New Appointees To Congressional Oversight Committees Have Deep Ties To Military/Industrial Contractors And The CIA

from the what-if-they-gave-a-war-and-nobody-wanted-to-end-it? dept

There are several reasons why the US government’s War on Terror will never end, but every one of them traces back to two prime motivators: money and power. They’re inseparable, as are the interests that almost always conflict but almost always get overlooked as the Congressional revolving door spins.

If you want a war — possibly even a CYBERwar — you’ll get one. The oversight committees that are charged with keeping the NSA and others in line are actually acting as filters. Those on the committees pick and choose what’s passed on to other Congress and Senate members. In addition, the oversight has been further compromised by recent additions whose employment histories indicate there will be continued expansion of government powers in the future.

Lee Fang of The Intercept has a rundown of the new oversight committee members. To no one’s surprise, they have ties to government contractors and secretive government agencies.

In January, Jeffrey Shockey became the most powerful staffer on the House Intelligence Committee after Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., named him staff director, the highest ranking staff assignment. Shockey has gone in and out of lobbying and congressional work for over two decades

Shockey’s ties to an appropriations scandal, in which he helped obtain $150 million in contracts for his military-industrial clients via improper earmarks, hasn’t prevented him from taking a seat at the intelligence table, where his decisions can alter the flow of funding to and from intelligence agencies. His former clients — and there are a lot of them — stand to benefit from any expansion of surveillance programs or newly-approved offensive cyberweaponry. Over the course of his lobbying career, Shockey has represented Academi (formerly Blackwater), General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and a handful of closely-related corporations.

Rep. Bill Hurd — a newcomer — has scored a choice seat at the head of the brand new House Oversight Committee for technology. How fortuitous.

Before running for office, Hurd worked in offensive cyberoperations as a CIA officer, joined the Crumpton Group, a private intelligence firm led by a former CIA official, and later helped build a cybersecurity company called FusionX.

It’s not just the NSA and CIA that stand to benefit from appointees who empathize deeply with the work the agencies do, as well as the private companies that help them get it done. The DHS is also honing its synergy by appointing former Chertoff Group senior associate Jena Baker McNeill as Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Homeland Security committee. The Chertoff Group was founded by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. McNeill’s appointment keeps DHS control “in the family,” so to speak.

A lot of entities — both inside and outside the government — have grown accustomed to running a well-funded war machine. They’re in no hurry to give it up. If the Snowden leaks ever result in serious surveillance reforms, the shift to Plan B (cybersecurity) will ensure no one goes hungry. The players may change periodically but the underlying interests will continue to be well-protected by company men (and women) and intelligence insiders.

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Comments on “New Appointees To Congressional Oversight Committees Have Deep Ties To Military/Industrial Contractors And The CIA”

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36 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At which point a new ‘enemy’ would be found so that the money keeps flowing, and the power stays with those who bought it. The ones so enamored with the ‘war on terror’ have no interest whatsoever of actually ‘winning’ it, as that could decrease their profits and power. If one ‘threat’ is dealt with, they will always find or create another in order to justify the perpetual ‘war’.

jameshogg says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Saudi oligarchs are not our friends, and I am aware it is a huge problem.

But bear this in mind: the Saudi’s were strongly opposed to the U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2003 because they wanted to maintain an oil duopoly with Saddamn Hussein. Now that this duopoly has been shattered, and the Saudis now have to work harder to manipulate oil prices, I am quite glad that in this instance the U.S. did not cave into Saudi realpolitik for ONCE. It also gives me the chance to laugh at the fools with “no blood for oil” placards – they did not and still do not have any idea what they are talking about. Keeping all of Iraq’s oil with a 1984-esque totalitarian regime is practically calling FOR war.

Had the Saudi’s had their way with the U.S., Saddam Hussein’s regime would have imploded plus the bloody Syrian civil war plus ISIS. It would have turned the state into a killing field worse than the Khmer Rouge or the Congo. And would have sucked in unjust interventions from Turkey (to keep a harder iron fist over the Kurds), Iran (via Shia proxies) and of course Saudi Arabia for the Sunni proxies and oil goldmines. You just need to look at the way Saudi Arabia are causing unjust sectarian bombings in Yemen of all places right now to know this theory would have been credible. A bombing that at this very moment is being horribly UNDER-reported and shrugged off by long-ago-discredited “anti”-war folk – they sure pick odd times to give no fucks about true unjust wars.

The U.S. is not always at the knee of the Saudis, and we should be grateful for those rare circumstances (2003 Saddam toppling) where we stand up to them.

jameshogg says:

Re: Re: Re:

If by “what we’re doing” you mean how little we are doing to resist them yes it is making them stronger. Though I will not having it said that fighting fascism is the cause of fascism. Al Qaeda are quite happy to applaud the U.S. when it callously and criminally gives Indonesia weapons to commit genocidal invasions on East Timor on the grounds that is a long lost holy Muslim land – Al Qaeda do not bomb random innocent civilians across the planet on those grounds, you can be sure. In fact, it bombs random innocents across the planet when East Timor independence is strengthened, not weakened.

Islamofascism is NOT a liberation ideology of any kind. And I find it disgraceful how we’ll snicker at so-called ironies of “American liberation” before we’ll long consider the mantra of this vile reactionary religious theocracy being in any fucking way for freedom and liberty. They consider women as slaves and wish to revive slavery on the modern world. They want to butcher homosexuals and throw the off cliffs. They possess a vile racism in the form of antisemitism and many other ethnic hatreds, and act on it. They want to blow up cartoonists for even suggesting to criticise them. They wish to torture and commit genocide against long surviving religious minorities – including that of other Muslims, who are supposedly their allies according to the minds of tits like Michael Moore – across the world.

What part of this is in any way a fucking liberation movement?

I wish we would grow up about this. Instead of portraying the U.S. as being the root cause of all evil of history while laughably accusing THEM of inventing boogeymen. INVENTING? The last I saw this fascist movement really does exist and really does mean harm to everybody whether the U.S. exists or not.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m not sure why you’re going on about a liberation ideology. I never said it was, nor did I say the US is the root of all evil in the world.

I only said that the US is engaging in a war footing for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with Islamofascism (or any other -ism). If the US manages somehow to destroy the ideology it has deemed worth going to was over, then it will choose a new ideology to go to war over. What the US wants is perpetual war. I don’t think it cares that much what the war is about.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem is not religion anything…. war criminals and terrorists are warring on the united states and the united nations along with others. They mailed the declarations around. They told everybody their doing it then they follow through. If they avoided war crimes and read any part of the un resolutions on the subject they would have avoided a brewing shitstorm.

If you’re stuck in war… try to follow the law of war and if they are caught deathlisting more children they will get the appropriate response from the united Nations.

Seriously… war criminals with military apparatus are deathlisting children. That is a huge part of our never ending war on terror.

Anonymous Coward says:

Losing

There are several reasons why the US government’s War on Terror will never end…

CIA Director: We’re Winning the War on Terror, But It Will Never End”, by Micah Zenko, Council on Foreign Relations (blog), April 8, 2015

Last night, Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan participated in a question-and-answer session at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. . . .

To summarize, the war on terrorism is working, compared to inaction or other policies. But, the American people should expect it to continue for millennia . . . .

According to the current leadership, there is no prospect that the war will ever end on terms favorable for the United States.

That’s not winning. That’s losing.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Losing

There is a way to end the war on terror(ism). Stop being afraid.

Now if we could only get the government to stop spewing the ‘terrorist’ threat, we might have a chance.

Of course, the whole money and power thing is still in the way. Thank you’s to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court as just one of many, many, many horrible decisions by our government.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Citizens United [was Losing]

Still haven’t. But it is interesting that you point to a dissension rather than something that explains the result.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC

And the results are that this decision says that corporations have the right to spend money on elections. Corporations that have a whole lot more money than you or I. Corporations are given the same rights as a natural persons. Corporations that may be foreign controlled, or have interests that are not the same as the electorate.

Horrible, horrible decision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Citizens United [was Losing]

You’ve never actually read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United, have you?

Still haven’t. But it is interesting that you point to a …

The link goes to a copy of the Supreme Court’s 2010 opinion.

In the United States, the Article III federal courts decide cases and controversies.

The practical result of any federal court decision, first, foremost, and by constitutional command—the practical result establishes the legal relations between the parties before the court, in the context of a concrete dispute.

You really should read the Supreme Court’s 2010 opinion before condemning it.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Citizens United [was Losing]

One does not need to read the actual ruling to understand that with all their twisting and bending and prejudicial opinions (politically influenced) of ‘what the founders meant’ in a language meant to obfuscate the true meaning from the common person, the court has said that some entity with money is allowed to speak louder than someone without money, and that is just not right.

I would have had more respect for them if they had stood up for the people and said money in politics is illegal. But they didn’t, and in doing so they made it much harder to get to the position that money in politics should be illegal.

You must be a lawyer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Citizens United [was Losing]

One does not need to read the actual ruling to understand…

“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
          ——James Madison (letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822)

I understand that you will not listen to the court’s reasoning before allowing your ignorance and prejudice to form your own personal judgement.

I do not understand, though, why I should respect your ignorance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Citizens United [was Losing]

You call it reasoning, I call them excuses, either way they are mere hyperbole.

Their conclusion is wrong. Dead wrong.

You may wish to continue to live in your rarefied world where you are either fiscally or politically motivated to not understand something, so be it. Enjoy.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Also from the good Mr. Madison...

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

So, tell me in plain simpleton I-am-totally-not-a-lawyer english why it is right for the nation and the people that those with more money than my entire voting bloc combined should get better access to our representatives than I do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Also from the good Mr. Madison...

… those with more money than my entire voting bloc combined…

Even in colonial days, it would’ve been a pretty impoverished bloc who couldn’t organize themselves—to scrape up enough for a printing press, ink and paper.

The American courts, of course, have never proclaimed that a mogul fortunate enough to command a movie studio necessarily must get better first amendment rights than some schmuck with a YouTube channel. Never. In fact, they have repeatedly said otherwise. Repeatedly.

The romantic lonely pamphleteer, though, while legally on the same footing as the head of a media empire, really does need to organize for political impact in today’s world. Organize. That’s the real-world law: Organize—if you want your voices heard. Was true in the 18th century. True in the 19th century. Certainly true in the 20th century. Every reason to believe that it’ll still hold true in the 21st century. Organize.

‘Course, whenever a political organization hits hard enough to get somewhere, it is always likely that entrenched interests will try to outlaw your organization. Remember Joe Hill.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Also from the good Mr. Madison...

Except that money directly facilitates organization.

We’re not talking the small-potatoes kinds of cash that gets your pamphlet printed or even the donuts that bring a crowd to the protest, but the kind of money that gets your message listened to by our representatives.

If you don’t have a considerable amount of cash to help a man finance his political career — one hundred times or more what I make in a year — you don’t get acknowledged.

Organization without that money, as we’ve seen in recent affairs like Ferguson, just gets your volunteers shot with rubber bullets (steel encased in rubberized plastic) and gets your entire neighborhood teargassed.

The American courts may get to claim that the lone pamphleteer is on equal footing with a Hollywood mogul, but they know that’s a lie. They know the mogul is regarded as a citizen and the pamphleteer is marked as a terrorist without a violent thought in his head.

And you appear not to recognize just how disparate our wealth is in the US, when single individuals can claim to have more assets than the populations of states. With that kind of imbalance of power, how can our nation be anything but feudal?

Anonymous Coward says:

it seems reasonably obvious that the USA doesn’t want anyone from the outside entering the country or anyone already in the country to leave, so why not just do the same as happened in East Germany and just put a bloody great wall all around the borders and a giant see-through dome over it with fans to draw the bad air (and there will be a lot!) out and try to suck some good air (that hasn’t been tainted by climate change, of course, as it isn’t happening!) in and just become completely self-sufficient, leaving the rest of the planet to go about it’s merry way as it chooses? at least then anything and everything, good and/or bad can only be from within, somewhere, and no one else need to be blamed or any the wiser anyway?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: with respect to degree of tyranny and state controlled culture

I think at this point we’ve exceeded the USSR generally. We’re certainly approaching the levels of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Soviet Union.

When it comes to crimes against humanity, weve exceeded them both in cruelty and ruthlessness if not in numbers. We’re only one step away from a Endlösung der Judenfrage. We may have a systematic genocide program already in place.

So the comparison implied by Amerika gives the United States the benefit of the doubt.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: with respect to degree of tyranny and state controlled culture

I think the really important lesson here is in the response by the public – or rather the near complete lack of response.

If you ever wondered how the German Corporate Party could have risen from German politics to rule the country and try and rule the world, the situation in America is an excellent petri dish example of just how much the public can be fooled and kept in a state of blissful ignorance, by a corporate controlled government bent on profit and social engineering.

And the Pretend National Socialist Party; the German Fascists, had nothing like the technology and capital now available to the American Billionaires Club, so the chances of America pulling its ashes out of the fire before insolvency, is remote.

I would estimate not one in a ten thousand Americans can read the writing on the wall – or rather, wants to read the writing on the wall – and probably less than 1% of those willing to read that writing, actually comprehend what is taking place, or how their American Dream has been legally re-assigned for the Rich – and in many cases Non-Americans – only.

Its a lesson that humans seem to never learn, and likely the most important lesson that civilization offers.

Even here on TechDirt, I can see this unwillingness to accept the reality that stares America in the face.

Only weeks ago, the head of the NSA admitted to being allowed to rewrite the Constitution due to 9/11, yet everyone keeps stating how nearly every action by police, and by all government agents, that enters the discussion arena here is contrary to the Constitution.

It appears that absolutely no-one is willing to believe that the US constitution has been rewritten and that what it once stood for has been altered completely – even after the deed has been admitted to, or perhaps I should say, bragged about.

Fascism is always a winning business model, but only for the players and the whole scheme depends entirely on the unwillingness of the victims to admit that their leaders are leading them into the ovens.

The public, especially one that reveres its own cultural mythology, such as Americans do, is like the frog in the pot of ever hotter water, who never moves and eventually dies without a clue that it was in danger.

I can’t see the American Public faring any better than every other nation that has collapsed due to the misinformation, cronyism and economic liquidation of fascism.

However, the members of the American Billionaires Club, very likely stand to pull of the greatest heist and win the biggest haul in the history of the human race.

As always, I hope I am wrong.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: I think we're going to go the way of Rome on this one.

Where we devote more and more to our huge army so that no-one can oppose us…until we can’t afford to do so any more and still have roads and Social Security.

And then every lean and hungry barbarian horde in the world is going to look greedily upon a defenseless America.

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