Round and Round They Go


Earlier this week, CorpWatch published a fascinating article by investigative journalist Tim Shorrock on a new and rapidly growing side of the military-industrial complex: space-age, technology-driven intelligence capabilities. The article centers on Steven Cambone, a former high-raking official in the U.S. Department of Defense now turned defense contractor, and how he personifies the world of high tech intelligence gathering where the distinctions between private industry and government are increasingly virtual.

Cambone has been a longtime associate of Donald Rumsfeld , under whose tenure he served as the Pentagon’s top intelligence officer. In March 2003, he became the first Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. It was in this role that he and Rumsfeld succeeded at transforming the Pentagon’s acquisitions away from the traditional large weapon systems like aircraft carriers "and radically increased its purchases of space-age war technologies such as communication systems, sensors, robots, low-flying satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles," Shorrock writes. When Rumsfeld stepped down in late 2006, Cambone followed soon after. He landed as vice president for strategy with QinetiQ North America, a British-owned, defense-intelligence contractor that specializes in just the type of whiz-bang gadgets and systems he and Rumsfeld placed in the Pentagon’s shopping cart.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy and editor of the blog Secrecy News, calls Cambone’s hiring at QinetiQ the result of the "incestuous" relationship between former government officials and private intelligence contractors. "It’s unseemly, and what’s worse is that it has become normal," as quoted in the CorpWatch article. "The intelligence community and the contractors are so tightly intertwined at the leadership level that their interests, practically speaking, are identical." And since QinetiQ is in the business of providing the tools Cambone placed the orders for, "this is a match made in heaven," Shorrock writes.

And last week we see that Cambone has already earned his salary. On January 7th, QinetiQ announced it had signed a $30 million contract to provide "security services" to the Pentagon’s Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office. As the article says, Cambone "helped create the very office that issued the contract." QinetiQ’s website is headed by the statement "Aligning our expertise with government needs." That sounds backwards to me. "Aligning government needs to their expertise" is more like it.

Be sure to check out their illustrative cartoon.

Check out the QinetiQ Group profile in the Center for Responsive Politics’ Lobbying Database you’ll find that the corporation has dramatically increased its lobbying expenditures to meet the opportunity over the past couple of years.