Posts tagged "DHS"

Drain Clogs – 06-07-2011

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Categories: #culturewar, #drainclogs, #privatization, #shameful   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A little more light on privatized intelligence

The Washington Post has added a new feature on the subject named Top Secret America.  It has stories as well as interactive features to see where companies and agencies are located, who they contract with, etc.  The way this stuff has expanded over the past decade is extremely creepy and almost never really reported on.

A major reason for concern about it is that necessity is not what’s driving its growth:

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials – called Super Users – have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work.

“I’m not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything” was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn’t take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ”Stop!” in frustration.

“I wasn’t remembering any of it,” he said.

Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department’s most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered.

“I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities,” he said in an interview. “The complexity of this system defies description.”

The result, he added, is that it’s impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. “Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste,” Vines said. “We consequently can’t effectively assess whether it is making us more safe.”

Another good resource is Spies for Hire, which has some information on the activities of some of the major contractors.

I’ll see if I can find more interesting stuff to post about this now that I have some more substantial background to work from than scattered news stories. For now,  I’ll leave you with another recent one: Police Video Shows ProPublica Photographer Detained in Texas (includes video)

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Posted by dm - July 20, 2010 at 5:05 am

Categories: #privatization   Tags: , , ,

Is this contracting thing working yet?

The Center for Public Integrity reports another factor in the Deepwater Horizon response:

At least three Coast Guard aircraft and one cutter suffered serious mechanical problems that delayed, cut short or aborted rescue missions during the Gulf incident, the logs reveal. The Coast Guard averaged one problem for every seven rescue sorties it operated during the first three days of the oil spill crisis in April, according to logs obtained by the Center.

Just three months earlier, 10 of the 12 Coast Guard cutters dispatched to help evacuate victims of the Haiti earthquake encountered serious mechanical problems that affected their ability to conduct rescue missions, officials confirm. Two cutters were so impacted that they had to return to port for repairs, and aircraft were diverted from search and rescue to fly parts in for others, according to officials.It’s a situation that has been in the making for years, according to documents and interviews. The Coast Guard’s multibillion-dollar effort to modernize its fleet was mismanaged by the Coast Guard and contractors during the Bush administration, leaving it without much of the new equipment it paid for.


But the Coast Guard also has itself to blame for many of the problems, according to a Department of Homeland Security inspector general review and Government Accountability Office investigations.

Between 2002 and 2008, the Guard spent $1.8 billion on its Deepwater modernization project to build the next generation of its cutters, only to find many of the new ships were either unusable or required expensive repairs because of design defects.

For instance, it abandoned eight new 123-foot patrol cutters because of such problems as “deformation and cracks in the hull,” records show. That left the Guard to rely on boats that were decades old. It is now trying to recoup some of its money from Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a contractor that was formed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. specifically for the Deepwater project.

In the meantime we’ll just award Northrop Grumman with more contracts for really important tasks:

Northrop Grumman Corp. will provide operational support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional preparedness exercises under a 20-month, $5.5 million task order.

Under the terms of the task order, the company will support homeland security preparedness exercises in the 28 states and U.S. territories in FEMA regions VI through X, which includes the south central United States to the West Coast.

The company will design, develop, conduct, evaluate and provide operational support for the exercises.

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Posted by dm - June 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Categories: #privatization   Tags: , , ,