Who's taking care of our national security—our nation's defense, military operations, homeland security, and intelligence? There's the Department of Defense, the U.S. Armed Forces, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the "intelligence community" of agencies led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But since Sept. 11 national security has been increasingly outsourced.
Industry involvement in national security is nothing new. It became such a pervasive and influential part of national security operations in World War II and the onset of the Cold War that President Dwight Eisenhower gave it a name: "military-industrial complex."
But that's no longer an accurate description of government/industry collaboration in shaping national security.
Since Sept. 11 a new government/industry complex has emerged—one that brings together all aspects of national security. Its formation and explosive growth are the product of three interrelated trends: 1) increased outsourcing to private contractors unleashed by the Bush administration, 2) a surge in the intelligence budget, and 3) the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
While governmental functions are divided into departmental responsibilities, the various dimensions of post-Sept. 11 national security operations are more integrated in industry.
Who are the top homeland security contractors, the top intelligence contractors, the top military contractors? The top 10 DHS contractors in 2008 were Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, IBM, L-3 Communications, Unisys, SAIC, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, General Electric, and Accenture. Other corporations that are among the top 25 DHS contractors include General Dynamics, Fluor, Computer Sciences Corp., American Eurocopter, Electronic Data Systems, and Motorola.
Who are the top intelligence contractors? There is no public list of corporations that perform work for the intelligence community. Tim Shorrock in his new book Spies for Hire reports that based on company releases and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission the top five intelligence contractors are likely: Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, SAIC, General Dynamics, and L-3 Communications. Other major intelligence contractors include Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, DRS Technologies, and Mantech International.
As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and a key member of the House Appropriations Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) exercises oversight and control over the ballooning intelligence budget. The former Border Patrol chief of the El Paso sector, Reyes was elected to Congress in 1997 and has since ingratiated himself with contractors for all three sectors of national security—homeland security, military, and intelligence. These contractors—including Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Boeing, L-3 Communications, General Dynamics, and Northrup Grumman—now dominate his growing lists of corporate campaign contributors.
Since Sept. 11, 2001 the 16 agencies that comprise the intelligence community along with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have experienced two main trends: a doubling of the intelligence budget and a rapid increase in private outsourcing.
Within the past eight years the intelligence budget has soared, rising from an estimated $30 billion at the turn of the century to an estimated $66.5 billion today. Just as the White House and Congress have cooperated to ramp up the intelligence budgets, the intelligence community has channeled most of the new funding to private intelligence contractors, both major companies like CACI and individual contractors. An estimated 70% of the intelligence budget now is channeled to the private sector.
Who are the top defense contractors? The top 10 are: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, BAE Systems, L-3 Communications, United Technologies, KBR, and SAIC. Others within the top 25 include Computer Sciences Corp., General Electric, ITT, Electronic Data Systems, DRS Technologies, Textron, Honeywell, and Booz Allen Hamiliton.
Generally, the top military contractors, like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman, are also the top intelligence and homeland security contractors. The military-industrial complex has become the military/homeland security/intelligence complex.
In his farewell address in 1960 President Eisenhower warned:
"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."
Now we have what might be more accurately termed a national security complex where intelligence, defense, and homeland security are closely linked and integrated—and more and more in the hands of the private sector.
Tom Barry is a senior foreign policy analyst with the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC.