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Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Counterterrorism - Industrial Complex

Harper's on the growing counterterrorism-industrial complex:

Meet the Counterterrorism-Industrial Complex, by Ken Silverstein, Harper's: Last week I wrote about the steady flow of CIA employees to Blackwater USA, the private security contractor with major operations in Iraq. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times took a broader look at the revolving door between intelligence agencies and the private sector, and found that “...U.S. spy agencies have turned to unprecedented numbers of outside contractors to perform jobs once the domain of government-employed analysts and secret agents.”

For private contractors to hire intelligence officials is not a new phenomenon. Take a look at the board of directors of any major defense or homeland security contractor and you're likely to come across some familiar names. ... But the pace of the movement to private firms has recently reached alarming proportions. “At the CIA,” said the Los Angeles Times story, “poaching became such a problem that former Director Porter J. Goss had to warn several firms to stop recruiting employees in the agency cafeteria . . . .

One former senior CIA official told me that the implications of the “enhanced revolving door” are being felt in a broad variety of ways. “There are many people inside who aspire to work for a private contractor because—overnight—they can at least double their earnings,” he said. “It undermines morale and doesn't build a competent system. But the bigger story is that this is symptomatic of a new ‘counterterrorism-industrial complex’ that's popping up and that is starting to look a lot like Eisenhower's military-industrial complex. It's a multibillion dollar industry and it's beginning to drive policy.”

Eisenhower's Farewell Address on January 17, 1961 mentions the military-industrial complex for the first time publicly and warns about its growing political influence. According to Wikipedia:

In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term military-industrial-congressional complex, indicating the essential role that U.S. Congress plays in propagating the military industry. But, it is said, that the president chose to strike the word congressional in order to avoid offending members of the legislative branch of the federal government.

Here's the part of the Farewell Address where the term is used:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ... [W]e should, we must ... be alert to the ... danger that public policy could itself become ... captive...

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield...

    Posted by on Sunday, September 24, 2006 at 10:59 AM in Economics, Terrorism | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (10)

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