SPIES FOR HIRE by Tim Shorrock


The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing
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Private corporations employing former high-ranking federal government and military officials are making huge profits from secret contracts with the CIA, NSA and various baronies in the Defense Department, avers freelance journalist Shorrock.

In his first book, the author penetrates the covert worlds of corporations with names like CACI International Inc., Mantech International and Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as government agencies spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars with no accountability. Dozens of previous titles have examined U.S. failures of information collection and analysis, especially leading up to and after 9/11. Shorrock excavates new dirt by focusing on the business of intelligence: the bottom line in dollars at the private corporations that win government contracts, often without competitive bidding or even public disclosure. The author does a remarkable job of learning as much as he can: gaining entry into conventions of defense contractors usually closed to journalists; sitting through the hearings of congressional committees whose members are regularly stonewalled by the government agencies they are supposed to oversee; reading through partially declassified documents. Peppered with acronyms, descriptions of highly technical hardware and hundreds of unfamiliar names both corporate and human, the book can be difficult to read, but Shorrock’s prose is lucid, his passionate brief for open government inspiring. Occasionally, he describes fiascoes already known to the public, such as the nasty interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib, that illuminate the shadowy role of private corporations performing highly profitable contracted duties once handled by government employees. Shorrock forcefully makes the case that only members of Congress, ostensibly accountable to the citizens who elected them, can halt the inefficiencies and occasional outright financial corruption emanating from the private contractor/intelligence agency nexus.

A sterling example of why investigative journalists are valuable during an era of deep, broad and unconscionable government secrecy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7432-8224-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2008


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