WASHINGTON - Right now, Washington is all in a tizzy over the mushrooming disclosures that the U.S. government, through the National Security Agency, snooped and spied on millions of Americans, their phone calls, and their Internet interactions, allegedly looking for connections to "terrorists."
But let's put in an extra fact: NSA itself wasn't doing the snooping and spying. It contracted the task out to private corporations. So let's put those firms and their contracts under a little surveillance of our own, to see who's getting rich off our tax dollars, and off of prying into our private lives.
Only 23 percent of Americans, says a new Reuters poll, consider former National Security Agency contract employee Edward Snowden a "traitor" for blowing the whistle on the federal government's massive surveillance of the nation's telecom system. Many Americans, the poll data suggest, clearly find the idea of government agents snooping through their phone calls and emails a good bit unnerving.
But the 29-year-old Snowden wasn't working for NSA. He was working for Booz, Allen Hamilton, which was working for NSA.
These surveillance contracts, in turn, make contractor executives exceedingly rich. And none have profited personally more than the power suits who run Booz Allen Hamilton and the private equity Carlyle Group.