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Book Review – Spies for Hire The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing

Alex Constantine - May 31, 2008

" ... Shorrock profiles CACI’s leader, Jack London, who since news of the scandal broke, 'has treated Abu Ghraib as a public relations problem.' Over the past four years, CACI has sued or threatened to sue more than a dozen journalists because of their coverage of the Abu Ghraib scandal ... "

May 26, 2008

A Cunning and Conniving Adversary

Arlington County, Virginia, is home to a large number of government agencies and private companies involved in fighting the “the global war on terror” or “global struggle against violent extremism,” or whatever propaganda catchphrase politicos in Washington are using today to describe the U.S. government’s campaign to prop up its crumbling world empire. The Pentagon complex is the most notorious member of this group. Aside from the Pentagon, the Defense Department has many divisions housed in other office buildings scattered across Arlington, as do the CIA and other federal police and intelligence agencies.

The government outsourcing trend has gained momentum during the past 30 years, and Arlington has served as a popular location for many of these Beltway Bandits to set up shop, given its proximity to Washington. Many of these companies specialize in military and intelligence contracts. One of the best known Arlington-based contractors is CACI International, a company that has performed a variety of contract work for the U.S. military in Iraq, including providing intelligence analysis, background investigations, screenings and interrogation.

In his new book Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, Tim Shorrock takes a close look at CACI and how the company was brought into Iraq by the U.S. military to help with interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison. Shorrock notes in the book that CACI challenged the idea that its growth over the past five years came solely from its business in Iraq. The company said its Abu Ghraib contracts were less than one percent of total worldwide revenue, according to Shorrock.

“In that narrow context, therefore, the company was right: antiwar activists, journalists, and filmmakers critical of CACI have vastly underestimated its role in U.S. foreign policy and the war on terror,” Shorrock writes. “By focusing exclusively on CACI’s role at Abu Ghraib—abysmal as it was—journalists and antiwar activists have obscured a much larger picture: CACI is one of the world’s largest private intelligence services providers and deeply involved in classified black operations everywhere on the globe where U.S. military forces are active.”

Shorrock profiles CACI’s leader, Jack London, who since news of the scandal broke, “has treated Abu Ghraib as a public relations problem.” Over the past four years, CACI has sued or threatened to sue more than a dozen journalists because of their coverage of the Abu Ghraib scandal, according to Shorrock.

London, who relinquished his CEO title in 2007 but stayed on as chairman of the company’s board, embraces a political philosophy that “closely matched the imperial visions of Rumsfeld and the neocons he brought into the Pentagon,” Shorrock writes. “He stands out among his peers in the business of intelligence for his almost religious allegiance to the Bush-Cheney agenda of pre-emptive war and global military dominance.”

In the book, Shorrock shares a quote by London from 2006: “As the fight against terrorism and the Islamofascists continues, technologies will keep evolving to collect, analyze and disseminate vital intelligence to support the war fighter and the national security authorities.”

Shorrock says that London in 2002 came up with a “simpler way” to define the asymmetric warfare practiced by Palestinians and other Arab groups in their resistance to the United States and Israel: “Not fighting fair.” According to Shorrock, London said that “asymmetric warfare means facing a cunning and conniving adversary of inferior strength, who finds ways to exploit vulnerabilities to radical extreme, and frequently with frightening psychological effect.”

Arlington County is well known in Virginia for its liberal political tradition. Currently, all of the elected positions in the county are filled by Democrats.

In 2007, it was the all-Democratic Arlington County Board that honored London “for his personal contributions to Arlington and his leadership of CACI. Special appreciation was given for CACI’s assistance in planning for Arlington’s new National Defense Science and Technology Collaboration Center. The new center will be located near CACI’s headquarters in Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood.”

It probably surprised some county residents that its elected officials would honor the leader of a company whose financial well being is closely tied to the nation’s perpetual state of warfare. “Like George Bush, he [London] sees evil lurking throughout the developing world, where he points to a ‘rising environment’ of extremist individuals and organizations,” Shorrock writes.


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