Legacy of Ashes 8.0分
读书笔记 chapter 50. “THE BURIAL CEREMONY”


The decline was part of a slow rot undermining the pillars of American national security. After four years of war in Iraq, the military was exhausted, bled by leaders who had invested far more in futuristic weapons than in uniformed soldiers. After five years of defending a foreign policy based on born-again faith, the State Department was adrift, unable to give voice to the values of democracy. And after six years of willful ignorance imposed by know-nothing politicians, congressional oversight of the agency had collapsed. The 9/11 Commission had said that of all the tasks facing American intelligence, strengthening congressional oversight might be the most difficult, and the most important. In 2005 and 2006, Congress responded by failing to pass the annual authorization bill for the CIA, the basic law governing the agency, its policies, and its spending. The roadblock was a single Republican senator who obstructed the bill because it ordered the White House to file a classified report on the CIA’s secret prisons.


At the end of Dwight Eisenhower’s years as president, a few days after he lamented the legacy of intelligence failures he would pass on to his successors, he gave his farewell address to the nation and famously warned: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Little more than half a century later, the surge of secret spending on national security after 9/11 had created a booming intelligence-industrial complex.
Corporate clones of the CIA started sprouting all over the suburbs of Washington and beyond. Patriotism for profit became a $50-billion-a-year business, by some estimates—a sum about the size of the American intelligence budget itself. This phenomenon traced back fifteen years. After the cold war, the agency began contracting out thousands of jobs to fill the perceived void created by the budget cuts that began in 1992. A CIA officer could file his retirement papers, turn in his blue identification badge, go to work for a much better salary at a military contractor such as Lockheed Martin or Booz Allen Hamilton, then return to the CIA the next day, wearing a green badge. After September 2001, the outsourcing went out of control. Green-badge bosses started openly recruiting in the CIA’s cafeteria.


Fortunes could be made in the intelligence industry. The money was a powerful attractor, and the result was an ever-accelerating brain drain—the last thing the CIA could afford—and the creation of companies like Total Intelligence Solutions. Founded in February 2007, Total Intel was run by Cofer Black—the chief of the CIA’s counterterrorist center on 9/11. His partners were Robert Richer, who had been the number-two man at the clandestine service, and Enrique Prado, Black’s chief of counterterror operations. All three had decamped from the Bush administration’s war on terror in 2005 to join Blackwater USA, the politically wired private security company that served, among many other things, as the Praetorian Guard for Americans in Baghdad. They learned the tricks of the government-contracting trade at Blackwater, and within little more than a year Black and company were running Total Intel. These were among the best of the CIA’s officers. But the spectacle of jumping ship in the middle of a war to make a killing was unremarkable in twenty-first-century Washington. Legions of CIA veterans quit their posts to sell their services to the agency by writing analyses, creating cover for overseas officers, setting up communications networks, and running clandestine operations. Following their example, new CIA hires adopted their own five-year plan: get in, get out, and get paid. A top secret security clearance and a green badge were golden tickets for a new breed of Beltway bandits. The outsourcing of intelligence was a clear sign that the CIA could not perform many of its basic missions unaided after 9/11.
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