Friday, March 11, 2011

Contracting out spies, etc.

The contracting out of government civil service or military jobs has got to stop. I keep hearing that. It's been stated that we had already figured out in the 19th century that this was a bad thing to do and if we are so much smarter now, how come we cannot now see this. Especially when we've already been through it.

Consider the situation with Pakistan and the private contractor shooting by Ray Davis.

This is not looked well upon by the host country, in this case Pakistan. We are outsourcing to secondary agents, indicating to the host country they are not that important, and alternatively, that we are there as if we are at war with Pakistan.

Four Pakistani officials spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity saying that the two men who Raymond Davis killed in Lahore last month were working for Pakistan's premiere intelligence service, and they were following Davis because he was spying. He probably was. They definitely were, but then, it's their country.

According to ABC, in late January, those officials say, Davis was asked to leave an area of Lahore restricted by the military. His cell phone was tracked, said one government official, and some of his calls were made to the Waziristan tribal areas, where the Pakistani Taliban and a dozen other militant groups have a safe haven. Pakistani intelligence officials saw him as a threat who was "encroaching on their turf," the official said.

In public and in private, U.S. officials say they do not believe reports that the two men Davis shot and killed were working for the ISI. They say the men had robbed another person before they approached Davis' car. U.S. officials dispute the story. Davis came to Pakistan on a diplomatic passport and is a "member of the technical and administrative staff" of the embassy in Islamabad.

Although the White House insisted that Davis was a U.S. diplomat covered under international immunity agreements, the Times, as well as the Washington Post and the Associated Press, learned soon after that the 36-year-old Virginia native was really a CIA contractor who was part of a surveillance team gathering intelligence in Pakistan for at least a year.

Davis’s cover was blown, however, when The Guardian newspaper in England reported the CIA connection on Feb. 20. The American media followed suit two days later. (See reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post.)
We are, in another country's view using mercenaries for money without an ideal in their mind, or so it's thought. There is frequently a conflict of interest, or a conflict in producing for money, where to stop your work when it's needed, is to cut your own pay.

I have been writing and complaining about this for a couple of decades now back when we thought we don't need HUMINT (Human Intel) because we had ELINT (Electronic Intel). You cannot get the same quality of info from a bird in the sky that you can a guy on the ground that understands what is happening around him, in the speech of a coffee shop, in the nuances of a group of people, in the sly glance someone gives someone when they say something, meaning something else.

It was foolish for Reagan to cut back on spies in the Middle East and look were we are now. But it wasn't just him, he was being advised by others. They thought they could look good in saying we can cut expensive Human resources, operatives in theater, locals on the dole, Saddam Hussein is our friend, we don't need assets in the Middle East, but they were wrong. Weren't they.

We need to have our own people on task. Not just Americans, but government employees, not contractors. Contractors, like any other tool, have their place, but its not on the forefront. That is OUR responsibility as a nation. Yes, times are a changin', but we have to change smartly, not through ignorance with a push button fix mentality to things. Like with anything, something that sounds too good to be true, simply is. That is, its not true. It's folly.

We need to pay attention to things. Look at what happened with Blackwater, what a nightmare they turned out to be for us. And the writing was in the sand with them, it wasn't a secret, people should have seen it coming. But they didn't because they allowed themselves to be deluded, clouded by ease, by money, if not in making it, then in saving it. But in the end, it is more costly, like many things we do now a days, we save money, only to pay it out ten fold in the succeeding decade(s). So wake up! Hey, you! Yes, you too, citizen.

Because it's when the citizens know what's going on that the government has to pay attention too. If we are ignorant, if we turn out backs on what's going on, government will do whatever they like. Won't they? Haven't they? Repeatedly?

Do you know who Blackwater is (their name caused such controversy that they changed their name to Xe Services LLC (pronounced /ˈziː/ zee))? Check out Jeremy Scahill's book, "Blackwater", a very interesting read.

Do you know who Triple Canopy is?

Check out the book: "The Company We Keep" by Robert and Dayna Baer, the real life story of CIA operatives who met in the field and later married and quit clandestine services to write about it. Interesting couple, interesting read. Did you know the CIA requires the agents to take a gun along on some meetings, missions? They mostly don't like to because you have to pay too much attention to the gun, what if you get stopped or searched. This couple say they feel for Davis as you are taught to move not think so that you have about half a second to decide and shoot. She first met her husband when she was tasked to support him in his meetings, heavy undercover, as an arms merchant in the Middle East. She would enter after him, sit, act like she was alone but should something happen, she was to pull her gun and get him safely out of there. Women it seems are very useful in this way and it's not a secret. Women are easier in and out of situations more frequently, get harassed less, in the ways a man would. They woman being up for harassment in a male female but not male male, one being more deadly than the other more frequently. I just sent for it, should be a very interesting read.

The point of all this is, we should train and put our own out there in the field. Yes, it's expensive, but yes, it's our responsibility. And it makes us look better to the host countries, something we need to think more and more about in these always confusing times.

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