Salon Radio: Tim Shorrock

The "Spies for Hire" author explains why outsourcing America's intelligence activities is a very bad idea.

Topics: Washington, D.C.,

(updated below)

Chalmers Johnson recently called investigative reporter Tim Shorrock “the leading authority” on the rapidly growing privatization of the Government’s surveillance and national security functions. Shorrock has a new book on the topic — Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing — and I spoke with him today regarding:

  • the magnitude of the Government’s outsourcing of surveillance and intelligence activities (70% of the federal intelligence budget (roughly $45-50 billion annually) now goes to private corporations to perform National Security State functions);
  • the ways in which the distinction between the Government and private sector have completely eroded when it comes to the National Security State;
  • the dangers and implications of privatizing America’s surveillance and defense activities, including the extraordinary power these corporations acquire (often superior to government itself) and the shield from oversight and accountability they enjoy;
  • the multiple conflicts of interest that arise from turning over the most sensitive and dangerous government functions to private industry; and


  • the reasons why the Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, formerly of Booz Allen, embodies all of these conflicts and dangers.

The topic in which Shorrock has developed such extensive expertise — this virtually limitless public-private national security consortium — is one of the most consequential, though under-discussed, developments in our country.

On a different note, the transcript for the prior interview, with David Sirota, is now available here. Thanks to those here who have been haranguing me about the absolute need for transcripts to accompany these discussions, I have now arranged for transcripts to be prepared and available (usually) on the same day that the podcasts are posted (today’s transcript should be posted later today or tomorrow, but from now on, an accompanying transcript will almost always be available on the same day as the podcast — hopefully, more or less simultaneously with its posting). A demanding readership is the mother of invention.

UPDATE: The transcript of this discussion is here.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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