August 31, 2012

The hidden world of private security contractors in USA

The hidden world of of the Security and Surveillance Industrial complex has attracted the attention of big media in US.

The most complete and updated source of information on this is the Washington Post special investigation website Top Secret America where maps , interactive features and and updated articles explore the hidden business of Security in America.

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

The investigation's other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
The Department of Defence is the authority in charge to oversee those companies but it has declared recently that is overwhelmed by the amount of private companies to control and is unable to keep an eye on all their activities.
According to Democracy Now over 1/3 of USA surveillance and enforcement operations are conducted by private contractors, the surveillance grid established by the National Security Agency intercepts every 24 hours over 1.7 billion personal communications in US only.
E-mails, phone calls, SMS, internet postings all are recorded and disseminated to a wide range of private and public agencies for analysis.
Data is not provided only to big names as Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, L-3 Communications, Csc, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Blackwater, Saic, but also to a myriad of small and medium businesses which represents 70% of the industry, most of them employ less than 100 employee and are in charge of background checks, fiscal checks, phone and internet wiretapping and data analysis.
It is not only the National Security Agency or police and other governmental agencies contracting their services, more and more private companies such as corporation, banks are contracting their services for employee checks and other intelligence purposes.
Ho safe we are that public data is not being used for private interests? We are unable to say it at this stage given the lack of supervision and tracking of the information.

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