G4S and Serco: Taxpayers overcharged by tens of millions over electronic tagging

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has asked the Serious Fraud Office to investigate security firm G4S after a review found the Government had been overcharged by tens of millions of pounds in its electronic tagging contract.

A review has found G4S and rival security company Serco both over-billed the taxpayer for running the tagging schemes, in what the minister said was a “wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs”.

It included charging the government for tagging offenders who had died, been returned to prison, left the country or who had never been put on the tagging scheme in the first place, Mr Grayling told the House of Commons.

Ministry of Justice sources said although they typically had 15,000 offenders on a tag at any one time G4S and Serco had been charging them for 18,000 – meaning one in six was spurious.

It also emerged civil servants first became aware of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take appropriate action – and Mr Grayling said some may now face disciplinary action.

“I am angry at what has happened and am determined to put it right,” said Mr Grayling.
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“This has included instances where our suppliers were not in fact providing electronic monitoring.

“It included charges for people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place but who had instead been returned to court.

“There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died.

“In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.

“The House will share my view that this is a wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs.

Mr Grayling said he expected MPs would share his “astonishment” that two of the government’s two biggest contractors would behave in such a way.

He added: “The audit team is at present confirming its calculations but the current estimate is that the sums involved are significant, and run into the low tens of millions in total, for both companies, since the contracts commenced in 2005.

“It may date back as far as the previous contracts let in 1999.”

Serco has agreed with a Ministry of Justice proposal for a further investigation, and allow inspection of its internal emails.

But G4S, which was widely criticised for its failure to fulfil security requirements at last year’s Olympics, has rejected that proposal, said Mr Grayling.

“I should state that I have no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier,” he told MPs.

“But given the nature of the findings of the audit work that has taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received, I am today asking the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened in G4S, and to confirm to me whether any of the actions of anyone in that company represent more than a contractual breach.”

Mr Grayling first launched an investigation into G4S and Serco in May after an internal audit uncovered a “significant anomaly” in the billing process.

The Ministry of Justice brought in external auditors to find out how much the two companies have incorrectly claimed from the taxpayer, which uncovered the remarkable details announced by Mr Grayling to the Commons.

He said: “I am making changes in my department because it is quite clear that the management of these contracts has been wholly inadequate.

“Enough knowledge came into the department to find out about these issues some years ago but it was not acted upon.

“Proceedings are likely to include, or may well include, disciplinary proceedings to establish precisely what did go wrong.”

Spending on electronic tagging has run to £700 million since G4S and Serco were handed the contracts.

Mr Grayling said no-one had been put in danger and the problem was purely to do with the billing arrangements. The contracts were awarded by the Labour government in 2004 and are ministers are currently going through a process to re-allocate the work.

Serco has pulled out of the bidding process but Mr Grayling said he was “disappointed that G4S still feel it appropriate to participate”.
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
12:40PM BST 11 Jul 2013

Find this story at 11 July 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

 

Olympic gaffe security company in bid to print money: G4S teams up with French firm for £1bn tender G4S has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals

The shambolic Olympic security firm G4S is bidding for the right to print Britain’s banknotes, it emerged last night.

The embattled group has teamed up with a French company to try to get its hands on the lucrative £1billion contract.

Currently the work is done by the British firm De La Rue, which was first commissioned to print UK banknotes at the outbreak of the First World War.

G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract

Now G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract.

It has joined forces with France’s Oberthur Technologies, which would take control of the printing process itself.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has called for the company to be blacklisted from future taxpayer contracts, demanded G4S pull out of the bidding.

He said: ‘G4s have failed the public on numerous occasions.

‘At a recent public meeting Jon Shaw, a G4S director, agreed with the Home Affairs Select Committee that companies that fail to deliver on public contracts should be on a high risk register.

The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues. The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall

‘In light of this they should withdraw their application for this important contract until they have got their house in order.’

Before 2003 the Bank of England managed its own banknote printing.

In 2003 the Bank gave the work to De La Rue, which has held the contract for ten years.

Now it is has put the job out to tender.

The winning company will be responsible for printing notes from 2015 to 2025, with the possibility of extending the work even further to 2028.

But even if G4S and its Franco partner win, they will have to print the notes in the UK.

Any successful company can only print the notes using the Bank’s secure printing works in Debden in the Epping Forest.

From there the notes are taken securely to the Bank’s cash distribution centres around the country.

The Bank has issued paper banknotes ever since the central bank was created in 1694 as a way of raising money for King William III’s war against France.

But now it is planning to issue plastic notes, which can survive a spin in the washing machine.

Polymer banknotes, as well as being hard to fake, are durable and stay cleaner for longer because the material is more resistant to dirt and moisture.

Whichever firm wins the contract will have to be able to produce them as well as paper notes, the Bank has said.

Current provider De La Rue entered the plastic banknote market earlier this year with deals to supply Fiji and Mauritius.

G4S has been embroiled in a number of public blunders over the last 18 months.

The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues.

The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall, and G4S was forced to pay compensation.

In July the company was accused of charging taxpayers for electronic tags on prisoners who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.

Ministers said they would review the company’s entire portfolio of government work – worth almost £1billion a year.

The blunders happened on the watch of flamboyant boss Nick Buckles, who was forced to resign earlier this year after a humiliating warning that the company’s profits would fall short of expectations.

G4S refused to comment last night. The Bank of England also refused to comment.

By Peter Campbell

PUBLISHED: 01:11 GMT, 27 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:31 GMT, 27 September 2013

Find this story at 27 September 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Was Spionagefirmen in Deutschland für die USA treiben

Die US-Geheimdienste sammeln so viele Daten, dass sie alleine nicht hinterherkommen. Deswegen mieten sie Zusatzkräfte bei privaten Dienstleistern. Die arbeiten wie Spione – auch in Deutschland.

Ein einfacher Miet-Hacker kostet die US-Regierung 117,99 Dollar die Stunde. Sollte er noch etwas mehr können – die US-Firma MacAulay Brown bewirbt auf ihrer Internetseite Computerspezialisten von “Level 1” bis “Level 4” -, dann wird es teurer: bis zu 187,30 Dollar die Stunde. Und das sind schon die reduzierten Preise für Regierungsaufträge, heißt es in einem Prospekt im Internet (hier als PDF).

Die USA spionieren auf der ganzen Welt, und der Staat allein kommt nicht mehr hinterher, alle Informationen zu verarbeiten. Deswegen setzen Militär und Geheimdienste auf private Firmen, die ihnen zuliefern, auf sogenannte Contractors. Ein Milliardenmarkt. Große Konzerne wie CSC, L-3 Communications, SAIC und Booz Allen Hamilton haben Zehntausende Mitarbeiter. Die Firmen pflegen die Computer der US-Truppen, warten die Datenbanken der Geheimdienste, sortieren Unterlagen. Und manchmal schicken sie “Analysten”: Mitarbeiter, die die nackten Informationen der Geheimdienste für Einsatzbesprechungen zusammenfassen. Alle wichtigen Contractors haben auch Aufträge in Deutschland.
Datenbank-Recherche
Alle Geheimdienst-Aufträge an Privatfirmen in Deutschland

Was treiben die USA in Deutschland? Antworten finden sich auch in einer offiziellen US-Datenbank. Hier finden Sie alle Verträge für Geheimdienstarbeiten in Deutschland.

Die Bundesrepublik ist einer der wichtigsten Stützpunkte der USA, allein im Fiskaljahr 2012 haben sie hier drei Milliarden Dollar ausgegeben. Mehr als im Irak, und auch mehr als in Südkorea – wo die US-Armee tatsächlich einem Feind im Norden gegenübersteht. Von Deutschland aus kämpfen die USA gegen einen Feind, der weit weg ist: Wenn in Somalia US-Drohnen vermeintliche Terroristen beschießen, läuft das über Stuttgart, wo das Hauptquartier für US-Afrika-Missionen sitzt. Auch im Drohnenkrieg sind private Firmen beteiligt, deren Mitarbeiter warten die Fluggeräte, sie kalibrieren die Laser, sie sammeln die Informationen zur Zielerfassung.

Den größten Umsatz mit Analysten auf deutschem Boden verbucht die Firma SOS International, kurz SOSi, an die bislang 61 Millionen Dollar geflossen sind – so steht es in der US-Datenbank für Staatsaufträge. Gerade sucht SOSi neue Mitarbeiter für den Standort Darmstadt. Es geht um die Auswertung von Geo-Daten: Wer ist wann wo? Auf welcher Straße fährt der Mensch in Somalia, der vielleicht ein Terrorist ist, immer abends nach Hause? Informationen, die für tödliche Drohnenschläge verwendet werden können. Geospatial-Analysten verwandeln die Signale der Satelliten in bunte Bilder – und finden darin die Zielperson. Die Konsequenzen zieht der US-Militärapparat.
(Foto: Screenshot exelisvis.com)

Wie sehr die USA in Deutschland auf die privaten Helfer setzen, zeigt ein Auftrag an die Firma Caci aus dem Jahr 2009. Der US-Konzern bekam fast 40 Millionen Dollar, um SIGINT-Analysten nach Deutschland zu schicken. SIGINT steht für Signals Intelligence: Informationen, die Geheimdienste im Internet gesammelt haben. Dabei ist Caci nicht irgendein Unternehmen. Ihre Mitarbeiter waren 2003 als Befrager im US-Gefängnis Abu Ghraib im Irak eingesetzt, aus dem später die Bilder eines Folterskandals um die Welt gingen: Nackte Häftlinge, aufgestapelt zu menschlichen Pyramiden, angeleint wie Hunde und selbst nach ihrem Tod noch misshandelt – fotografiert von grinsenden US-Soldaten und ihren Helfern. Zwei Untersuchungsberichte der US-Armee kamen später zu dem Schluss, dass Caci-Leute an Misshandlungen beteiligt waren. Caci bestreitet das.

Die Episode zeigt: Die Contractors stecken tief drin in Amerikas schmutzigen Kriegen. Jeder fünfte Geheimdienstmitarbeiter ist in Wahrheit bei einer privaten Firma angestellt. Das geht aus den geheimen Budgetplänen der US-Geheimdienste hervor, die dank des Whistleblowers Edward Snowden öffentlich wurden. Snowden ist der wohl berühmteste Ex-Angestellte eines Contractors, bis Juni arbeitete er als Systemadministrator für Booz Allen Hamilton. Der Konzern übernimmt viele IT-Jobs für US-Behörden, so hatte Snowden Zugriff auf hochsensible Unterlagen, die streng geheime Operationen von amerikanischen und britischen Geheimdiensten belegen – obwohl er nicht einmal direkt bei einem US-Geheimdienst arbeitete. Viele Contractors haben Zugriff auf das Allerheiligste. Auf die vom Geheimdienst gesammelten Daten, und auf die interne Kommunikation.

Genau diese Aufgaben sorgen auch für hohe Umsätze in Deutschland. Caci und der Konkurrent SAIC haben zusammen hierzulande in den vergangenen Jahren Hunderte Millionen Dollar umgesetzt. Der Konzern suchte noch vor Kurzem in Stellenausschreibungen Entwickler für das Programm XKeyscore. Nachdem der Guardian enthüllt hatte, dass der US-Geheimdienst NSA damit Bewegungen im Internet von E-Mails bis Facebook-Chats live verfolgen kann, gingen die Gesuche offline. Eine SAIC-Sprecherin betonte, dieses Geschäft sei in dem im September abgespaltenen Unternehmen Leidos aufgegangen. Weitere Fragen ließ sie unbeantwortet.

Die CIA beteiligt sich sogar über eine eigene Investmentfirma names In-Q-Tel an Start-ups, um später deren Technologie nutzen zu können. Auch personell sind die beiden Welten verbunden: Der oberste US-Geheimdienstdirektor James R. Clapper war erst Chef des Militärgeheimdienstes DIA, dann beim Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton und kehrte schließlich in den Staatsdienst zurück – er soll die Arbeit aller US-Nachrichtendienste koordinieren. Arbeit, die oft privatisiert wird, wovon Unternehmen wie sein ehemaliger Arbeitgeber profitieren.

Die Beziehungen zwischen Privatfirmen und dem Staat sind so eng, dass Contractors Büros in US-Militärbasen beziehen. Für MacAulay Brown saß bis vor einem Jahr ein Mitarbeiter auf dem Gelände des Dagger-Complexes in Griesheim. Der Standort gilt als Brückenkopf der NSA. Der Mitarbeiter von MacAulay Brown hatte die gleiche Telefonnummer wie die dort stationierten Truppen und eine eigene Durchwahl. Als gehörte er dazu.
Ein Soldat vor einer sogenannten “Shadow”-Drohne in der US-Basis in Vilseck-Grafenwöhr (Foto: REUTERS)

16. November 2013 11:31 Amerikanische Auftragnehmer
Von Bastian Brinkmann,Oliver Hollenstein und Antonius Kempmann

Find this story at 16 November 2013

Copyright: Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

Duurzaam afwimpelen

Hoe duurzaam koopt de overheid in? (Met wie werkt ze dus samen?)

In nota’s stelt de overheid een actief inkoopbeleid voor te staan van duurzaam geproduceerde producten voor haar ambtenaren, alsmede de aanstelling van extern adhoc-personeel gebonden aan sociale voorwaarden. Mooie woorden, maar de praktijk is echter weerbarstig, zo blijkt.

Op de website Helpdesk Duurzaam Inkopen http://helpdeskduurzaaminkopen.nlvan de bedrijven consultancy DHV en Significant (bekend van het onderzoek naar de Wet op de Uitgebreide identificatieplicht) wordt de film An Inconvenient Truth van Al Gore genoemd als aanjager van het duurzaamheidsdebat. Dagblad Trouw kopte op 28 februari 2007 ‘Al Gore is hypocriet’. In het artikel wordt het energiegebruik van de voormalig vicepresident van de VS vergeleken met dat van een doorsnee huishouden in de staat Tenessee. Gore gebruikte toen veertien keer zoveel energie als een gemiddelde Amerikaan.

Het voorbeeld van Gore geeft aan dat het duurzaamheidsdebat niet eenvoudig verloopt. Daarbij gaat het niet om de boodschap – er vindt klimaatverandering plaats – maar om de definitie, de controle en het toezicht. Is die controle en toezicht wel mogelijk als er geen transparantie is? Wimpelt de overheid haar verantwoordelijkheid ten aanzien van haar eigen inkopen niet af op bedrijven, NGO’s, ketens en uiteindelijk de werknemers die de producten en diensten verzorgen voor die overheid? En weten we eigenlijk wel met wie de overheid samenwerkt (DHV, Significant?) of wordt dat ook overgelaten aan de markt?

Duurzaam inkopen

De duurzaamheidsgedachte heeft sinds enkele jaren postgevat binnen het inkoopbeleid van de Nederlandse overheid, het zogenaamde duurzaam inkopen. De website van de twee consultancy bedrijven is daar dan ook op gericht. De overheid is een grote consument en betrekt allerlei goederen en diensten van het bedrijfsleven. Vanuit de milieulobby, maar ook de derde wereld beweging, is jarenlang druk uitgeoefend om de overheid te bewegen zelf het goede voorbeeld te geven. Bij duurzaamheid gaat het zowel om milieu-aspecten als om sociale aspecten. Denk aan het ondersteunen van de fiets en de trein in het kader van het woon-werkverkeer en de Max Havelaar koffie in de kantine.

Duurzaam inkopen, zoals het door de overheid wordt genoemd, vindt zijn oorsprong in de Nota Milieu en Economie uit 1997. Er volgden allerlei andere nota’s, rapporten, initiatieven, pilots en targets. De Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 meldt vervolgens trots dat de doelen voor dat jaar ruimschoots bereikt zijn: ‘Het Rijk heeft 99.8 procent duurzame inkopen gerealiseerd (doelstelling 100 procent), Provincies 96 procent (doelstelling 50 procent), waterschappen 85 procent, gemeenten 87-90 procent (doelstelling 75 procent), universiteiten 80 procent, hogescholen 95 procent en het middelbaar beroepsonderwijs 75 procent.

Indrukwekkende cijfers en geslaagd beleid zou je zeggen. Een rapport van KPMG uit 2010 voor het toenmalig ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu concludeert dat de inkoop van de schoonmaak bij de overheid 100 procent duurzaam is (Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 Resultaten monitoringonderzoek duurzaam inkopen 2010 KPMG juni 2010).

Nu is met betrekking tot het milieu de inkoop nog redelijk te volgen. De kantinebeheerder gebruikt alleen biologische producten, de minister fietst tussen werk en privé, de dienstauto is een hybride en er wordt geen chloor gebruikt in het toilet op het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie.

Bij de sociale aspecten is het echter een stuk lastiger. Hanteert het ingehuurde schoonmaakbedrijf wel de ‘fundamentele’ fatsoensnormen, en wat zijn die? Krijgen mensen wel een redelijk loon naar arbeid? En wie controleert eigenlijk of aan die sociale voorwaarden van het duurzaam inkopen is voldaan? De recente stakingsacties van de schoonmakers bij de ministeries van Sociale Zaken en Buitenlandse Zaken maakt duidelijk dat de prachtige percentages in de monitor van 2010 niet veel zeggen over de kwaliteit van de duurzaamheid en ook vragen oproepen over de controle op de inkopen.

Klein inkoopbeleid

De overheid ziet natuurlijk in dat een solide beleid dat niet één-twee-drie te organiseren valt. Men geeft aan dat het duurzame inkoopbeleid alleen geldt voor ‘alle EU-aanbestedingen en openbare nationale aanbestedingen en meervoudig onderhandse offerteaanvragen groter dan € 50.000 (exclusief BTW)’. (Website PIANOo, Expertisecentrum Aanbesteden van het ministerie van Economische Zaken, Infrastructuur en Innovatie). De kleinere inkopen behoeven in principe niet duurzaam te zijn. Bij de aanschaf van bureaustoelen bijvoorbeeld bij een waarde hoger dan € 50.000 kan de duurzaamheid van het product zelfs redelijk precies worden geformuleerd.

De rijksoverheid schrijft dat bij ‘de belangrijkste milieuaspecten, de volledige levensloop van het product of de dienst in beschouwing wordt genomen.’ Hierbij gaat het om de kwaliteit en de afkomst van de materialen waarvan de stoel is gemaakt, hoe lang deze mee gaat. Een stoel van gerecycled plastic uit Nederland is duurzamer dan een stoel van hard hout afkomstig uit het Amazone gebied in Brazilië.

Hoe zit het echter met de mobiele telefoons die de overheid aanschaft? In veel smartphones en andere telecommunicatie materialen zijn zeldzame (edel)metalen verwerkt en meestal niet gerecycled. De overheid zal geen tweede hands apparatuur via Marktplaats aanschaffen. En die metalen komen meestal uit conflictgebieden zoals de documentaire Blood in my mobile ons laat zien. In die documentaire gaat het overigens vooral om Nokia telefoons.

De exacte afkomst van materialen is ook vaak lastig te bepalen. Apple zal bijvoorbeeld aangeven dat de metalen uit de iphones zijn betrokken van allerlei tussenhandelaren. Ook schermen bedrijven vaak met de term bedrijfsgeheim. Het Green Public Procurement Mobile Phones Technical Background Report van de Europese Unie, DG-Environment by Forum for the Future/BRE 2011, stelt echter dat bedrijven die willen meedingen bij een aanbesteding het eigen beleid ten aanzien van metalen uit Congo moeten openbaren. ‘Asking bidders to disclose their policies on sourcing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been included in the criteria based on industry evidence and recent developments in U.S. Law’.

Hoe betrouwbaar is echter de mededeling van Nokia dat ze geen Coltan, columbite-tantalite, uit Congo gebruiken? En wie gaat het controleren? Het beleid rond duurzaam inkopen van de overheid wil die tekortkomingen opvangen door bedrijven te wijzen op hun keten-aansprakelijkheid. Bij de keten gaat het om het gehele traject van ruwe materialen tot de afnemer. Keten-aansprakelijk is er op gericht om ‘verbeteringen in de keten’ aan te brengen doordat bedrijven en instellingen controle en toezicht uitvoeren.

De controle en het toezicht op de ruwe materialen van producten betreft het niet alleen conflictgebieden. Met ijzer toegepast in een bureaustoel lijkt niet veel aan de hand, maar als de ijzerertsmijn al het water onttrekt aan de regio kan het voor boeren en bewoners in de omgeving van een mijn vreselijke gevolgen hebben. Hoe is dat goed te controleren en wie houdt daar toezicht op? Is na te gaan welk ijzererts de basis is geweest voor het ijzer in de stoel?

Keten-aansprakelijkheid

In de communicatie rondom duurzaam inkopen lijkt het zwaartepunt dan ook te liggen op energiezuinigheid en de afvalverwerking van bijvoorbeeld stoelen, computers en gebouwen. Tussen de bestaande ketens die het ministerie opsomt in het kader van de keten-aansprakelijkheid bevinden zich op dit moment nog geen ketens die verantwoordelijk zijn voor kantoormeubilair, elektronica en gebouwen.

Bij keten-aansprakelijkheid gaat het niet alleen om de milieuaspecten van de goederen en diensten. Vooral bij de sociale voorwaarden wordt de keten gezien als een belangrijke promotor van duurzaamheid. Agentschap NL van het ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie (ministerie van ELI) vermeldt: ‘Voor inkopers is niet makkelijk na te gaan of er ergens in de productieketen kinderarbeid is verricht of medewerkers voor een hongerloon hebben gewerkt’. Die kinderarbeid is meestal iets dat plaatsvindt in landen als China en India, weggestopt op het platteland of in een miljoenenstad.

Apple bijvoorbeeld ligt onder vuur vanwege arbeidsomstandigheden bij haar Chinese toeleveranciers van iphones. Eind 2011 waren de slechte omstandigheden in de fabrieken waar onderdelen van Apple worden gemaakt in het nieuws naar aanleiding van een golf van zelfmoorden onder arbeiders. In een markt waar de marges klein zijn, zullen de andere producenten echter niet veel beter presteren. Apple had de pech dat enkele werknemers de stilte verbraken.

Het voorbeeld van Apple maakt duidelijk dat misstanden niet eenvoudig zijn op te sporen, misschien zelfs niet voor het bedrijf zelf. Apple zegt dat zij het toezicht op de fabrieken zal verscherpen, maar of dat voldoende is, is onduidelijk. Het Agentschap NL geeft daarom aan dat het voor de inkoper lastig is, zeker als bij de keten allerlei bedrijven of productielijnen in het buitenland betrokken zijn.

De recente protesten van de schoonmakers maken duidelijk dat het duurzame inkopen wat betreft sociale voorwaarden zelfs op lokaal niveau geen sinecure is. Bij die voorwaarden wordt in een folder van het ministerie van ELI verwezen naar ‘fundamentele normen in de verdragen van Internationale Arbeidsorganisatie en de normen in de Universele Verklaring van de Rechten van de Mens (UVRM)’. Een deel van de algemene normen is afkomstig van conventies van de Internationale Arbeidsorganisatie (ILO), zoals de afschaffing van dwangarbeid en slavernij, de vrijwaring van discriminatie op het werk en in beroep, de afschaffing van kinderarbeid, de vrijheid van vakvereniging en recht op collectief onderhandelen.

Een ander deel betreft de mensenrechten uit het UVRM, uitgewerkt in bindende verdragen als het BuPo en Esocul. De overheid heeft ten aanzien van duurzaam inkopen deze algemene normen nog eens aangescherpt met aanvullende normen. Er kan eigenlijk niets fout gaan met dat inkoopbeleid, zou je denken. Met zoveel indrukwekkende normen zal niet het eerste de beste schoonmaakbedrijf aan de slag gaan op het ministerie van Sociale Zaken. De praktijk is weerbarstig, zoals blijkt.

Controle beperkt

Natuurlijk is de controle voor de overheid beperkt, misschien zelfs onmogelijk, zoals het Agentschap NL over de taak van de inkoper schrijft, maar wat valt er dan nog duurzaam in te kopen? In het beleid nemen de keten-initiatieven een centrale rol in. Bedrijven kunnen zich bij deze initiatieven aansluiten. De initiatieven ‘zijn organisaties waarin verschillende partijen samenwerken om zicht te krijgen op de productieketen en om te beïnvloeden dat er betere sociale voorwaarden in de keten komen’.

In de communicatie over Duurzaam inkopen worden de volgende keten-initiatieven opgesomd: ‘Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) voor bloemen en planten, Fair Wear Foundation voor kleding, Max Havelaar voor voedingsmiddelen, bloemen, katoen, cosmetica en verzorging, Union for Ethical BioTrade voor voedsel, cosmetica, farmacie, decoratie UTZ Certified voor koffie, thee, cacao, palmolie en Social Accountability International voor alles.’

Bij de verschillende initiatieven lijken zowel consumenten als producenten vertegenwoordigd, maar wie verricht de controle in de fabrieken? Het voorbeeld van Apple laat zien dat sociale normen, controle en toezicht op papier nog niets zeggen over de daadwerkelijke omstandigheden en eventuele verbeteringen. Belangen van producenten en consumenten liggen soms heel ver uit elkaar.

Het ministerie geeft dit in een folder ook aan: ‘De criteria voor duurzaam inkopen adresseren sociale aspecten en milieu-aspecten. Tegelijkertijd moet voorkomen worden dat de criteria een negatieve invloed hebben op het ‘profit’-aspect. De toepassing van de criteria dient daarom over het geheel genomen niet te leiden tot substantiële meerkosten’, vermeldt het Toetsingskader criteria duurzaam inkopen van 1 juni 2010.

‘Substantiële meerkosten’ is een rekbaar begrip. De overheid wil zelf ook voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rij zitten. Bij de aanbesteding van de schoonmaak van de toiletten zal de goedkoopste aanbieder toch eerder gekozen worden dan de dure aanbieder die zijn werknemers een respectvol salaris betaalt. De folder van het ministerie uit juni 2010 vermeldt daarom dat bij de ‘milieugerelateerde criteria gebruik wordt gemaakt van bestaande kennis bij inkopers, bedrijven, NGO’s, brancheorganisaties, kennisinstituten en recente onderzoeken’.

Het keten-initiatief Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) geeft aan dat ‘FFP-bloemen en planten een traject volgen van producent tot aan het verkooppunt. Elke schakel in de keten moet lid zijn van Fair Flowers Fair Plants en moet bewijzen dat het om FFP producten gaat.’ Bij de controles wordt gelet op milieu-eisen (gewasbeschermingsmiddelen, meststoffen, energie, water en afval) en sociale eisen (veiligheid, gezondheid en arbeidsomstandigheden).

Bij controles zijn feitelijke omstandigheden makkelijker vast te stellen da ‘menselijke factoren’. Is de vakbond ook daadwerkelijk een vakbond van de werknemers zelf of heeft het bedrijf de bond opgezet om bij de keten te horen? Over milieu-criteria is het ministerie van ELI helder: ‘Voor de milieu gerelateerde criteria wordt gebruik gemaakt van bestaande kennis bij inkopers, bedrijven, NGO’s, brancheorganisaties, kennisinstituten en recente onderzoeken.’ De sociale criteria zijn niet geformuleerd omdat de ‘contouren van de sociale criteria thans nog worden uitgewerkt tot criteria die bij het inkopen kunnen worden gebruikt

Sociale voorwaarden

De overheid erkent de problemen met betrekking tot de sociale voorwaarden en daarom is onder het kopje ‘duurzaamheid: people, planet, profit’ een ‘redelijke inspanning’ geformuleerd: ‘Omdat het moeilijk is alles wat in de keten gebeurt te kennen, vraagt de overheid een inspanningsverplichting van de leverancier en geen resultaatsverplichting.’ Zodra Apple kan aangeven dat zij de fabrieken écht regelmatig bezoekt dan kan de iphone nog voor duurzaam doorgaan, ondanks de slechte arbeidsomstandigheden.

Bij de inspanning gaat het om ‘de grootte van de opdracht, de frequentie van de relatie met toeleveranciers, de machtsverhoudingen tussen partijen in de keten, de kenbaarheid van de situatie in de keten.’ Het schoonmaakbedrijf dat zijn werknemers slecht behandelt en betaalt kan ook voor duurzaam doorgaan door te verwijzen naar de ‘machtsverhoudingen tussen partijen in de keten.’ Het probeert de sociale voorwaarden na te komen, maar slaagt daar duidelijk niet in omdat de werknemers uit onvrede de straat op gaan.

Het is voor de ambtenaar die een duurzame mobiele telefoon of bureaustoel wil aanschaffen, dan wel schoonmakers wil aanstellen bepaald geen eenvoudige klus. Hij kan alles aan de markt over laten en hopen dat de keten-initiatieven verbeteringen in de sociale voorwaarden teweeg zullen brengen, maar het kan ook mis gaan. De toiletten worden vervolgens niet meer schoon gemaakt, de stoelen gaan na drie jaar in plaats van vijf jaar stuk en in de telefoon zit tóch Coltan verwerkt volgens een documentairemaker.

Inspanningsverplichting, ketenaansprakelijkheid… uiteindelijk gaat het om onderzoek die misstanden aan het licht brengt, zoals in het geval van Apple. Onderzoek door journalisten of niet gouvernementele organisaties. Het ministerie geeft dan ook als tip aan het bedrijfsleven dat zij ‘de gegevens kunnen raadplegen die zijn bijeengebracht door onderzoeksinstanties en NGO’s.’ Verschillende NGO’s hebben zich ook aangesloten bij keten-initiatieven. De vakbonden, FNV Bondgenoten en CNV dienstenbond, en de NGO de Clean Clothes Campaign hebben zich bij de kledingketen aangesloten (Fair Wear Foundation).

Vraag is echter of het doorverwijzen naar NGO’s en onderzoeksinstanties niet wat al te gemakkelijk is. Waar ligt de verantwoordelijkheid van de overheid zelf? Het voorbeeld van de schoonmakers laat zien dat bij zoiets essentieels als een schone werkplek het al fout gaat. Hoe zit het dan met het kantoormeubilair of de gebruikte communicatiemiddelen? Misschien is de koffie wel zuiver, maar de communicatie niet?

Daarnaast wordt er al jaren bezuinigd op het maatschappelijk middenveld en ontwikkelingsorganisaties. Wordt duurzaam inkopen straks niet het afchecken van de inspanning van een bedrijf? En bestaan de ketens in de toekomst alleen nog maar uit de producenten voor wie profit net iets belangrijker is dan people? De consument, lees de overheid, speelt daar ook een belangrijke rol in, want de markt heerst en alles kan nog goedkoper.

Onzichtbare contracten

Als voorbeeld hebben we Apple genomen, maar levert het computerbedrijf eigenlijk wel telefoons aan bestuursorganen in Nederland? Bij de openbare aanbestedingen zijn er publieke registers, maar de contracten onder de € 50.000 blijven onzichtbaar. In principe hoeft de overheid alleen bij openbare aanbestedingen duurzaam in te kopen. Elk jaar is het bedrag dat wordt aanbesteed minder dan de helft van het totale inkoopvolume (Het totale inkoopvolume van Nederlandse overheden, Instituut voor Onderzoek van Overheidsuitgaven (IOO bv) uit 2009).

Er is sprake van nogal grove schattingen, want de cijfers over de aanbestedingen lopen uiteen van 18 tot 33 miljard euro. De getallen zijn echter een indicatie voor het percentage duurzaam ingekochte goederen en diensten. Dit ligt rond de 30 en 50 procent bij een geschat totaal volume van de overheid van rond de 60 miljard. Als de overheid echter beweert dat de inkoop van het schoonmaken 100 procent duurzaam is en vervolgens de schoonmakers daar anders over denken, roept dat vragen op over het gehele duurzaamheidstraject.

Hoe zit het met het ijzer van het kantoormeubilair en de coltan in de telefoons? De publicaties over de slechte arbeidsomstandigheden in de fabrieken voor onderdelen van Apple laten zien dat onderzoek van groot belang is om het duurzaamheidsgehalte tegen het licht te houden. Een eerste vereiste voor dat onderzoek is de vraag of de overheid iphones in gebruik heeft. Daarbij is de vraag of het een openbare aanbesteding betreft van minder belang.

Door in de Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 heel hard te roepen dat alle doelen gehaald zijn en aan te geven dat de Rijksoverheid bijna 100 procent duurzaam inkoopt, wordt de illusie gewekt dat 100 procent ook alle inkoop betreft. Nergens wordt vermeld om welk percentage van het totale inkoopvolume van de Rijksoverheid het gaat. Duurzaam inkopen zou ook op de boekhouding moeten slaan en dus ook als het om niet aan te besteden goederen en diensten gaat. De overheid wil geen goedkope stoelen die door kinderhanden zijn gemaakt in de kamer van de minister van ELI.

Het ministerie geeft zelf toe dat de overheid niet over de kennis beschikt ten aanzien van materialen, arbeidsomstandigheden en andere sociale en milieu-aspecten. Om die reden verwijst de overheid bedrijven door naar ‘de gegevens die zijn bijeengebracht door onderzoeksinstanties en NGO’s.’ Die organisaties moeten dan wel weten met wie de overheid in zee gaat, want anders wordt het onderzoek een verdraaid lastig karwei.

Verzoek tot openbaarmaking

Buro Jansen & Janssen verzocht op 7 juli 2010 alle ministeries en politiediensten om contracten met bedrijven op het gebied van ICT, communicatie, dataverzameling en beheer, toegangscontrole, zichtsystemen, alarm, wapensystemen, beschermende oplossingen voor personeel, voertuigen en gebouwen, voertuigen, training en detachering openbaar te maken. In totaal werden 34 bestuursorganen aangeschreven.

Met name de politie reageerde als door een wesp gestoken. Wat Buro Jansen & Janssen wel niet dacht! Alles passeerde de revue. Te veel werk, niet te vinden, allemaal persoonlijk, zeer geheim, staatsgeheim, levensgevaarlijk als bandieten dat te weten komen.

Ruim een half jaar later druppelden de eerste overzichtslijsten binnen. Het duurde tot in de zomer van 2011 voordat alle lijsten in het bezit van Jansen & Janssen waren. Ze zijn verschillend van opzet, inhoud, duidelijkheid en precisie. Sommige politieregio’s hebben geprobeerd zo volledig mogelijk te zijn bij de beantwoording van het verzoek, anderen zo onvolledig mogelijk. En het betreft niet alle namen van de bedrijven die met de politie of de verschillende ministeries samenwerken.

Waarom worden eigenlijk niet alle namen van de instanties die met de overheid samenwerken openbaar gemaakt? Alleen dan kan serieus werk worden gemaakt van een duurzaam inkoopbeleid. Een overheid die niet transparant is, zal altijd schoonmakers in dienst hebben die niet volgens normale fatsoensnormen worden behandeld. Vuile ramen ontnemen het zicht op een serieus beleid waarbij sociale en milieu-aspecten centraal staan en waarbij het inkopen niet duurzaam is, maar wordt afgewimpeld.

Find this story at 26 March 2012

Die Top 3 der Mietspione

Alleine in Deutschland haben die USA bisher 140 Millionen Euro für private Spione ausgegeben. Die meisten Aufträge gingen an die drei Firmen SOSi, Caci und MacAulay-Brown. Was sind das für Konzerne?

Etwa 70 Prozent ihres Budgets geben die US-Geheimdienste für Aufträge an Privatfirmen aus. Das ist bekannt, seit vor Jahren eine interne Präsentation des amerikanischen Geheimdienstdirektors im Internet auftauchte. Die privaten Auftragnehmer, auf Englisch Contractors, sind eine riesige Schattenarmee (mehr dazu hier).

Und sie sind auch in Deutschland tätig: Rund 140 Millionen Dollar haben die USA in den vergangenen zehn Jahren in Deutschland für private Spione ausgegeben (hier alle Aufträge in einer Tabelle zum Herunterladen). Dazu kommen Hunderte Millionen Dollar für spionagenahe Dienstleistungen wie Datenbankpflege oder Datenverarbeitung.

Süddeutsche.de stellt die drei Spionagehelfer vor, die am meisten Umsatz in Deutschland mit Geheimdienstarbeiten machen.
Nummer 1: SOSi – Vom Übersetzungsbüro zum Flughafenbetreiber

Mitarbeiter von SOSi seien das Ziel von internationalen Terroristen und ausländischen Geheimdiensten, sagt der Sicherheitschef der Firma. Das Unternehmen arbeite mit den geheimsten Daten der US-Regierung. Es gelte daher, besondere Sicherheitsmaßnahmen zu treffen, erzählt er in einem Video im Intranet. Nach dem Urlaub müssten die Mitarbeiter eine kurze Befragung über sich ergehen lassen: Wen haben sie getroffen? Warum? Änderungen im Privatleben seien der Firma bitte umgehend zu melden. Und wichtig sei auch, sagt er, den Vorgesetzten von verdächtigem Verhalten von Kollegen zu berichten.

SOS International, der Sicherheitschef kürzt es gerne S-O-S-i ab, ist der größte Spionagedienstleister der Amerikaner in Deutschland. Allein 2012 hat die Firma für Geheimdiensttätigkeiten in Deutschland 11,8 Millionen Euro von der US-Regierung bekommen, insgesamt waren es in den vergangenen Jahren rund 60 Millionen Dollar.

Auf den ersten Blick gibt sich die Firma offen: Es gibt eine Internetseite, eine Facebook-Seite, die Vorstände twittern, der Firmenchef sendet Videobotschaften. Mehrere Anfragen zu ihrer Tätigkeit in Deutschland ließ die Firma allerdings unbeantwortet. Wie die Firma tickt lässt sich trotzdem gut rekonstruieren: aus den öffentlichen Daten – und aus einer älteren Version des Intranets der Firma, die sie offenbar versehentlich ins Internet stellte.

Dort findet sich allerhand: Hinweise zum Dresscode (konservativ-professionell), Empfehlungen zum Umgang mit Drogen (geringe Mengen Alkohol bei Firmenfeiern erlaubt) oder Anweisungen zur Reaktion auf Kontaktversuche der Medien (nichts herausgeben). Und auch das eindringliche Briefing des Sicherheitschefs, in dem er an den Patriotismus und die Paranoia seiner Mitarbeiter appelliert.

Öffentlich verkauft sich das Unternehmen als Familienunternehmen mit Vom-Tellerwäscher-zum-Millionär-Geschichte. Ursprünglich ist Sosi der Vorname der Unternehmensgründerin: Sosi Setian kam 1959 als Flüchtling aus Armenien nach Amerika, heißt es in der Selbstdarstellung der Firma. Sie arbeitete als Übersetzerin für US-Behörden, gründete 1989 ein Übersetzungsbüro. Nach sechs Monaten hatte sie 52 Mitarbeiter, die sie angeblich alle regelmäßig zum Abendessen in ihr Zuhause einlud.

Heute ist der Sohn der Gründerin, Julian Setian, Geschäftsführer, seine Schwester Pandora sitzt ebenfalls im Vorstand. Der große Erfolg kam nach dem 11. September 2001 – und mit den immens gestiegenen Spionageausgaben der USA. 2002 begann SOSi Übersetzer nach Afghanistan und in den Irak zu schicken. Ein Jahr später heuerten sie auch Spionageanalysten und Sicherheitstrainer an – die Firma hatte erkannt, wie lukrativ das Geheimdienstgeschäft war. Inzwischen beschäftigt das Unternehmen zwischen 800 bis 1200 Mitarbeiter und ist auf allen Feldern der Spionage aktiv, steht auf der Firmenhomepage.

Was das konkret heißt, lässt sich mit Broschüren aus dem Intranet rekonstruieren: SOSi hat die US Army in Europa bei der Auswertung ihrer Spionageergebnisse unterstützt, in Afghanistan PR-Arbeit für die US-Truppen gemacht, im Irak Einheimische auf der Straße angeworben, um die Sicherheitslage im Land einzuschätzen, und in Amerika FBI-Agenten die Techniken der Gegenspionage beigebracht.

Neben den USA hat die Firma Büros in acht weiteren Ländern, darunter Deutschland, heißt es in der Broschüre, die aus dem Jahr 2010 stammt. Auf seiner Homepage sucht das Unternehmen Mitarbeiter in Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Stuttgart und Wiesbaden – also an den traditionellen Standorten der Amerikaner. Im September hat SOSi in einer Pressemitteilung veröffentlicht, dass sie die 66. Military Intelligence Brigade in Darmstadt in den kommenden drei Jahren beim Planen, Sammeln und Auswerten von Geo-Daten unterstützen werde, der sogenannten Geospatial-Intelligence.
Solche Software müssen GEOINT-Analysten von SOSi bedienen können. (Foto: Screenshot exelisvis.com)

Im Mai gewann die Firma eine Ausschreibung der irakischen Regierung. SOSi übernimmt nach dem Abzug der letzten amerikanischen Truppen aus dem Irak die Verantwortung für die Logistik und die Sicherheit von drei ehemaligen US-Stützpunkten sowie einem Flugplatz. Mehr als 1500 Mitarbeiter werden dafür gebraucht, das würde die Unternehmensgröße fast verdoppeln.

Die Verantwortung für das Geschäft trägt dann Frank Helmick, der seit Dezember 2012 bei SOSi arbeitet. Vor seiner Pensionierung war Helmick übrigens General der US-Army. Zuletzt kommandierte er den Abzug der US-Truppen aus dem Irak.

“Du siehst den Hund dort? Wenn du mir nicht sagst, was ich wissen will, werde ich den Hund auf dich hetzen”, soll Zivilist 11 gesagt haben, damals 2003 im berüchtigten US-Militärgefängnis Abu Ghraib im Irak. Sein Kollege, Zivilist 21, soll einen Gefangenen gezwungen haben, rote Frauen-Unterwäsche auf dem Kopf zu tragen. So steht es in zwei internen Berichten des US-Militärs (dem Fay- und dem Tabuga-Report). Und dort steht auch: Zivilist 11 und Zivilist 21 waren Angestellte der US-Firma Caci.

Bis heute bestreitet das Unternehmen, an den Misshandlungen beteiligt gewesen zu sein, deren Bilder damals um die Welt gingen: Nackte Häftlinge aufgestapelt zu menschlichen Pyramiden, traktiert mit Elektroschocks, angeleint wie Hunde. Unstrittig ist nur, dass Dutzende Mitarbeiter der Firma im Irak waren, um dort Gefangene zu befragen – weil das US-Militär mit dem eigenen Personal nicht mehr hinterherkam. Für viele Kritiker der US-Geheimdienste ist Caci damit zum erschreckendsten Beispiel geworden, wie weit Privatfirmen in die schmutzigen Kriege der Amerikaner verstrickt sind.

Nachhaltig geschadet haben die Foltervorwürfe der Firma aber nicht: 2012 hat Caci einen Rekordumsatz von 3,8 Milliarden Dollar erwirtschaftet, 75 Prozent davon stammen immer noch aus Mitteln des US-Verteidigungsministeriums. 15.000 Mitarbeiter sind weltweit für das Unternehmen tätig. Unter dem Firmenmotto “Ever vigilant” (stets wachsam) bieten sie den Geheimdiensten Unterstützung in allen Bereichen der Spionage, wie das Unternehmen im Jahresbericht 2006 schrieb: Informationen sammeln, Daten analysieren, Berichte schreiben, die Geheimdienstarbeit managen.

Caci hat 120 Büros rund um die Welt, in Deutschland sitzt die Firmen in Leimen, einer Kreisstadt in Baden mit 25.000 Einwohnern. Laut der offiziellen Datenbank der US-Regierung hat die Firma in den vergangenen zehn Jahren in Deutschland 128 Millionen Dollar umgesetzt. Auf seiner Homepage hat Caci Mitarbeiter in Wiesbaden, Schweinfurt, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Darmstadt und Bamberg gesucht, den klassischen Standorten des US-Militärs. Bei manchen Jobs sind die genauen Standorte geheim, bei fast allen die Berechtigung nötig, “Top Secret” arbeiten zu dürfen.

Was die Firma in Deutschland treibt, zeigt sich an einem Auftrag aus dem Jahr 2009. Damals bekam das Unternehmen den Zuschlag, für fast 40 Millionen Dollar SIGINT-Analysten nach Deutschland zu schicken. SIGINT steht für Signals Intelligence, Fernmeldeaufklärung sagen die deutschen Behörden. Was das heißt? Mitarbeiter von Caci haben in Deutschland demnach Telefonate und Internetdaten wie E-Mails abgefangen und ausgewertet.

MacAulay-Brown, Eberstädter Weg 51, Griesheim bei Darmstadt. Offiziell ist der Deutschlandsitz des drittgrößten Spionagezulieferers des US-Militärs in Deutschland nirgendwo angegeben. Doch in einem Prospekt aus dem Jahr 2012 findet sich diese Adresse. Und die ist durchaus brisant: Es ist die Adresse des Dagger Complex. Streng abgeschirmt sitzt dort die 66. Military Intelligence Brigade des US-Militärs und offenbar auch die NSA.

Sogar eine Telefonnummer mit Griesheimer Vorwahl hatte MacAulay-Brown veröffentlicht. Wer dort anruft, bekommt erzählt, dass der Mitarbeiter der Firma etwa seit einem Jahr dort nicht mehr arbeitet. Mehr erfährt man nicht; nicht einmal, wer den Anruf jetzt entgegengenommen hat.

Dass die Firma so engen Kontakt zu Geheimdiensten und Militär hat, überrascht nicht. Geschäftsführer Sid Fuchs war früher Agent der CIA. Weitere Vorstandsmitglieder waren Agenten oder ranghohe Militärs. Die Firma rühmt sich damit, dass 60 Prozent ihrer Mitarbeiter mehr als 15 Jahre Erfahrung im Militär oder sonstigen Regierungstätigkeiten hat.

Dementsprechend ist auch das Tätigkeitsspektrum von MacAulay-Brown, die sich auch MacB abkürzen. Auf seiner Homepage wirbt das Unternehmen damit, einen Rundum-Service für Geheimdienste anzubieten. Die Firma habe, heißt es, kostengünstige, innovative und effiziente Spionage-Möglichkeiten für die Geheimdienste gefunden. Der Fokus liegt dabei auf den eher technischen Spionagebereichen der Signalauswertung und Erderkundung (Fachwörter: Geoint, Masint, Sigint).

Auch in Deutschland hat MacB in diesem Bereich gearbeitet. 2008 hat das Unternehmen mitgeteilt, einen Auftrag der 66. Military Intelligence Brigade in Darmstadt für technische Spionage über Satelliten und Sensoren bekommen zu haben. Insgesamt hat MacAulay-Brown laut Zahlen aus der offiziellen US-Datenbank für Staatsaufträge in den vergangenen Jahren fast zehn Millionen Dollar von der 66. Military Intelligence Brigade erhalten, mit der sich das Unternehmen den Bürositz in Darmstadt zumindest zeitweise teilte.

Mit Signaltechnik und Erderkundung hat das Unternehmen lange Erfahrung. MacAulay-Brown wurde 1979 von zwei Technikern gegründet, John MacAulay und Dr. Charles Brown. Sie waren zunächst ein Ingenieurbüro für die Army, arbeiteten unter anderem an Radarsystemen. Später fokussierte sich die Firma auf das Testen militärischer System für die Air Force. Bis heute ist MacB in diesem Bereich tätig, auch in Deutschland: Das Unternehmen sucht beispielsweise derzeit in Spangdahlem einen Flugzeugtechniker, in dem Ort in Rheinland-Pfalz unterhält die Air Force einen Flughafen.

Ein weiterer Geschäftsbereich von MacB ist die Cybersicherheit – auch hier ist die Firma offenbar in Deutschland tätig: Dem veröffentlichten Prospekt mit der Büroadresse im Dagger-Complex ist eine Liste von Experten angehängt, die das Militär auf Abruf von dem Unternehmen mieten kann – inklusive der Stundenpreise. Neben technischen Schreibern und Grafikdesignern finden sich dabei auch Jobbeschreibungen, die Hackertätigkeiten beinhalten.

Bis heute ist die Firma in Privatbesitz. Sie gehört Syd und Sharon Martin, die MacB 2001 mit ihrer inzwischen verkauften Mutterfirma Sytex gekauft hatten. Als sie 2005 Sytex an den US-Rüstungskonzern Lockheed Martin verkauften, behielten sie MacB – und machten es immer erfolgreicher. Der Umsatz ist seit 2005 von 65 auf 350 Millionen Dollar gewachsen. Die Firma beschäftigt inzwischen 2000 Mitarbeiter weltweit.

Den Erfolg haben dabei vor allem Verträge der US-Regierung gebracht. 2012 war das Unternehmen erstmals auf der Liste der 100 größten Regierungs-Contractors, 2013 steht sie bereits auf Platz 91. Und wenn es nach dem Management geht, soll es so weiter gehen. In einem Interview mit den Dayton Business News sagte Geschäftsführer Fuchs, er wolle in den kommenden Jahren den Umsatz auf eine Milliarde steigern und die Mitarbeiterzahl verdoppeln.

16. November 2013 12:21 Aufträge in Deutschland
Von Oliver Hollenstein

Find this story at 16 November 2013

© Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

Private firms selling mass surveillance systems around world, documents show

One Dubai-based firm offers DIY system similar to GCHQ’s Tempora programme, which taps fibre-optic cables

Advanced Middle East Systems has been offering a device called Cerebro, which taps information from fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic. Photograph: Corbis

Private firms are selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies to developing countries with promises that “off the shelf” equipment will allow them to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls, according to a cache of documents published on Monday.

The papers show how firms, including dozens from Britain, tout the capabilities at private trade fairs aimed at offering nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East the kind of powerful capabilities that are usually associated with government agencies such as GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency.

The market has raised concerns among human rights groups and ministers, who are poised to announce new rules about the sale of such equipment from Britain.

“The government agrees that further regulation is necessary,” a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said. “These products have legitimate uses … but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.”

The documents are included in an online database compiled by the research watchdog Privacy International, which has spent four years gathering 1,203 brochures and sales pitches used at conventions in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London. Analysts posed as potential buyers to gain access to the private fairs.

The database, called the Surveillance Industry Index, shows how firms from the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the US offer governments a range of systems that allow them to secretly hack into internet cables carrying email and phone traffic.

The index has details from 338 companies, including 77 from the UK, offering a total of 97 different technologies.

One firm says its “massive passive monitoring” equipment can “capture up to 1bn intercepts a day”. Some offer cameras hidden in cola cans, bricks or children’s carseats, while one manufacturer turns cars or vans into surveillance control centres.

There is nothing illegal about selling such equipment, and the companies say the new technologies are there to help governments defeat terrorism and crime.

But human rights and privacy campaigners are alarmed at the sophistication of the systems, and worry that unscrupulous regimes could use them as tools to spy on dissidents and critics.

Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi is known to have used off-the-shelf surveillance equipment to clamp down on opposition leaders.

Privacy International believes UK firms should now be subject to the same strict export licence rules faced by arms manufacturers.

“There is a culture of impunity permeating across the private surveillance market, given that there are no strict export controls on the sale of this technology, as there are on the sale of conventional weapons,” said Matthew Rice, research consultant with Privacy International.

“This market profits off the suffering of people around the world, yet it lacks any sort of effective oversight or accountability.

“This lack of regulation has allowed companies to export surveillance technology to countries that use their newly acquired surveillance capability to spy on human rights activists, journalists and political movements.”

Privacy International hopes the Surveillance Industry Index will give academics, politicians and campaigners a chance to look at the type of surveillance technologies now available in the hope of sparking a debate about improved regulation.

The documents include a brochure from a company called Advanced Middle East Systems (AMES), based in Dubai. It has been offering a device called Cerebro – a DIY system similar to the Tempora programme run by GCHQ – that taps information from fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic.

AMES describes Cerebro as a “core technology designed to monitor and analyse in real time communications … including SMS (texting), GSM (mobile calls), billing data, emails, conversations, webmail, chat sessions and social networks.”

The company brochure makes clear this is done by attaching probes to internet cables. “No co-operation with the providers is required,” it adds.

“Cerebro is designed to store several billions of records – metadata and/or communication contents. At any time the investigators can follow the live activity of their target with advanced targeting criteria (email addresses, phone numbers, key words),” says the brochure.

AMES refused to comment after being contacted by the Guardian, but said it followed similar protocols to other surveillance companies. “We don’t want to interact with the press,” said a spokesman.

Another firm selling similar equipment is VASTech, based in South Africa, which has a system called Zebra. Potential buyers are told it has been designed to help “government security agencies face huge challenges in their combat against crime and terrorism”.

VASTech says Zebra offers “access to high volumes of information generated via telecommunication services for the purposes of analysis and investigation”.

It has been designed to “intercept all content and metadata of voice, SMS, email and fax communications on the connected network, creating a rich repository of information”.

A spokesman for the company said: “VASTech produces products for governmental law enforcement agencies. These products have the primary goal of reducing specifically cross-border crimes such as child pornography, human trafficking, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling, money laundering, corruption and terrorist activities. We compete internationally and openly against several suppliers of similar systems.

“We only supply legal governments, which are not subjected to international sanctions. Should their status change in this regard, we hold the right to withdraw our supplies and support unilaterally.”

Ann McKechin, a Labour member of the arms export control committee, said: “Obviously we are concerned about how our government provides licences, given these new types of technology.

“Software technology is now becoming a very large component of our total exports and how we police it before it gets out of country will become an increasingly difficult question and I think the government has to review its processes to consider whether they are fit for the task.”

She said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has responsibility for granting export licences, had to ensure it has the skills and knowledge to assess new technologies, particularly if they were being sold to “countries of concern”.

“The knowledge of staff which maybe more geared to more traditional types of weaponry,” she added.

A business department spokesperson said: “The government agrees that further regulation is necessary. These products have legitimate uses in defending networks and tracking and disrupting criminals, but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.

“Given the international nature of this problem we believe that an internationally agreed solution will be the most effective response. That is why the UK is leading international efforts to agree export controls on specific technologies of concern.

“We expect to be able to announce real progress in this area in early December.”
What’s on offer

Some companies offer a range of spy equipment that would not look out of place in a James Bond film

Spy vans

Ordinary vans, cars and motorbikes can be customised to offer everything a spy could need. Tiny cameras and microphones are hidden in wing mirrors, headlights and even the makers’ logo. Vehicles can also be fitted with the latest mass surveillance technology, allowing them to intercept, assess and store a range of digital communications from the surrounding area.

Hidden cameras

The range of objects that can hide high-quality cameras and recording equipment appears almost limitless; from a box of tissues giving a 360-degree view of the room, to a child’s car seat, a brick and a key fob. Remote controls allow cameras to follow targets as they move around a room and have a powerful zoom to give high definition close-ups.

Recorders

As with cameras recording equipment is getting more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. From cigarette lighters to pens their are limitless ways to listen in on other people’s conversations. One firm offers a special strap microphone that straps to the wearer’s would be spies’ back and records conversations going on directly behind them. According to the brochure: “[This] is ideal because people in a crowd think that someone with their back turned can’t hear their conversation.. Operatives can work much closer to their target.”

Handheld ‘biometric cameras’

This system, made by a UK firm, is currently being used by British forces in Afghanistan to help troops identify potential terrorists. The brochure for the Mobile Biometric Platform says: “Innocent civilian or Insurgent? Not Certain? Our systems are.” It adds: “The MBP is tailored for military use and enables biometric enrolment and identification of finger, face and iris against on board watchlists in real time from live or forensic data.”

Mobile phone locators

It is now possible, from a single laptop computer, to locate where a mobile phone is calling from anywhere in the world, with an accuracy of between 200 metres and a mile. This is not done by attaching probes, and it is not limited to the area where the laptop is working from. The “cross border” system means it is now theoretically possible to locate a mobile phone call from a town abroad from a laptop in London.

Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor
The Guardian, Monday 18 November 2013 21.42 GMT

Find this story at 18 November 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Snowden case not the first embarrassment for Booz Allen, or D.C. contracting industry

When allegations of improper contracting behavior hit Booz Allen Hamilton, the national security consulting firm in McLean bounced back stronger than ever.

In 2008, a Booz Allen employee at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida was granted the highest-level “top secret” security clearance even though he had been convicted a few months earlier of lying to government officials in order to sneak a South African woman he had met on the Internet into the country.

Last year, the Air Force temporarily suspended the San Antonio division of the company from future contracts because it had obtained and distributed confidential Pentagon bidding data for its own competitive advantage. In 2006, the Justice Department said the company overbilled travel expenses, and the agency initially recommended that Booz Allen be barred from federal contracting.

Those incidents had little or no impact on Booz Allen’s success in recent years or on its ability to compete for federal contracts, which last year provided 99 percent of the company’s $5.8 billion in revenue.

Booz Allen now faces a greater test: Lawmakers and other officials are asking whether the company should be held to account for Edward Snowden, a former employee who had obtained national security documents and leaked them to the news media while at the firm.

But if the past is a guide, the government is not likely to scale back its reliance on Booz Allen or other large contractors soon, industry officials and policymakers agree. Although intelligence agency reliance on outside firms has declined some in recent years, the latest available estimates still show that about 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on contractors. And big, well-established companies continue to have outsize influence.

That is particularly true for Booz Allen, one of the most powerful firms within the government’s defense and national security structure. Nearly half of the company’s 24,500 workers have top-secret clearance.

The company also has deep connections within the defense and intelligence communities, including James R. Clapper Jr., a former Booz Allen executive who is the director of national intelligence, and R. James Woolsey, a former CIA director who was a senior vice president at the firm until 2008.

The man now heading Booz Allen’s intelligence operations, retired Vice Adm. John Michael McConnell, was the head of the National Security Agency in the mid-1990s and was appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush to lead the government’s newly established Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was set up to coordinate domestic and foreign intelligence gathering.

Those relationships and the sheer volume of work Booz Allen does for the federal government may have given the firm and others like it leverage when they face disciplinary actions, watchdog groups say.

The Project on Government Oversight testified in June that since 2000, there have been tens of thousands of suspension and debarment actions levied against companies and individuals. But its chief counsel said the number of large name-brand contractors, such as Booz Allen, that have been sanctioned can be counted on two hands.

“The government’s reliance on large contractors is often difficult to overcome,” said Scott Amey, general counsel to the nonprofit watchdog group, which maintains a contractor misconduct database. “Therefore, large contractors are in a powerful position to avoid suspension or debarment actions.”

There is no indication that Booz Allen faced penalties when its employee at MacDill received top-secret clearance despite his criminal record. The travel-overbilling case was settled with the payment of a fine.

Only the case concerning the San Antonio office resulted in an actual suspension. That action, taken by the Air Force, did not affect ongoing work and lasted two months.

The company declined comment on the past cases. But a spokesman, James Fisher, said, “Booz Allen is proud of our reputation for the highest ethical standards, built over nearly 100 years of service to our government and commercial clients.”

As the Snowden story continued to generate front-page news, Booz Allen chief executive Ralph Shrader predicted that his company would overcome the bad publicity from the Snowden leaks.

In remarks to employees at a “town hall” meeting late last month, Shrader said, “I think the important thing to understand is we cannot and will not let Snowden define us.”

“You define us. The work we do for our clients defines us, not the occasional aberrant in our midst,” he added. “There is nothing here for us to hang our heads about. We are a fine, fine firm. We stand on the list of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies. I plan to be on the list year after year.”

Past complaints

The disclosures by Snowden represent one of the most grievous breaches of security in the history of the super-secret NSA. Snowden, 30, who worked for just three months at Booz Allen, managed to obtain top-secret documents detailing broad government surveillance of telephone records and Internet traffic.

Little is known about how Snowden, a former security guard without a college degree, was able to get top-secret clearance and position himself at Booz Allen to obtain national security secrets.

“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the South China Morning Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

Booz Allen has accepted responsibility for past complaints of wrongdoing but continued to win contracts.

In 2006, the Justice Department proposed barring the company, along with four other major consultants, from participating in contracts for having received rebates from airlines, credit card companies and hotel chains while billing the government for the full undiscounted cost of the travel. The government dropped its lawsuits against the firms after they agreed to monetary settlements, with Booz Allen submitting nearly $3.4 million to the Treasury.

A few years later, the company received unwanted attention in a federal court prosecution of the MacDill employee working as a “counter threat analyst” at U.S. Central Command’s Joint Intelligence Operation Center in Tampa.

The employee, Scott Allan Bennett, had received one of the highest-level security clearances available in late 2008, even though a few months earlier he had been convicted of making “willful false and misleading representations” to the U.S. government.

The case, raised in Senate correspondence last week by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), concerned an effort Bennett made on behalf of a South African woman he had met on the Internet who wanted to visit the United States. According to court documents, Bennett sought to get her a visa by falsely claiming that she would be working with the White House and the State Department while in the United States. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

In 2010, Bennett was arrested again after appearing intoxicated at the gate to MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command. He was subsequently charged and convicted on weapons charges and charges of making additional false statements to the government.

At the trial in Tampa, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington asked how Bennett could receive a top-secret clearance after his conviction. The U.S. attorney’s office in Florida was unable to answer the question, according to news reports.

The judge’s concern was echoed in a letter written by Nelson to the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in June. “Serious quality-control questions have been raised here,” Nelson wrote, asking that the committee investigate such cases. “We may need legislation to limit or prevent certain contractors from handling highly classified and technical data.”

Now in prison at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pa., Bennett could not be reached for comment. His Washington attorney, Jeffrey O’Toole, declined to comment.

In 2012, the Air Force proposed barring the San Antonio office of Booz Allen from bidding on future contracts. The division had hired a Pentagon official who brought with him on his first day of work “non-public information,” which he shared with the company to help it win an information technology contract.

The Air Force lifted a temporary suspension on Booz Allen in April 2012 when the firm agreed to implement ethics and other reforms and pay $65,000. At the time, Booz Allen issued a statement saying that the company “accepts responsibility for that incident and related matters and agrees to implement firm-wide enhancements to its ethics and compliance program.”

Although the 2006 and 2012 requests for barring the company from bidding for certain contracts surprised those who follow intelligence contracting, those cases did not seem to damage the firm’s overall reputation.

“The company did have a few instances of misconduct,” said Steven Aftergood, who follows intelligence contracting for the Federation of American Scientists. “But that number is not terribly surprising for a company of that size.”

Yet the problems, in particular those raised by Snowden and other employees with improper access to confidential materials, suggests a broader systemic problem, Aftergood said.

“The current situation didn’t come about by accident,” he said. “It is the product of economic and political incentives that favor it. Those incentives continue to exist, so there is a serious question about how much it is going to change.”

Future of contracting

Booz Allen is hardly the only company touched by allegations of mishandled government contracts. In 2011, 1,094 individual and corporate contractors were suspended or barred by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security alone, according the latest available federal data. There were probably more, but transgressions by firms that contract intelligence work are not released publicly by the federal government.

Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the intelligence community has lessened its reliance on private-sector contractors.

In 2008, about 27 percent of intelligence-community security clearances had been granted to private-sector workers, he said. Today, that number has declined to about 18 percent.Overall, as of late 2012, 4.9 million people have been granted security clearances, about one-fifth of them work in the private sector, according to data made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

But the growth in contracting in defense and homeland security work continues. That has been fueled by several factors — ongoing public worry about terrorism, antipathy toward big government and an evolution in Washington’s revolving-door culture that provides extraordinary rewards to top government officials who go private, experts say.

Yet even outsourcing’s most vocal skeptics agree contractors are here to stay, despite what they contend are illusory savings.

“Curbing the use of contractors would be difficult or impossible,” said Chuck Alsup, a retired Army intelligence officer and vice president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, an Arlington County-based association of private companies and individual experts. “It would be, frankly, unwise.”

By Tom Hamburger and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Published: July 8
Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Find this story at 8 July 2013

© The Washington Post Company

Company allegedly misled government about security clearance checks

Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.

Cutting off USIS could present a major logistical quagmire for the nation’s already-jammed security clearance process. The federal government relies heavily on contractors to approve workers for some of its most sensitive jobs in defense and intelligence. Falls Church-based USIS is the largest single private provider for government background checks.

The inspector general of OPM, working with the Justice Department, is examining whether USIS failed to meet a contractual obligation that it would conduct reviews of all background checks the company performed on behalf of government agencies, the people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not yet been resolved.

After conducting an initial background check of a candidate for employment, USIS was required to perform a second review to make sure no important details had been missed. From 2008 through 2011, USIS allegedly skipped this second review in up to 50 percent of the cases. But it conveyed to federal officials that these reviews had, in fact, been performed.

The shortcut made it appear that USIS was more efficient than it actually was and may have triggered incentive awards for the company, the people briefed on the matter said. Investigators, who have briefed lawmakers on the allegations, think the strategy may have originated with senior executives, the people said.

Ray Howell, director of corporate communications at USIS, declined to comment on Thursday.

In a statement last week, USIS said it received a subpoena from the inspector general of OPM in January 2012. “USIS complied with that subpoena and has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigative efforts,” the statement said. The company would not comment on the Snowden case.

It is not known whether USIS did anything improper on its 2011 background check of Snowden, the 30-year-old who leaked documents about the inner workings of the NSA and is now the subject of a global drama. He gained access to those documents after he was cleared to work at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Last week, Patrick E. McFarland, the inspector general of OPM, said he has concerns about Snowden’s background check. “We do believe that there may be some problems,” he said.

The broader concerns about background checks are not limited to USIS. McFarland’s office has 47 open investigations into alleged wrongdoing by individuals in the background checks industry, according to a statement from the inspector general’s office. Separately, since 2006, the watchdog has won convictions in 18 cases in which employees claimed to have verified information that ultimately turned out to be false or not even checked.

“There is an alarmingly insufficient level of oversight of the federal investigative-services program,” McFarland said last week in congressional testimony. “A lack of independent verification of the organization that conducts these important background investigations is a clear threat to national security.”

McFarland’s office declined to comment on the details of the investigation. “We have never indicated whether the case was criminal, civil, or administrative,” a statement from the office said.

Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said USIS is the subject of a criminal probe as a result of a “systematic failure” to conduct background checks. She did not elaborate. A spokesperson said Thursday that the senator stands by her statement.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, said he plans to introduce legislation within two weeks to increase oversight of the security clearance process, including giving inspectors general more power to audit funding and other aspects of the massive effort to provide 4.9 million Americans with authorized access to classified and other sensitive government information.

“I cannot believe that this is handled in such a shoddy and cavalier manner,” Tester said in an interview Thursday. “I personally believe that if you are under criminal investigation, you should be suspended from the process until it is resolved.”

Tester added: “We have spent hundreds of billions in this country trying to keep classified information classified and to keep people from outside coming in. And what we see here is that we have a problem from the inside.”

USIS, which was spun off from the federal government in the 1990s, has become the dominant player in the background checks business. It does about 45 percent of all background checks for OPM, according to congressional staffers. USIS has 7,000 employees.

USIS has been under financial pressure in recent years because of federal cutbacks and less generous contracts from the government, according to financial analysts working at Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The firm’s parent company, Altegrity, is owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm. USIS has two main competitors, KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI.

By Tom Hamburger and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Published: June 28

Find this story at 28 June 2013

© The Washington Post Company

Warning of a ‘private army’ running Britain after government increases spending on security firm G4S by £65million

Controversial firm saw income from UK taxpayer rise by 20% last year
Company earned £394million in 2012-13, up from £328.5million
Labour MP Barry Sheerman warns of over-reliance on private contractors

Controversial security firm G4S has enjoyed a 20 per cent surge in government contracts despite a string of blunders, new figures show.

The company – which failed to recruit enough guards for the London Olympics – earned £394million from the taxpayer in 2012-13, up from £328.5million a year earlier.

The revelation sparked claims it was becoming the ‘private army’ of the state.

Security: The controversial firm G4S has seen a 20 per cent increase in its income from the UK government, raising fears of an over-reliance on a ‘private army’

With just weeks before the London Olympics opened in July last year, G4S admitted it would not be able to provide the thousands of guards it had promised.

Its reputation was severely damaged when 3,500 troops were called in to provide security at the biggest events.

In the wake of the debacle MPs called on the government to think again before awarding more lucrative contracts to the firm.

But it seems to have done little to dent its reputation in Whitehall, and next week it will provide security guarding the world’s most powerful men and women at the G8 summit at Lough Erne.

More…
Tories launch web assault on Labour and Lib Dems to put pressure on MPs to ‘Let Britain Decide’ on Europe
Number of over-65s still in work doubles in two decades to top 1million for the first time
Public-private pay gap widens even further: Average private sector earnings have ‘fallen faster’ than state employees during the recession

Labour MP Barry Sheerman, who obtained the figures on government spending with G4S, said he was worried about an increasing over-reliance on a small number of companies.

He warned: ‘The trouble is a lot of contractors are in a monopoly. They do seem to be swelling up and getting bigger and bigger and we are getting to the stage where the over-reliance on one company troubles you.

‘I am becoming increasingly worried about the monopoly position that G4S have in security services.

‘They are becoming the private army of Her Majesty’s Government. There is something going on that I think we need to shine a spotlight on.’

Blunder: The army had to be called in for the London Olympics after G4S failed to recruit enough guards last summer

Nick Buckles, who last month quit as G4S chief executive, admitted the Olympic security contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles’ for the company but Labour MP Barry Sheerman (right), who obtained the figures, warned of a few firms having a monopoly on state contracts

Most of the hike in Government spending on G4S contracts was down to an extra £51 million spent by the Ministry of Justice on contracts with the company.

A spokesman for the department said the increase was down to G4S being given contracts to run prisons at Birmingham and Oakwood, as well as managing the facilities of a large part of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.

The Department for Work and Pensions more than doubled its spend on G4S contracts – up from nearly £13.8 million to more than £32.1 million.
G4S: A HISTORY OF BLUNDERS

The UK-based security firm traces its roots back to a guarding company founded in Denmark in 1901.

G4S was formed when Group 4 merged with Securicor in 2004. The company has a long record of blunders including:

In 1993 Group 4 became the first private company to run prisoner escort services,m and lost seven inmates in three weeks

A year later a hunger striker escaped from Campsfield House detention centre, guarded by Group 4

In 1997 it emerged the firm had transferred a prisoner between two vans on a petrol station forecourt

Three prisoners escaped from Peterborough Crown Court in 2001

In 2011, G4S staff lost a set of cell keys just days after taking over Birmingham Prison Workers put an electronic tag on criminal Christopher Lowcock’s artificial limb

In 2012 the firm failed to train enough guards for the London Games which meant 3,500 soldiers had to be recalled from leave

In March this year a G4S guard at Heathrow ordered Royal Navy engineer Nicky Howse to change out of her uniform before flying to the US because it was ‘offensive’

A contract awarded to G4S for the Government’s Work Programme accounted for the increase, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said in his answer to Mr Sheerman’s question.

The figures do not include spending by the Department for Communities and Local Government which has not yet answered the MP’s question.

Mr Sheerman said it was ‘amazing’ that so much was being spent on G4S when it was failing to pay Olympic subcontractors that were ‘not complicit in the debacle’ of the company’s handling of security at London 2012.

‘I thought it was amazing that such an amount is being spent on one major contractor, also at a time when we still know that G4S have failed to pay subcontractors who have worked for them on the Olympic site,’ Mr Sheerman said.

He said some small and medium-sized businesses who worked on the Olympic site were made to subcontract to G4S by Locog, but now have not been paid.

‘I don’t know why they haven’t paid them, it is just bad principles,’ he said.

‘They were told at one stage in the development they were running the logistics and security of the athlete’s village.

‘Once that was finished they became subcontractors and told to be subcontractors to G4S.

‘One would have thought Locog would have leaned on G4S to do the honourable thing to the subcontractors.

‘They were not complicit in the debacle that occurred when the army came in.’

Kim Challis, G4S CEO of government and outsourcing solutions, said: ‘We have been working with the UK government for more than two decades, delivering the highest levels of service and under a high degree of monitoring and oversight.

‘We have won every contract we have been awarded by bidding in a highly competitive environment, based on delivering an effective service for the best deal for the taxpayer, with a number of providers challenging for the work.

‘We have a strong track record of delivering for our UK Government customers and are proud of the service our 11,000 employees provide to them, and the general public, every single day.’

Former G4S company boss Nick Buckles, who admitted the London 2012 contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles, last month quit his £1.2million-a-year role as chief executive.

He clung on to his job in the immediate aftermath of the Olympics debacle but the firm’s reputation suffered badly and in recent weeks poor trading caused shares to slump by more than 13 per cent in one day.

This month, G4S’s AGM was interrupted by protesters making reference to Jimmy Mubenga – an Angolan man who died while being deported from the UK by G4S guards.

In July last year, prosecutors said they would be taking no action against the three G4S staff over the death.

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

PUBLISHED: 12:36 GMT, 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 08:42 GMT, 13 June 2013

Find this story at 13 June 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Microsoft founder Bill Gates buys into G4S

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has given a vote of confidence to embattled British security firm G4S, despite a recent profit warning and ongoing controversy over the company’s Israeli prison contracts and the death of an Angolan man.

The US tech titan’s private investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, and his high-profile charitable fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, poured an extra £16m into G4S stock on Thursday, to increase their joint stake in the security giant to 3.2pc. The total holding is now worth around £110m.

Mr Gates’ endorsement will come as welcome relief following a year blighted by the company’s failure to supply enough security staff for the London Olympics. The fiasco eventually claimed the scalp of chief executive Nick Buckles, but only after a difficult first quarter in Europe prompted the company to issue a profits warning in May.

Last week, board members endured a stormy annual meeting, at which they faced repeated questions over three Israeli prison contracts in occupied Palestine and the death of Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga in 2010. Despite protests, G4S’ new chief executive Mr Almanza insisted at the fraught meeting that an independent study concluded that the company had not breached any aspect of “international humanitarian law”.

But this would not be the first time the $36.4bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest of its kind, has invested in a company that has faced fierce public criticism. The charitable trust holds stakes in BP and Exxon Mobil, which have both come under fire over catastrophic oil spills.

Mr Gates also has a history of investing in British companies, including Carpetright, Diageo and JJB Sports.

“The best guess would be that given the changes that have taken place at G4S over the past year, it’s probably an opportunity for G4S to set out a clear path,” said Steve Woolf, support services analyst at Numis.

“The underlying business is still very good. The share price has been quite beleaguered over the past 12 months. Now there is a chance to begin again and reinforce the core strategy.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was established by Mr Gates and his wife in 2000 with the goal of eradicating poverty and combating the world’s deadliest diseases.

By Denise Roland
4:29PM BST 10 Jun 2013

Find this story at 10 June 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

Most Analysis of Spy Data is Done by Private Contractors

The controversy involving Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency (NSA) leaks has drawn attention to the fact that most analysis of the government’s intelligence data is performed by private contractors, not government employees.

When it comes to examining and deciphering the enormous volumes of communications collected by the NSA, it’s companies like SAIC, CSC and Booz Allen Hamilton that do much of the work.

Snowden was just one of thousands of private contractor employees helping operate the NSA’s vast operation of finding threats before they manifest.

Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, estimates that about 70% of the federal government’s intelligence budgets are spent on the private sector.

Shorrock says if the 70% figure is applied to the NSA’s estimated budget (the official figure is classified) of $8 billion a year (the largest in the intelligence community), NSA could be spending as much as $6 billion on contractors.

Michael V. Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency, has said that “the largest concentration of cyber power on the planet” is located just down the street from NSA headquarters in Maryland. More specifically, he meant at the intersection of the Baltimore Parkway and Maryland Route 32, which is where all of NSA’s major contractors, from Booz to Northrop Grumman, carry out their surveillance and intelligence work for the agency.

With so many companies taking part in America’s spying activity, it is no wonder that private sector workers hold about 22% of all U.S. government security clearances and about 29% of top secret security clearances.

The Obama administration promised four years ago to substantially reduce this figure and put more of this highly sensitive work back in the hands of federal employees.

That hasn’t happened yet.

June 15, 2013 – Nth America – Tagged: 1984, corporatocracy, NSA, PRISM, US

By allgov.com

Find this story at 15 June 2013

Digital Blackwater: How the NSA Gives Private Contractors Control of the Surveillance State

As the Justice Department prepares to file charges against Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden for leaking classified documents about the National Security Agency, the role of private intelligence firms has entered the national spotlight. Despite being on the job as a contract worker inside the NSA’s Hawaii office for less than three months, Snowden claimed he had power to spy on almost anyone in the country. “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal email,” Snowden told The Guardian newspaper. Over the past decade, the U.S. intelligence community has relied increasingly on the technical expertise of private firms such as Booz Allen, SAIC, the Boeing subsidiary Narus and Northrop Grumman. About 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on the private sector. Former NSA Director Michael V. Hayden has described these firms as a quote “digital Blackwater.” We speak to Tim Shorrock, author of the book “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence.”
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: The U.S. government has begun the process of charging Edward Snowden with disclosing classified information after he leaked a trove of secret documents outlining the NSA’s surveillance programs. The FBI has already questioned Snowden’s relatives and associates. Snowden is a 29-year-old computer technician who formerly worked for the CIA. He reportedly turned over thousands of documents to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian newspaper, as well as to The Washington Post. Only a few have been published so far. His current whereabouts are unknown. Snowden flew from Hawaii to Hong Kong on May 20th. On Monday, he reportedly checked out of his Hong Kong hotel one day after The Guardian posted a video of him explaining his decision to leak the information.

AMY GOODMAN: Response to Edward Snowden’s actions has been mixed. On Capitol Hill, Senator Dianne Feinstein accused Snowden of committing treason. Meanwhile, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg called Snowden a hero, writing, quote, “In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material—and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago,” he said. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has also praised Edward Snowden.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Edward Snowden is a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious, serious events of the decade, which is the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state that has now coopted the courts, corrupted the courts in the United States, made them secret, made them produce orders which violate U.S. constitutional protections to nearly the entire population, and then, if that wasn’t enough, has embroiled U.S. high-tech companies like Google, Yahoo!, Skype, Facebook, etc., to extend that surveillance all across the world—the amount of collections from the United States alone revealed to be more than 2.4 billion in the month of March alone. And that is something that I and John Perry Barlow and many other journalists and civil libertarians have been campaigning on for a long time, so it’s very pleasing to see such clear and concrete proof presented to the public.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange speaking on Sky News. Up until a few weeks ago, Edward Snowden worked as a systems administrator inside the NSA’s office in Hawaii. His employer was not the U.S. government, but a military contractor called Booz Allen Hamilton. Over the past decade, the U.S. intelligence community has relied increasingly on the technical expertise of private firms such as Booz Allen, SAIC, the Boeing subsidiary Narus and Northrop Grumman. Former NSA director Michael V. Hayden has described these firms as a, quote, “digital Blackwater.” According to the journalist Tim Shorrock, about 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is spent on the private sector.

AARON MATÉ: The leaks by Edward Snowden have also raised questions over who has access to the nation’s biggest secrets. According to The Washington Post, authorities are unsure how a contract employee at a distant NSA satellite office was able to obtain a highly classified copy of an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. During his interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden claimed he had the power to spy on anyone, including the president.

EDWARD SNOWDEN: Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal email.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Edward Snowden and the privatized world of intelligence, we’re joined by Tim Shorrock, author of the book Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence . He has just written a piece for Salon.com entitled “Meet the Contractors Analyzing Your Private Data: Private Companies Are Getting Rich Probing Your Personal Information for the Government. Call It Digital Blackwater.” In fact, Tim Shorrock, explain who exactly called it “digital Blackwater.”

TIM SHORROCK: Well, this was said by Michael V. Hayden, who used to be the director of the NSA and was the director of the NSA when President Bush began the warrantless surveillance program back in 2001 right after 9/11. He has moved on from intelligence, the intelligence agencies, to become an executive with Chertoff Group, which is a large consulting company in Washington that works very closely with intelligence agencies and corporations advising them on cybersecurity and advising them on just basically security issues. And so, you know, he has cashed himself in and is making lots of money himself in this industry.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the former NSA and CIA director, General Michael Hayden, who, as you said, oversaw much of the privatization of the NSA from 1999 to 2005. This is him speaking in 2011.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: We may come to a point where defense is more actively and aggressively defined even for the—even for the private sector and what is permitted there is something we would never let the private sector do in physical space.

UNIDENTIFIED: That’s interesting.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: I mean, you look—well, I mean, let me really throw out a bumper sticker for you here: How about a digital Blackwater? OK? I mean, we have privatized certain defense activities, even in physical space. And now you’ve got a new domain in which we don’t have any paths trampled down in the forest in terms of what it is we expect the government or will allow the government to do. And in the past, in our history, when that has happened, private sector expands to fill the empty space. I’m not quite an advocate for that, but these are the kinds of things that are going to be put into play here very, very quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the former head of the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden. Tim Shorrock, talk about Booz Allen, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Edward Snowden and what this relationship is all about between Booz Allen and the NSA.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, the most astonishing thing I found in the articles in The Guardian and the revelation that he was from Booz Allen was that, in fact, Booz Allen Hamilton is involved at the—basically the darkest levels, the deepest levels of U.S. intelligence. If Mr. Snowden had access to these kinds of documents, such as these PRISM documents about surveillance on the Internet, as well as this FISA court order, that means practically anyone in Booz Allen who is in intelligence working for the NSA has access to the same kinds of documents. And American people should really know that now we have conclusive proof that these private-sector corporations are operating at the highest levels of intelligence and the military. I think that’s the bottom line here. It’s not curious—you know, the question is not why this low-level person at Booz Allen got these documents; the question is: Why is Booz Allen involved at this level of intelligence?

AARON MATÉ: Tim Shorrock, so, according to The New York Times, it’s gone so far that even the process of granting security clearances is often handled by contractors. So, can you talk about the duties that contractors are performing for the government on these intelligence matters?

TIM SHORROCK: Well, first of all, I want to comment on some of these stories in The New York Times and other newspapers. I mean, that’s an old story. Everyone knows that, you know, the security clearances is done by contractors. That’s been true for a decade or more. And, you know, Booz Allen has been around for years and years and years. The question is: Why haven’t these newspapers covered this? They cover intelligence as if there’s no private-sector involvement at all. And suddenly, they hear that Booz Allen is involved, and suddenly we have all these stream of articles about privatized intelligence. Well, welcome to the world of “digital Blackwater,” as Hayden calls it.

And, you know, specifically on Booz Allen and what these companies do, I mean, you know, they—as I wrote in my book, Spies for Hire, they do everything from, you know, CIA intervention in other countries; JSOC, you know, when it does raids, contractors are involved in finding out where people they attack are and determining the mapping and all that and the imagery to make sure that pilots and drones can hit the right people—or the wrong people. And they’re involved in the Defense Intelligence Agency. They’re involved in all military agencies that do intelligence. They do everything. They do everything that the government does.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s wrong with that?

TIM SHORROCK: What’s wrong with that is that it’s a for-profit operation. Many times, you have—inside these agencies, you have contractors overseeing other contractors, contractors, you know, giving advice to the agency about how to set its policies, what kind of technology to buy. And, of course, they have relationships with all the companies that they work with or that they suggest to the leaders of U.S. intelligence.

And I think, you know, a terrible example of this is, you know, a few months ago, I wrote a cover story for The Nation magazine about the NSA whistleblowers that you’ve had on this show a few times—Tom Drake, Bill Binney and the other two—and, you know, they blew the whistle on a huge project called Trailblazer that was contracted out to SAIC that was a complete failure. And this project was designed, from the beginning, by Booz Allen, Northrop Grumman and a couple other corporations who advised the NSA about how to acquire this project, and then decided amongst themselves to give it to SAIC, and then SAIC promised the skies and never produced anything, and the project was finally canceled in 2005.

And it’s very ironic that Michael Hayden says he’s not sure about, you know, this privatization. I mean, he’s the one who set this whole privatization in place. He’s the one who did it. He’s the one who pulled the trigger on it. And he’s responsible for this vast privatization of NSA, which, I have to say, began before 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Booz Allen Hamilton in terms of its other clients? Here it has this remarkable access to information. You know, as Edward Snowden said in his video statement, which we ran yesterday on Democracy Now!, he could wiretap almost anyone, at his level, and that a lot of people could. The information that people like Snowden get, can Booz Allen then share this information with other corporate clients it has?

TIM SHORROCK: Well, I don’t know that for sure, because it’s very difficult to penetrate these companies, but I don’t think so. I think what they do is they operate just like the intelligence community does, like the—you know, the NSA shares the information with other agencies. Of course, the NSA collects, is the main collector for the government in terms of signals intelligence, what comes over the Internet and telephone and cellphones and all that, and they pass that on to other agencies that request it. It goes to the president of the United States. It goes—it goes to all the high levels of the State Department and other agencies that need to know what’s going on both around the world and inside the United States. And so, I doubt that they would pass it to other corporations, but they certainly have their hands in it.

And I think if Booz Allen Hamilton is doing this and has access to such high-level documents, then you know that these other companies do, too—SAIC, Northrop Grumman, all of the companies you named at the top of the show. They have the same kinds of access, and they do—they do very much the same kinds of work that Booz Allen does. And I think it’s—like I said before, it’s just about time we recognized that this is really, you know, Intelligence Inc. This is a—you know, 70 percent of it is a for-profit operation. It’s a joint venture between government agencies and the private sector, and the private sector makes money off of it. They make big profits from this.

AARON MATÉ: Tim, I’m wondering if you can talk about some more—about these companies, specifically Narus and Palantir.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, Narus is the company that basically makes the technology that allows agencies, as well as corporations and telecom companies, to intercept traffic coming in, telecom traffic coming in, you know, from the outside, from other countries, on fiber-optic cables. And they have this incredible capacity to process information. And, you know, a few year—right after—you know, when this story started blowing up in the—after The New York Times blew the story on surveillance, warrantless surveillance, you know, there was this whistleblower at AT&T, this technician, who found that Narus equipment had been attached to AT&T’s switching center in San Francisco, and they were using this equipment to divert the entire—the entire traffic, all the whole—the whole—everything that was coming in, they diverted that to a secret room, and that went right into the NSA’s servers.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mark Klein.

TIM SHORROCK: And those—that’s what Narus—that’s what Narus technology does. And so, you know, that’s the key—

AMY GOODMAN: And Narus is owned by Boeing?

TIM SHORROCK: Boeing. It was bought by Boeing. It was actually—the company originated, actually, in Israel. You know, Israel has a very powerful equivalent to the National Security Agency. And it came out of—it came out of Israel, and then they brought their technology here, and they were very involved in the wiretapping right after—right after 9/11. And then Boeing bought them. And, of course, Boeing itself is a major intelligence contractor, through that company, and, you know, they used to—they own a company that used to transport a lot of these prisoners around that the CIA captured overseas.

AMY GOODMAN: And Palantir?

TIM SHORROCK: And you asked about—you asked about Palantir. It’s a Silicon Valley company that basically does data mining and mapping out relationships. I mean, all this—as I said in the Salon article yesterday, all this information and all this data that comes into the NSA has to be analyzed, and that’s what these companies they do that they hire. You know, they take—you know, NSA stores all this data. We know the story about this big Utah data center that’s just about to open. And they download it all there, and then they can go back to it. They can go back to it a day later, or they can go back to it months later or years later. And that’s one of the things that Mr. Snowden talked about in his interviews, was how they go back and analyze this data.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about The Guardian in its reports calling the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who fed them information, “whistleblower.” But the Associated Press says it would instead use terms like “source” or “leaker.” In a memo sent to reporters, it said, quote, “A whistle-blower is a person who exposes wrongdoing. It’s not a person who simply asserts that what he has uncovered is illegal or immoral. Whether the actions exposed by Snowden and [Bradley] Manning constitute wrongdoing is hotly contested. … Sometimes whether a person is a whistle-blower can be established only some time after the revelations, depending on what wrongdoing is confirmed or how public opinion eventually develops,” unquote. What do you make of what the AP is saying? I mean, of course, they change their—their definitions over time. We just saw them drop the word “illegal” when it comes to describing people.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, I think it’s kind of semantics. I mean, you know, he has blown the whistle on some actions that the NSA is doing, some programs the NSA is doing, that may be unconstitutional. And I think, you know, that’s why Daniel Ellsberg has had so much praise for him. I mean, he’s showing the underside of the war on terror, the underside of the surveillance state. And I think, in that sense, he’s a real whistleblower. You know, perhaps the difference between him and, say, the NSA Four—Tom Drake and Bill Binney and the others—is that, you know, the NSA Four did not leak information. I mean, they reported it through the chain of command, or they tried to. And what’s unfortunate was, you know, they tried to do this, and then they were caught up in an investigation of who leaked to The New York Times about the NSA surveillance program, and they were persecuted and investigated, and Tom Drake was actually indicted under the Espionage Act and charged with being a spy. Those charges were ridiculous, and the case completely collapsed, but nevertheless, that’s what happened to them. So, Snowden maybe looked at that and decided, you know, he’s just—you know, why go through channels? I mean, I think if we had a system where people could actually expose wrongdoing and without fear of being persecuted, that he may not have broken the law. And I think we need to look very carefully at that, because we need to protect people like this who want to expose wrongdoing.

AARON MATÉ: Tim Shorrock, is it harder for Snowden, as a private contractor, to try to blow the whistle than it would have been had he been working directly for the government?

TIM SHORROCK: Well, perhaps so. I’m not sure what the difference in how they might prosecute somebody like this, but clearly, from what’s being said, you know, today and what was said yesterday, they’re going after him. In fact, I’ve heard they may charge him under the Espionage Act. So, that’s what they would do to a government official, as well, or an intelligence officer who leaked the same kind of thing. So, I don’t really think it’s that much different. And like I said at the top of the show, you know, what really—what really amazed me was the fact that Booz Allen Hamilton, as a corporation, is involved at this level of intelligence. It’s not that this guy was just a low-level employee. It’s that this company is involved, and you have the private sector at that level of NSA.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think should be done differently? I mean, there’s two different issues here: One is the level of privatization of the military and intelligence, and the other is what Edward Snowden has actually revealed about what the U.S. government is doing with our information.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, what should we do about specifically what?

AMY GOODMAN: In terms of these private intelligence contractors and the access they have.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, you know, there’s been a process underway where the agencies are supposed to be doing, you know, inventories of the contractors and who they—what they do. And I think—you know, there was a report I saw recently from the inspector general of the Pentagon that looked at the Special Operations Command, which is—you know, Jeremy Scahill has been writing about it. It’s the most secretive part of the U.S. military, does these raids all over the world. And they looked at their contracts, and they found that a lot of JSOC and special operations contractors were doing inherently governmental work; in other words, they were doing things that, by law, should only be done by the government. And there was—at that level, there was very loose oversight.

And I think that we need to look, as a country, and the government certainly needs to do this, and Congress certainly needs to do this—you know, OK, it’s fine to buy technology from corporations, if they need it, but using corporations to fill your ranks, you know, to provide personnel—I mean, you go to these agencies, and it’s—you know, it’s not exactly like this, but it’s very much like a NASCAR race where they have logos, corporate logos, all over themselves. I mean, that’s what it’s like inside the NSA. You’ve got CSC over here. You’ve got Northrop Grumman over here, Lockheed Martin and so on.

Do we need to have the private sector doing all this analysis? I think that’s a very critical question to be asked. Do we want to have private corporations at the highest levels? And again, you know, if that’s something—that’s something that Congress, I believe, should really look at. And in the time that I’ve been covering this, as far as I recall, there’s only been one single hearing in Congress on this issue of intelligence contractors, and it was three years ago, and it was a pathetic hearing. They actually called me in for some advice, and they actually called Tom Drake in for advice, too. I didn’t know it at the time. And they—of course they didn’t use any of our suggestions. I—

AMY GOODMAN: The man they charged with espionage?

TIM SHORROCK: The man they—the man that was—had been charged earlier with espionage.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the U.S. government had been charged with espionage, who, of course, ultimately—

TIM SHORROCK: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —those charges were dropped—

TIM SHORROCK: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —and has been called by many a whistleblower.

TIM SHORROCK: Right. He’s a true whistleblower. And—but the point—you know, I said, “You know, you ought to call in the chief executives of Booz Allen Hamilton and all these companies, so the American people can meet the secret leaders of the intelligence community.” We know who Clapper is. We knew—you know, when Hayden was director, we knew who he was. But we don’t know these people running the corporations.

AMY GOODMAN: McConnell?

TIM SHORROCK: McConnell, Michael McConnell, used to be the director of national intelligence. Before that, he was NSA director. And, you know, in between, he was at Booz Allen Hamilton running their military intelligence programs. Now he’s back at Booz Allen Hamilton. So there’s this continuous flow of people in and out of the private sector back into government. It’s not even a revolving door; it’s just a spending door. But basically, what we have is an intelligence ruling class, public and private, that hold the secrets. And I think, you know, when Bill Binney talks about the Stasi, the East German police that listened to everybody, you know, look at, we have hundreds of thousands of contractors with security clearances. We have hundreds of thousands of federal workers in, you know, Homeland Security and intelligence. We have a massive number of people that are monitoring other Americans. I think it’s a very dangerous situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Tim Shorrock, I want to thank you for being with us, investigative reporter who covers national security. His most recent piece at Salon.com is “Meet the Contractors Analyzing Your Private Data: Private Companies Are Getting Rich Probing Your Personal Information for the Government. Call It Digital Blackwater.” He is author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll look at the Wal-Mart shareholders’ meeting and what happened outside and in. Stay with us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Find this story at 11 June 2013

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Phone Records Shared With U.K.

Data on U.S. customers, secretly collected from phone companies, has been shared with British security agencies, writes Eli Lake. Plus, everything you need to know about the NSA Spying Program.

At least one foreign government has gained access to sensitive data collected by the National Security Agency from U.S. telecommunications companies in dragnet court warrants demanding the secret transfer of U.S. customers’ calling records.

The information collected by the NSA, known as “metadata,” does not include the content of the phone calls or the names of the people associated with the accounts. But it does tell the government when calls were made, what numbers were dialed, and the location and duration of those calls. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the longstanding program to collect metadata from American telecommunications and Internet companies tell The Daily Beast that, in a few discreet cases, the NSA has shared unedited analysis of these records with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The Guardian on Friday reported that documents the newspaper obtained showed the GCHQ in 2010 gained access to an NSA metadata collection program known as Prism to secretly tap into the servers of leading internet companies such as Apple and Google. The documents showed the British generated 197 intelligence reports from access to the system in 2012, the Guardian reported.

Late Thursday, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement defending the government’s collection of phone records, which he said protected the privacy of most Americans. For example, Clapper said only specially trained personnel could access the vast database of metadata collected by the government. A secret body known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews the program every 90 days and only allows the government to query the database “when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.”

Clapper was responding to an article The Guardian published Wednesday based on a secret court order that demanded Verizon Business Network Services Inc. hand over to the federal government all “metadata” from its customers between April 25 and July 19. On Thursday the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees said the program had been in place since 2006, and the court order disclosed by The Guardian was a routine request by the government for the caller records. The Washington Post on Thursday disclosed that the NSA has also run a separate monitoring program to tap directly into the servers of nine U.S. Internet companies to extract information from users, ranging from video and audio files to emails.

With advances in computer science, intelligence services can now mine vast amounts of data collected by telecom companies, Internet service providers, and social-media sites for patterns that can illuminate terrorist networks and help solve crimes. Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters that he knew of one instance where the NSA metadata program thwarted a domestic terrorist attack.

‘Somebody’s gotta go to jail for something!’ Watch these amateur Internet pundits scold the NSA.
These metadata, these intelligence officers say, reside in vast hard drives that belong to the NSA. Analysts there can then take a phone number or email address and uncover suspected terrorists’ associates, find their locations, and even learn clues about their possible targets.

Peter Wood, the CEO of First Base Technologies, a security firm that works closely with British law enforcement in this area, says this kind of “big data” analysis can be useful to federal law enforcement.

“All emails have headers, which are full of information most people don’t see,” Wood says. “It allows law enforcement to trace the root and source of emails—that gives them the provenance of an email. This allows them to determine the physical origin of threats, if they can be sure the source of the email has not, in turn, been compromised itself.” Wood compared the analysis to how commercial Internet companies use similar data to target ads to individuals based on their search patterns.

“The big open question is what happens to this data when it’s collected.”
Sometimes, the analysis of metadata is shared between allied services, current and retired U.S. intelligence officers say. This is particularly true with the GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA.

One former senior U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the program tells The Daily Beast, “My understanding is if the British had a phone number, we might run the number through the database for them and provide them with the results.”

“I do not know of cases where the U.S. government has shared this kind of metadata with the United Kingdom, but I would be surprised if this never happened,” Wood says. “Both countries cooperate very closely on counterterrorism.”

The U.S. and the U.K. have an agreement to share signal intercepts and electronic intelligence through a pact known as the United Kingdom United States of America Agreement. Over the years, the agreement has been expanded to include Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said that British nationals were not permitted to sit at the actual terminals where NSA analysts mine the metadata collected from phone companies and Internet service providers. But British GCHQ has received unredacted analysis of targeted searches, according to these sources.

A spokeswoman for the NSA declined to comment for this article.

“The whole idea of sharing information that could be of value in a terrorism investigation would be a high priority, especially after 9/11,” says James Bamford, the author of three histories of the NSA, including his most recent book, The Shadow Factory. “If the United States feels it got the information legally, which it does in this case, then from all I know the NSA believes it has the authority to pass the intelligence on to intelligence partners.”

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, says he is worried about what becomes of the records collected by the NSA. “The big open question is what happens to this data when it’s collected,” Jaffer says. “Is it shared amongst agencies? Is it used in law-enforcement investigations? Has it been used in prosecutions? And has it been shared with foreign countries—and which foreign countries has it been shared with and under what conditions?”

The Daily Beast
by Eli Lake Jun 7, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

Find this story at 7 June 2013

© 2013 The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC

Verizon giving US government information about British companies

American telecoms giant Verizon has been handing information about British companies to the US government, putting it on a collision course with UK regulators.
On Verizon’s UK website, the company makes a point of telling customers it will help to defend them against spying by government agencies Photo: AP

The company has found itself at the centre of a major scandal in the US, after it emerged that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of millions of customers on an “ongoing, daily basis”, under a top-secret court order issued in April.

The US is also reaching directly into the servers of Facebook, Google and other internet companies to harvest data. The NSA’s classified PRISM programme reportedly allows the government to collect virtually limitless amounts of information from emails, pictures and social media accounts.

Verizon on Thursday battled to prevent a customer backlash by telling them it had no choice in the matter. The Obama administration justified the surveillance, claiming it was a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats”.

Two other major American wireless providers, AT&T and Sprint, have also been receiving similar orders, as have credit card companies, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

It is not clear whether Verzion Wireless, the US wireless operator owned by Verizon and Britain’s Vodafone, has received an order. Vodafone, which owns 45pc and has no operational role in the company, had no comment on Friday.
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Verizon’s court order did not just stop at US shores. Washington called for Verizon to hand over all telephone records “for communications between the United States and abroad”, including calls routed via Verizon’s UK subsidiary, based in Reading.

On Verizon’s UK website, the company makes a point of telling customers it will help to defend them against spying by government agencies.

“Whether global or local, [your communications] must be secure because there are many threats to your organisation, from those that want to destroy your reputation and from those that want to take what’s yours,” the company says in a video entitled “2013 data breach”.

“This year’s most talked about threat is espionage… with many [breaches] tracing back to state affiliated culprits, taking months or even years to detect.”

However, the US government’s secret court order instructed Verizon to collect the numbers of the people at either end of each call, information about their location and the time and length of the conversation. It was not asked to record the actual conversations, but it was obliged to hold the information for a minimum of three months.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the regulator responsible for safeguarding privacy in the UK, is expected to investigate the security breach.

When ordinary customers make calls out of the US, their network will connect them to the UK network they are calling, meaning Verizon has limited information about calls. However, it has comprehensive details about business customers making calls to colleagues across the Atlantic, as their calls are kept within the confines of the same network. Verizon would have pulled the information from its UK servers.

These so-called enterprise systems are theoretically designed to reduce costs and boost security.

Verizon could not be reached for comment.

Unlike the phone tracking programme, where telecom companies are forced to hand over records, PRISM appears to allow the NSA to freely search the tech firms’ networks at any time.

PRISM also allows the government access to the content of online accounts, whereas the phone programme provides data on the time and location of a call but does not tell investigators what was said.

A secret slide show obtained by The Guardian and The Washington Post appear to indicate that the nine companies are willing participants in the programme, beginning with Microsoft in 2007.

However, the Guardian reported that several of the companies claimed to have no knowledge of that their servers were being accessed by the government.

Google said in a statement: “From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”

An Apple spokesman said: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers and any agency requesting customer data must get a court order,” he said.

The scale of the operation is detailed in a 41-page slideshow obtained by the two newspapers, which describes PRISM as the single largest source of NSA data.

By Katherine Rushton, US Business Editor

10:30AM BST 07 Jun 2013

Find this story at 7 June 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

We Call a Top NSA Whistleblower … And Get the REAL SCOOP on Spying

Government Tapping CONTENT, Not Just Metadata … Using Bogus “Secret Interpretation” of Patriot Act

We reported in 2008 that foreign companies have had key roles scooping up Americans’ communications for the NSA:

At least two foreign companies play key roles in processing the information.

Specifically, an Israeli company called Narus processes all of the information tapped by AT &T (AT & T taps, and gives to the NSA, copies of all phone calls it processes), and an Israeli company called Verint processes information tapped by Verizon (Verizon also taps, and gives to the NSA, all of its calls).

Business Insider notes today:

The newest information regarding the NSA domestic spying scandal raises an important question: If America’s tech giants didn’t ‘participate knowingly’ in the dragnet of electronic communication, how does the NSA get all of their data?

One theory: the NSA hired two secretive Israeli companies to wiretap the U.S. telecommunications network.

In April 2012 Wired’s James Bamford — author of the book “The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” — reported that two companies with extensive links to Israel’s intelligence service provided hardware and software the U.S. telecommunications network for the National Security Agency (NSA).

By doing so, this would imply, companies like Facebook and Google don’t have to explicitly provide the NSA with access to their servers because major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon already allows the U.S. signals intelligence agency to eavesdrop on all of their data anyway.

From Bamford (emphasis ours):

“According to a former Verizon employee briefed on the program, Verint, owned by Comverse Technology, taps the communication lines at Verizon…

At AT&T the wiretapping rooms are powered by software and hardware from Narus, now owned by Boeing, a discovery made by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein in 2004.”

Klein, an engineer, discovered the “secret room” at AT&T central office in San Francisco, through which the NSA actively “vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” through the wiretapping rooms, emphasizing that “much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.”

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake corroborated Klein’s assertions, testifying that while the NSA is using Israeli-made NARUS hardware to “seize and save all personal electronic communications.”

Both Verint and Narus were founded in Israel in the 1990s.

***

“Anything that comes through (an internet protocol network), we can record,” Steve Bannerman, marketing vice president of Narus, a Mountain View, California company, said. “We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their (voice over internet protocol) calls.”

With a telecom wiretap the NSA only needs companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple to passively participate while the agency to intercepts, stores, and analyzes their communication data. The indirect nature of the agreement would provide tech giants with plausible deniability.

And having a foreign contractor bug the telecom grid would mean that the NSA gained access to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the U.S. without technically doing it themselves.

This would provide the NSA, whose official mission is to spy on foreign communications, with plausible deniability regarding domestic snooping.

The reason that Business Insider is speculating about the use of private Israeli companies to thwart the law is that 2 high-ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee – Senators Wyden and Udall – have long said that the government has adopted a secret interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act which would shock Americans, because it provides a breathtakingly wide program of spying.

Last December, top NSA whistleblower William Binney – a 32-year NSA veteran with the title of senior technical director, who headed the agency’s global digital data gathering program (featured in a New York Times documentary, and the source for much of what we know about NSA spying) – said that the government is using a secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act which allows the government to obtain:

Any data in any third party, like any commercial data that’s held about U.S. citizens ….

(relevant quote starts at 4:19).

I called Binney to find out what he meant.

I began by asking Binney if Business Insider’s speculation was correct. Specifically, I asked Binney if the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was that a foreign company – like Narus, for example – could vacuum up information on Americans, and then the NSA would obtain that data under the excuse of spying on foreign entities … i.e. an Israeli company.

Binney replied no … it was broader than that.

Binney explained that the government is taking the position that it can gather and use any information about American citizens living on U.S. soil if it comes from:

Any service provider … any third party … any commercial company – like a telecom or internet service provider, libraries, medical companies – holding data about anyone, any U.S. citizen or anyone else.

I followed up to make sure I understood what Binney was saying, asking whether the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was that the government could use any information as long as it came from a private company … foreign or domestic. In other words, the government is using the antiquated, bogus legal argument that it was not using its governmental powers (called “acting under color of law” by judges), but that it was private companies just doing their thing (which the government happened to order all of the private companies to collect and fork over).

Binney confirmed that this was correct. This is what the phone company spying program and the Prism program – the government spying on big Internet companies – is based upon. Since all digital communications go through private company networks, websites or other systems, the government just demands that all of the companies turn them over.

Let’s use an analogy to understand how bogus this interpretation of the Patriot Act is. This argument is analogous to a Congressman hiring a hit man to shoot someone asking too many questions, and loaning him his gun to carry out the deed … and then later saying “I didn’t do it, it was that private citizen!” That wouldn’t pass the laugh test even at an unaccredited, web-based law school offered through a porn site.

I then asked the NSA veteran if the government’s claim that it is only spying on metadata – and not content – was correct. We have extensively documented that the government is likely recording content as well. (And the government has previously admitted to “accidentally” collecting more information on Americans than was legal, and then gagged the judges so they couldn’t disclose the nature or extent of the violations.)

Binney said that was not true; the government is gathering everything, including content.

Binney explained – as he has many times before – that the government is storing everything, and creating a searchable database … to be used whenever it wants, for any purpose it wants (even just going after someone it doesn’t like).

Binney said that former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente is correct when he says that no digital data is safe (Clemente says that all digital communications are being recorded).

Binney gave me an idea of how powerful Narus recording systems are. There are probably 18 of them around the country, and they can each record 10 gigabytes of data – the equivalent of a million and a quarter emails with 1,000 characters each – per second.

Binney next confirmed the statement of the author of the Patriot Act – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner – that the NSA spying programs violate the Patriot Act. After all, the Patriot Act is focused on spying on external threats … not on Americans.

Binney asked rhetorically: “How can an American court [FISA or otherwise] tell telecoms to cough up all domestic data?!”

Update: Binney sent the following clarifying email about content collection:

It’s clear to me that they are collecting most e-mail in full plus other text type data on the web.

As for phone calls, I don’t think they would record/transcribe the approximately 3 billion US-to-US calls every day. It’s more likely that they are recording and transcribing calls made by the 500,000 to 1,000,000 targets in the US and the world.

Posted on June 8, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog

Find this story at 8 June 2013

© 2007 – 2013 Washington’s Blog

What was the Israeli involvement in collecting U.S. communications intel for NSA?

Israeli high-tech firms Verint and Narus have had connections with U.S. companies and Israeli intelligence in the past, and ties between the countries’ intelligence agencies remain strong.

Were Israeli companies Verint and Narus the ones that collected information from the U.S. communications network for the National Security Agency?

The question arises amid controversy over revelations that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans every day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the United States. It also was disclosed this week that the NSA has been gathering all Internet usage – audio, video, photographs, emails and searches – from nine major U.S. Internet providers, including Microsoft and Google, in hopes of detecting suspicious behavior that begins overseas.

According to an article in the American technology magazine “Wired” from April 2012, two Israeli companies – which the magazine describes as having close connections to the Israeli security community – conduct bugging and wiretapping for the NSA.

Verint, which took over its parent company Comverse Technology earlier this year, is responsible for tapping the communication lines of the American telephone giant Verizon, according to a past Verizon employee sited by James Bamford in Wired. Neither Verint nor Verizon commented on the matter.

Natus, which was acquired in 2010 by the American company Boeing, supplied the software and hardware used at AT&T wiretapping rooms, according to whistleblower Mark Klein, who revealed the information in 2004. Klein, a past technician at AT&T who filed a suit against the company for spying on its customers, revealed a “secret room” in the company’s San Fransisco office, where the NSA collected data on American citizens’ telephone calls and Internet surfing.

Klein’s claims were reinforced by former NSA employee Thomas Drake who testified that the agency uses a program produced by Narus to save the personal electrical communications of AT&T customers.

Both Verint and Narus have ties to the Israeli intelligence agency and the Israel Defense Forces intelligence-gathering unit 8200. Hanan Gefen, a former commander of the 8200 unit, told Forbes magazine in 2007 that Comverse’s technology, which was formerly the parent company of Verint and merged with it this year, was directly influenced by the technology of 8200. Ori Cohen, one of the founders of Narus, told Fortune magazine in 2001 that his partners had done technology work for the Israeli intelligence.

International intel

The question of whether intelligence communities outside the United States were involved has been raised. According to The Guardian, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s intelligence agency, secretly collected intelligence information from the world’s largest Internet companies via the American program PRISM. According to a top secret document obtained by The Guardian, GCHQ had access to PRISM since 2010 and it used the information to prepare 197 intelligence reports last year. In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ, said it “takes its obligations under the law very seriously.”

According to The Guardian, details of GCHQ’s use of PRISM are set out in a 41-page PowerPoint presentation prepared for senior NSA analysts, and describe a “snooping” operation that gave the NSA and FBI access to the systems of nine Internet giants, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.

Given the close ties between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the question arises as to whether Israeli intelligence, including the Mossad, was party to the secret.

Obama stands by spies

At turns defensive and defiant, U.S. President Barack Obama stood by the spy programs revealed this week.

He declared Friday that his country is “going to have to make some choices” balancing privacy and security, launching a vigorous defense of formerly secret programs that sweep up an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day and amass Internet data from U.S. providers in an attempt to thwart terror attacks.

Obama also warned that it will be harder to detect threats against the United States now that the two top-secret tools to target terrorists have been so thoroughly publicized.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama assured the nation after two days of reports that many found unsettling. What the government is doing, he said, is digesting phone numbers and the durations of calls, seeking links that might “identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.” If there’s a hit, he said, “if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation.”

Tapping thwarted terror attack

While Obama said the aim of the programs is to make America safe, he offered no specifics about how the surveillance programs have done this. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on Thursday said the phone records sweeps had thwarted a domestic terror attack, but he also didn’t offer specifics.

U.S. government sources said on Friday that the attack in question was an Islamist militant plot to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009.

Obama asserted his administration had tightened the phone records collection program since it started in the George W. Bush administration and is auditing the programs to ensure that measures to protect Americans’ privacy are heeded – part of what he called efforts to resist a mindset of “you know, `Trust me, we’re doing the right thing. We know who the bad guys are.'”

But again, he provided no details on how the program was tightened or what the audit is looking at.

Obama: 100% privacy is impossible

The furor this week has divided Congress, and led civil liberties advocates and some constitutional scholars to accuse Obama of crossing a line in the name of rooting out terror threats.

Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, strove to calm Americans’ fears – but also remind them that Congress and the courts had signed off on the surveillance.

“I think the American people understand that there are some trade-offs involved,” Obama said when questioned by reporters at a health care event in San Jose, California.

“It’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. And what I can say is that in evaluating these programs, they make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”

Obama said U.S. intelligence officials are looking at phone numbers and lengths of calls – not at people’s names – and not listening in.

The two classified surveillance programs were revealed this week in newspaper reports that showed, for the first time, how deeply the National Security Agency dives into telephone and Internet data to look for security threats. The new details were first reported by The Guardian and The Washington Post, and prompted Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to take the unusual and reluctant step of acknowledging the programs’ existence.

Obama echoed intelligence experts – both inside and outside the government – who predicted that potential attackers will find other, secretive ways to communicate now that they know that their phone and Internet records may be targeted.

By TheMarker, Haaretz, The Associated Press and Reuters | Jun.08, 2013 | 12:41 PM | 17

Find this story at 8 June 2013

© Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd.

U.S. Collects Vast Data Trove; NSA Monitoring Includes Three Major Phone Companies, as Well as Online Activity

WASHINGTON—The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.

Jerry Seib explains how the far-reaching data collection conducted by the U.S. government includes phone companies in addition to Verizon, plus Internet service providers and Apple. Photo: Getty Images

The disclosure this week of an order by a secret U.S. court for Verizon Communications Inc.’s phone records set off the latest public discussion of the program. But people familiar with the NSA’s operations said the initiative also encompasses phone-call data from AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers.

The Obama administration says its review of complete phone records of U.S. citizens is a “necessary tool” in protecting the nation from terror threats. Is this the accepted new normal, or has the Obama administration pushed the bounds of civil liberties? Cato Institute Director of Information Policy Studies Jim Harper weighs in. Photo: Getty Images.

The agency is using its secret access to the communications of millions of Americans to target possible terrorists, said people familiar with the effort.

The NSA’s efforts have become institutionalized—yet not so well known to the public—under laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most members of Congress defended them Thursday as a way to root out terrorism, but civil-liberties groups decried the program.
Vote and comment

The National Security Agency is obtaining phone records from all Verizon U.S. customers under a secret court order, according to a newspaper report and ex-officials. WSJ intelligence correspondent Siobhan Gorman joins MoneyBeat. Photo: AP.

“Everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything that is brand new,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who added that the phone-data program has “worked to prevent” terrorist attacks.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said the program is lawful and that it must be renewed by the secret U.S. court every three months. She said the revelation about Verizon, reported by the London-based newspaper the Guardian, seemed to coincide with its latest renewal.
All Things D
The Laws That Make It Easy for the Government to Spy on Americans
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What the NSA Wants to Know About You and Your Phone
Tech Companies’ Data Is Also Tapped
FISA Court in Focus
Obama’s Civil-Liberties Record Questioned
When NSA Calls, Companies Answer
Mixed Reactions on Hill
Lawmakers Push Holder for Briefing on Phone Records | More Reaction
Verizon Says Must Comply with Data Requests
Government Is Tracking Verizon Calls
NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows as Agency Sweeps Up Data (3/10/2008)
NSA Exceeds Legal Limits in Eavesdropping Program (4/16/2009)
U.S. Plans ‘Perfect Citizen’ Cyber Shield for Utilities, Companies (7/8/2010)
NSA Activities Violated Fourth Amendment Rights, Letter Discloses (7/20/2012)

Civil-liberties advocates slammed the NSA’s actions. “The most recent surveillance program is breathtaking. It shows absolutely no effort to narrow or tailor the surveillance of citizens,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday a secret NSA program dubbed Prism, which a senior administration official said targets only foreigners and was authorized under U.S. surveillance law. The Washington Post and the Guardian reported earlier Thursday the existence of the previously undisclosed program, which was described as providing the NSA and FBI direct access to server systems operated by tech companies that include Google Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Skype. The newspapers, citing what they said was an internal NSA document, said the agencies received the contents of emails, file transfers and live chats of the companies’ customers as part of their surveillance activities of foreigners whose activity online is routed through the U.S. The companies mentioned denied knowledge or participation in the program.

The arrangement with Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, the country’s three largest phone companies means, that every time the majority of Americans makes a call, NSA gets a record of the location, the number called, the time of the call and the length of the conversation, according to people familiar with the matter. The practice, which evolved out of warrantless wiretapping programs begun after 2001, is now approved by all three branches of the U.S. government.

AT&T has 107.3 million wireless customers and 31.2 million landline customers. Verizon has 98.9 million wireless customers and 22.2 million landline customers while Sprint has 55 million customers in total.

NSA also obtains access to data from Internet service providers on Internet use such as data about email or website visits, several former officials said. NSA has established similar relationships with credit-card companies, three former officials said.

It couldn’t be determined if any of the Internet or credit-card arrangements are ongoing, as are the phone company efforts, or one-shot collection efforts. The credit-card firms, phone companies and NSA declined to comment for this article.
From the Archives

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Video: U.S. Data Gathering Highlights Carriers’ Balancing Act
Video: U.S. Tracks Verizon Calls: A Lawyer’s Take

Though extensive, the data collection effort doesn’t entail monitoring the content of emails or what is said in phone calls, said people familiar with the matter. Investigators gain access to so-called metadata, telling them who is communicating, through what medium, when, and where they are located.

But the disconnect between the program’s supporters and detractors underscored the difficulty Congress has had navigating new technology, national security and privacy.

The Obama administration, which inherited and embraced the program from the George W. Bush administration, moved Thursday to forcefully defend it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called it “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats.”

But Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), said he has warned about the breadth of the program for years, but only obliquely because of classification restrictions.

“When law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information,” he said. “Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy.”

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, phone records were collected without a court order as a component of the Bush-era warrantless surveillance program authorized by the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which permitted the collection of business records, former officials said.

The ad hoc nature of the NSA program changed after the Bush administration came under criticism for its handling of a separate, warrantless NSA eavesdropping program.

President Bush acknowledged its existence in late 2005, calling it the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP.

When Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006, promising to investigate the administration’s counterterrorism policies, Bush administration officials moved to formalize court oversight of the NSA programs, according to former U.S. officials.

Congress in 2006 also made changes to the Patriot Act that made it easier for the government to collect phone-subscriber data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Those changes helped the NSA collection program become institutionalized, rather than one conducted only under the authority of the president, said people familiar with the program.

Along with the TSP, the NSA collection of phone company customer data was put under the jurisdiction of a secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to officials.

David Kris, a former top national security lawyer at the Justice Department, told a congressional hearing in 2009 that the government first used the so-called business records authority in 2004.

At the time he was urging the reauthorization of the business-records provisions, known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Congress later approved.

The phone records allow investigators to establish a database used to run queries when there is “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the records are relevant and related to terrorist activity, Ms. Feinstein said Thursday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also issued a defense of the phone data surveillance program, saying it is governed by a “robust legal regime.” Under the court order, the data can only “be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.” When the data is searched, all information acquired is “subject to strict restrictions on handling” overseen by the Justice Department and the surveillance court, and the program is reviewed roughly every 90 days, he said. Another U.S. official said less than 1% of the records are accessed.

The database allows investigators to “map” individuals connected with that information, said Jeremy Bash, who until recently was chief of staff at the Pentagon and is a former chief counsel to the House Intelligence committee.

“We are trying to find a needle in a haystack, and this is the haystack,” Mr. Bash said, referring to the database.

Sen. Wyden on Thursday questioned whether U.S. officials have been truthful in public descriptions of the program. In March, Mr. Wyden noted, he questioned Mr. Clapper, who said the NSA did not “wittingly” collect any type of data pertaining to millions Americans. Spokesmen for Mr. Clapper didn’t respond to requests for comment.

For civil libertarians, this week’s disclosure of the court authorization for part of the NSA program could offer new avenues for challenges. Federal courts largely have rebuffed efforts that target NSA surveillance programs, in part because no one could prove the information was being collected. The government, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has successfully used its state-secrets privilege to block such lawsuits.

Jameel Jaffer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, said the fact the FISA court record has now become public could give phone-company customers standing to bring a lawsuit.

“Now we have a set of people who can show they have been monitored,” he said.

Updated June 7, 2013, 9:25 a.m. ET

By SIOBHAN GORMAN, EVAN PEREZ and JANET HOOK

—Danny Yadron and Jennifer Valentino-DeVries contributed to this article.

Find this story at 7 June 2013

 

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

NSA revelations put Booz Allen Hamilton, Carlyle Group in uncomfortable limelight

The Carlyle Group has spent years attempting to shed its image as a well-connected private equity firm leveraging Washington heavyweights in the defense sector. Instead, it nurtured a reputation as a financially sophisticated asset manager that buys and sells everything from railroads to oil refineries.

The recent disclosures involving National Security Agency surveillance on U.S. citizens by an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, a Virginia consulting firm that is majority owned by Carlyle, has thrust two of Washington’s most prominent corporate entities uncomfortably into the limelight, bound by the thread of turning government secrets into profits.

Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden was fired Tuesday after he confessed to being the source of stories about NSA data collection programs. Federal investigators are examining how Snowden, who worked at an NSA facility in Hawaii and had also worked for the CIA, was able to gain access to sensitive information.

Carlyle declined to comment.

Booz Allen, based in Tysons Corner, has been a local fixture for years, employing thousands and providing management and consulting services to the government, particularly the defense and intelligence agencies. It even sponsored a local golf tournament — the Booz Allen Classic — between 2004 and 2006.

It also became a leader among the contractors supplying tens of thousands of intelligence analysts to the government in recent years, including technologists such as Snowden.

Those government contracts, and thousands more like them, in 2008 made Booz Allen a ripe acquisition target for Carlyle.

It paid $2.54 billion for Booz Allen as a deep recession took hold. Fearing the risks of taking on too much debt in the midst of a financial crisis, Carlyle put up 50 percent cash instead of its normal 30 percent. It borrowed the rest to buy the company, which was then privately held.

Upon the close of the deal, the less profitable international and commercial business was spun off to become Booz & Co., leaving Carlyle with a government-only company.

After the split, the new Booz Allen Hamilton established an incentive-based compensation structure that gave the remaining partners a stake in the firm’s success. In effect, said one person close to the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly, “you got to eat what you killed.”

The incentives helped spur profits.

“Everybody has a responsibility, depending on your title, to bring in a certain amount of business,” said William Loomis, managing director at financial services firm Stifel Nicolaus.

Booz Allen, which employs 24,500, had a net profit of $219 million on revenue of nearly $5.8 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31. For the same period ending in 2010, the year the company went public, the company earned $25 million on $5.1 billion in revenue.

George A. Price Jr., senior equity research analyst for aerospace, defense and government services at BB&T Capital Markets, said “they’ve got a great brand, they’ve focused over time on hiring top people, including bringing on people who have a lot of senior government experience.”

Carlyle has cashed in on the increased demand of Booz Allen’s services. As profits and revenue have grown, Booz Allen has borrowed money to pay dividends to shareholders, including Carlyle.

Carlyle collected nearly $550 million in dividends in 2009 alone. Last year, Booz Allen issued another special shareholder dividend valued at $765 million — most of which went to Carlyle investors.

Booz Allen went public in 2010, and Carlyle now owns 95.66 million shares — around 69 percent of the total shares outstanding — valued at about $1.66 billion at the current stock price.

As government contracting began to wane, Booz Allen has pursued commercial work and opened an office in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The contractor, for instance, is marketing cybersecurity and other services to Middle Eastern companies and governments.

The moves are at least partly in response to federal budget cutting, which has taken a toll on the business.

“We consider ourselves a well-run company, and in the past year we’ve become even better in managing our business in a difficult market for government contracting,” Booz Allen spokesman James Fisher said.

Price, the analyst, said the company has seen revenue and profit declines more recently. “They’re not immune from the current environment,” he said, adding that the cuts the company has made have “blunted” the effect.

Carlyle may ultimately reap as much as $3 billion on its initial nearly $1 billion investment. In the end, Booz Allen is shaping up to be one of the firm’s biggest home runs.

By Thomas Heath and Marjorie Censer, Published: June 12

Find this story at 12 June 2013

© The Washington Post Company

Leak highlights risk of outsourcing US spy work

WASHINGTON: The explosive leak uncovering America’s vast surveillance program highlights the risks Washington takes by entrusting so much of its defense and spy work to private firms, experts said on Monday.

From analyzing intelligence to training new spies, jobs that were once performed by government employees are now carried out by paid contractors, in a dramatic shift that began in the 1990s amid budget pressures.

Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old man whose leak uncovered how spy agencies sift through phone records and Internet traffic, is among a legion of private contractors who make up nearly 30 percent of the workforce in intelligence agencies.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the use of contractors boomed, as government agencies turned to private firms in the global hunt for terror suspects, touting it as a cost-effective way to avoid a permanent increase in the number of civil servants.

As a “contractor alley” rose in the suburbs of northern Virginia outside Washington, the increasing reliance on contractors by the Pentagon and spy services has often been criticized as wasteful and possibly corrupt. But some former intelligence officers and experts warn that it also opens up the spy agencies to big security risks.

The contractors who wear a “green badge” to enter government offices may lack the ethos and discretion of career intelligence officers who wear the “blue badge,” according to John Schindler, a former analyst at the National Security Agency and counterintelligence officer. In a series of tweets, Schindler, who now teaches at the Naval War College, heaped scorn on Snowden for spilling secrets.

But he said it was not surprising the disclosure came from a “green badge” holder and suggested sensitive information technology jobs should not be contracted out. “Been telling my CI (counter intelligence) peeps for years that NSA & IC ( intelligence community) only 1 disgruntled, maladjusted IT dork away from disaster (esp IT contractor)…oh well,” he wrote.

Systems administrators are the 21st century equivalent of the Cold War-era “code clerks,” he said, as they may not hold a high rank but have access to vital information.

Most contractors are former military or intelligence officers, and America’s top spy chief, James Clapper, once worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the same firm that employed Snowden. Another former national intelligence director, Michael McConnell, also worked at the firm before and after holding the director’s post.

Booz Allen has profited heavily from intelligence work, reportedly earning $1.3 billion or 23 percent of its total revenue from contracts with spy agencies. Former CIA director and defense secretary Robert Gates has voiced concern that too much sensitive work has been farmed out to private companies.

“You want somebody who’s really in it for a career because they’re passionate about it and because they care about the country and not just because of the money,” he told the Washington Post in 2010.

A special website lists job openings for those with security credentials, clearancejobs.com, with positions advertised such as “Intelligence Analyst 3/Targeter” for Northrop Grumman.

“The primary function of a Specialized Skills Officer is to collaborate with a team of intelligence professionals in support of HUMINT operations against priority targets,” said the notice for a workplace in McLean, Virgina.

But the threat of damaging leaks may have less to do with a dependence on contractors and more to do with a younger generation’s distrust of Washington, said James Lewis, a former senior official and cyber security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Private contracting does not in and itself pose a serious threat to keeping secrets, Lewis told AFP. “It’s a risk because of the differing attitudes of generations,” he said. “People who haven’t been in the federal service for a long time, who have this view of government shaped by the popular culture are probably more inclined to do this.”

He noted that the most extensive leak of US classified documents came not from a contractor but a low-ranking soldier in the US Army, Private Bradley Manning, who is on trial on espionage charges after admitting to handing over hundreds of thousands of secret files to the WikiLeaks website.

AFP Jun 11, 2013, 04.52AM IST

Find this story at 11 June 2013

© 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

Boundless Informant NSA data-mining tool – four key slides

The top-secret Boundless Informant tool details and maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 June 2013 20.11 BST

Find this story at 8 June 2013