Revelations of snooping into private data and communications on a massive scale by the Obama administration has shed a little daylight on the widespread and lucrative links between American intelligence agencies, industry and academia.
The Pentagon has long funded research into new technology, to the extent that it is claimed that Silicon Valley would not have developed without this revenue stream. The CIA formed its own non-profit private enterprise, In-Q-Tel, in 1999, specialising in advancing the development of technology for collecting and analysing information, which continues to back nearly 60 companies to this day.
The practice of the US government using business soared after the 9/11 attacks, with thousands like the whistleblower Edward Snowden recruited for George W. Bush’s War on Terror. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in Washington estimated recently that almost one in four people working in the espionage field were in the pay of private concerns and no less than 70 per cent of the intelligence budget went to companies like Mr Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton.
An ODNI briefing paper stated that the philosophy had become: “We Can’t Spy … If We Can’t Buy!” By 2010 about 1,930 private companies worked on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence at more than 10,000 sites across the country.