FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Not Systemic Failure, But Failed System

What is to be done?

Michael Chertoff, the head of the national security consulting agency Chertoff Group and former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says buy and install more full-body scanners.

That may be part of the answer. But his public-private status—and the fact that under his tenure as DHS chief the department began buying scanners at an estimated $160,000 each from Rapiscan (a company Chertoff Group now represents)—is cause for skepticism. Rapiscan received $26.5 million through DHS contracts in 2008, and $41.4 million from all government departments.

It’s unlikely, however, that attempts to fix our homeland security and intelligence system with new communications and screening systems can do much to improve a system that is increasingly driven more by private than public interests.

As Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, told the Washington Post: “Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive.”

Chertoff is one in a stream of mid- and high-level national security officials who have left homeland security, intelligence, and defense positions to join national security corporations. Tom Ridge, Chertoff’s predecessor at DHS, formed a national security consulting agency called Ridge Global.

One of the most recent national security start-ups is Rice Hadley Group, founded by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Other new security companies formed by top Republican Party figures include Ashcroft Group founded by former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Guiliani Group, formed by former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudolf Guiliani.

Chertoff Group is quickly becoming the most high-powered and deep-pocketed national security consulting firm.

Other principals at Chertoff Group are also former government heavies, including:

Former CIA Director (2005-2009) Michael Hayden, who directed the National Security Agency (NSA, 1999-2005); DHS Deputy Paul Schneider, who prior to his position at DHS was head of acquisitions for NSA and the U.S. Navy; Ret. Admiral Jay Cohen, who was DHS director of science and technology and previously the Navy’s technology chief; and Charlie Allen, who was the intelligence chief at DHS and, according to Chertoff, “pretty much head of everything you could be for the CIA and head of national collections.” Financial recognition of the influential position held by the Chertoff Group in homeland security policy and contracting came on Jan. 6. Blue Star Capital, a London investment company specializing in mergers and acquisitions within the homeland security sector, announced that it had entered into a “strategic relationship” with the Chertoff Group.

This new relationship also points to the increasing merger of the homeland security, defense, and intelligence sectors. As Blue Star explained:

“The Chertoff Group will work with Blue Star on due diligence for certain revenue-generating opportunities in the homeland security, defense, and intelligence markets, de-risking investments in this high-growth sector.

“The combined team brings together international experience including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and National Security Agency, plus UN security expertise, UK police, Scotland Yard counterterrorism expertise, Special Forces, security services, commercial defense companies, and global mergers and acquisitions investment banking experience.”

The system that so spectacularly failed on the two recent incidents is all about mergers and synergy, and very little about real national security.

Chertoff applauded the value of the merger: “I believe there are many areas of opportunity within the Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Defense sectors in the UK and mainland Europe where the synergies between Blue Star and the Chertoff Group will provide real value.”

The increasing merger of the homeland security, defense, and intelligence sectors is creating a new national security complex, where the leading defense contractors are now also the leading intelligence and homeland security contractors.

It is becoming clear that the merger of sectors and purported synergy between public and private interests have been good for business.

But it is also becoming increasingly clear that this corporate-driven system is distorting national security priorities and putting us at risk.

It’s time to clean house and create a new system of national security—one in which our vital homeland security, defense, and intelligence interests are not driven by the likes of Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, Halliburton, and the Chertoff Group.

TOM BARRY is a senior foreign policy analyst with the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC. He blogs at: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com/.

More articles by:

Tom Barry directs the Transborder Program at the Center for International Policy and is a contributor to the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail