Not much attention is being paid to the renting out of Iraq to SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation)-- which is apparently the plan hatched by Paul Wolfowitz and Smilin' Jay Garner. Iraq has already been graced with a paramilitary group, flown out at Pentagon expense, to surround the eventual proconsul of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. Now the Pentagon is flying out a group of exiles to take over Smilin' Jay's ministries -- including the ever juicy Oil Ministry -- and they are paying them, for reasons unexpressed in the press releases, through SAIC -- an employee owned defense tech company. SAIC is run by one J. R. Beyster, who has worked, in the past, in Los Alamos. SAIC was last in the spotlight for buying the company that has the privilege of deciding who gets domain names on the Internet. At that time, a lot of paranoia was generated among the true net-cognescenti by the composition of the Board of Directors. Yes, here's a bunch of fun facts to know and tell: that board of directors has included former National Security Agency chief Bobby Inman, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and the former head of research and development for the Pentagon, Donald Hicks, ex-CIA Director Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense William Perry, and another ex-CIA Director John Deutch
Business 2.0, to its credit, has an article this month that explores the super-secretive SAIC -- although it is explored in the gung-ho spirit of geek patriotism. As long as they use neat technology to curtail our freedom, it is alright with Business 2.0.
Here are a few excerpts to make you confident that we are in good hands -- xray hands, the hands of Donald Rumsfeld and company:
SAIC is now the country's largest privately held infotech company, with 2002 revenues of $6.1 billion. About a third of SAIC's business is systems integration for other companies, such as Pfizer (PFE) and BP (BP), but its heart and soul is spy tech. Intelligence agencies don't list or rank their contractors. Intelligence sources, however, say SAIC was the NSA's top supplier last year and in the top five at the CIA. In addition to the high-powered data-mining software that helped nail Mohammed, SAIC makes undersea thermal imaging sensors for tracking submarines. It produces software that spy satellites use to map the earth and feed target data to precision munitions, including those that have been pounding Iraq. It's also a leader in the booming homeland security business: It builds gear that uses gamma rays to peer inside cargo containers and truck trailers. Adding to SAIC's covert aura, Beyster has hired an unusual number of former spies, law enforcement chiefs, and secret warriors. Some 5,000 employees -- roughly one-seventh of the workforce -- have security clearances. Beyster himself has one of the highest arrays of top-secret clearances of any civilian in the country. "We are a stealth company," says Keith Nightingale, a former Army special ops officer. "We're everywhere, but almost never seen."
To understand the Iraq war, it is becoming clear, you have to understand other odd aspects of the Bush administration. The energy policy group convened behind closed doors behind Cheney. The tax giveaway to the wealthiest. The using of homeland security to pump ever more money into companies that are not really concerned with defending you and me.
And so, this is the military-crony complex that now has put Iraq in its portfolio. To the betterment, of course, of all Iraqi-kind.
Excuse me if our victories make me a little sick.