There are several reasons why the US government’s War on Terror will never end, but every one of them traces back to two prime motivators: money and power. They’re inseparable, as are the interests that almost always conflict but almost always get overlooked as the Congressional revolving door spins.
If you want a war — possibly even a CYBERwar — you’ll get one. The oversight committees that are charged with keeping the NSA and others in line are actually acting as filters. Those on the committees pick and choose what’s passed on to other Congress and Senate members. In addition, the oversight has been further compromised by recent additions whose employment histories indicate there will be continued expansion of government powers in the future.
Lee Fang of The Intercept has a rundown of the new oversight committee members. To no one’s surprise, they have ties to government contractors and secretive government agencies.
In January, Jeffrey Shockey became the most powerful staffer on the House Intelligence Committee after Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., named him staff director, the highest ranking staff assignment. Shockey has gone in and out of lobbying and congressional work for over two decades…
Shockey’s ties to an appropriations scandal, in which he helped obtain $150 million in contracts for his military-industrial clients via improper earmarks, hasn’t prevented him from taking a seat at the intelligence table, where his decisions can alter the flow of funding to and from intelligence agencies. His former clients — and there are a lot of them — stand to benefit from any expansion of surveillance programs or newly-approved offensive cyberweaponry. Over the course of his lobbying career, Shockey has represented Academi (formerly Blackwater), General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and a handful of closely-related corporations.
Rep. Bill Hurd — a newcomer — has scored a choice seat at the head of the brand new House Oversight Committee for technology. How fortuitous.
Before running for office, Hurd worked in offensive cyberoperations as a CIA officer, joined the Crumpton Group, a private intelligence firm led by a former CIA official, and later helped build a cybersecurity company called FusionX.
It’s not just the NSA and CIA that stand to benefit from appointees who empathize deeply with the work the agencies do, as well as the private companies that help them get it done. The DHS is also honing its synergy by appointing former Chertoff Group senior associate Jena Baker McNeill as Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Homeland Security committee. The Chertoff Group was founded by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. McNeill’s appointment keeps DHS control “in the family,” so to speak.
A lot of entities — both inside and outside the government — have grown accustomed to running a well-funded war machine. They’re in no hurry to give it up. If the Snowden leaks ever result in serious surveillance reforms, the shift to Plan B (cybersecurity) will ensure no one goes hungry. The players may change periodically but the underlying interests will continue to be well-protected by company men (and women) and intelligence insiders.