.foia.cia.gov/txt/Annual_Report_2007.pdf )

These funds are separate from those allowed by the budgets that are on record allocated to various intelligence agencies within our government including those within the various branches of the military. They're known as black budgets because they are used by the black ops community for operations we may never know about. This is distressing as it gives certain government agencies the ability to take whatever amounts of taxpayer cash they want, without having to be held accountable for any infringements on the trust of the public they are being handed.

We already know when people are given unlimited amounts of money they are prone to becoming corrupt and to finding ways to skim. Who is to say this is being checked? Like the CEO's and upper level managers at wealthy corporations stealing pension money that was set aside into accounts for workers by rerouting it into their own coffers through various means, they can do as they please and it will be unchecked. Would we trust any other agency on just their say so? "You don't need to check on us. That carte blanche you're giving us, it's fine. We won't do anything bad." Public officials are always getting caught with their hands in the till, whether for home repairs, golf course memberships, flights, free meal or hundreds to thousands of dollars, and these guys won't?

What if public officials were setting themselves up for business using our funds then taking contacts, information and training with them and forcing us to either lose those things or pay them double or triple to get them back via hiring a private firm they set up to do the work they used to do as public employees? Would we be okay paying that double and triple cost? It's our hard earned dollars right? With most law enforcement agencies they really can't do too much of that, as it's out in the open and easy for them to be found out.

It is happening in the world of intelligence, however. People get hired to work for an intelligence agency and get training paid for by you and me, gather information and intelligence paid for by you and me, make contacts on our dime, then quit and open up private intelligence or private security firms and come back and force us to pay them double or triple the amount for the same job under the threat that if we don't we have to start all over with someone new. And the money dished out to these firms and how it's spent? Classified. That falls under the purview of the CIA Act of 1949.

In fact "At the CIA, poaching became such a problem that former Director Porter J. Goss had to warn several firms to stop recruiting employees in the agency cafeteria, according to former officials familiar with the matter. One recently retired case officer said he had been approached twice while in line for coffee.

"'It's like sharks in the water,' said the officer, an overseas veteran who has handled assignments in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. 'As soon as the word went around that I was leaving, my e-mail in-box was pinging. People were calling me at home.'" (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/17/nation/na-contractors17) It has become a free for all - a place for foxes to sneak through the fences protecting the farm. (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/01/intel_contractors/) (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121502690) We don't even have the ability to know when jobs are simply cooked up and millions are spent surveilling people that are no threat with the people surveilling knowing it full and well. We have no idea when they're simply creaming the job, because they can just say, "that's classified" to our faces and then laugh about it at the Brown Derby afterwards on our dime, before heading home to their McMansion in their luxury sedan with nouveau riche written all over it, with license plates reading "THNKLADEN."

As reported in Salon.com, "U.S. intelligence budgets are classified, and all discussions about them in Congress are held in secret. Much of the information, however, is available to intelligence contractors, who are at liberty to lobby members of Congress about the budgets, potentially skewing policy in favor of the contractors. For example, Science Applications International Corp., one of the nation's largest intelligence contractors, spent $1,330,000 in their congressional lobbying efforts in 2006, which included a focus on the intelligence and defense budgets, according to records filed with the Senate's Office of Public Records.

"The public, of course, is completely excluded from these discussions. 'It's not like a debate when someone loses,' said (Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists and an expert on the U.S. intelligence budget). 'There is no debate. And the more work that migrates to the private sector, the less effective congressional oversight is going to be."' From that secretive process, he added, 'there's only a short distance to the Duke Cunninghams of the world and the corruption of the process in the interest of private corporations.' In March 2006, Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, R-Calif., who had resigned from Congress several months earlier, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of accepting more than $2 million in bribes from executives with MZM, a prominent San Diego defense contractor. In return for the bribes, Cunningham used his position on the House appropriations and intelligence committees to win tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts for MZM at the CIA and the Pentagon's CIFA office, which has been criticized by Congress for spying on American citizens. The MZM case deepened earlier this month when Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo, the former deputy director of the CIA, was indicted for conspiring with former MZM CEO Brent Wilkes to steer contracts toward the company." (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/01/intel_contractors/)

These firms not only work for our government's intelligence services, but for intelligence agencies of foreign nations simultaneously. (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/09/sb-revolving-door-blackwater-1158...) (http://www.alternet.org/world/87200/)

We are being fleeced by thieves hiding in the thickets of what has become a black forest where people learn to be at the top of the food chain by being best at cheating the system and breaking all the rules, not through serving those living outside the forest, but in service of hoarding fleeced treasure in their own little pocket of undergrowth. (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14963) It has become a stain on the map of those supposedly serving our nation's public. If we are not careful, soon our stars and stripes will be covered by black smudges and black handprints, making it unrecognizable from what it once was.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
See also:
http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com

This work is in the public domain
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