Monday, February 26, 2007

SAIC and the shadow government

Okay, this is scary. That's a link to a really long article (even for Vanity Fair) on a company you probably never heard of, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Forget Halliburton, GE, Electric Boat, National Steel and Shipbuilding, Boeing, and Bechtel. These guys have the sweet deals, and the big cojones to go after more and more.

SAIC has been awarded more individual government contracts than any other private company in America. The contracts number not in the dozens or scores or hundreds but in the thousands: SAIC currently holds some 9,000 active federal contracts in all. More than a hundred of them are worth upwards of $10 million apiece. Two of them are worth more than $1 billion. The company's annual revenues, almost all of which come from the federal government, approached $8 billion in the 2006 fiscal year, and they are continuing to climb. SAIC's goal is to reach as much as $12 billion in revenues by 2008. As for the financial yardstick that really gets Wall Street's attention—profitability—SAIC beats the S&P 500 average. Last year ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, posted a return on revenue of 11 percent. For SAIC the figure was 11.9 percent.

Yes, they beat ExxonMobil by nearly a point in a year which has been called BigOil's best year ever.


So, who do they work for? What do they do?

Well, of course there is DOD, CIA, NSA, DIA, NIS and the usual cast of spooky characters. But these guys go beyond all that. They seem to turn up everywhere in government from the Coast Guard to Human Services. From Transportation to Medicare. Wherever there is money to be made by the "downsizing" of the federal government, SAIC is there to step up to the plate.

Are they effective?

Sadly, no, they have not been in a number of cases. In at least two high profile big contracts, one for NSA and one for FBI, their work has been, well, failed. Their high-tech HQ in San Diego, has been burglarized and computers stolen containing information which could prove fatal to covert operatives.

Still, they bill on. Robert Gates, now DOD Secretary was once on their board of directors and it is filled with big players from all over the high-tech, counter-terrorism, and intelligence-gathering map.

Don't look for them to lose any big contracts anytime soon.

But familiarize yourself with them, if this is what they are up to now, imagine what it will be like in 20 more years.

SAIC has made boatloads of money on the "war on some terror," especially after 9/11.. from the article

There isn't a politically correct way to put it, but this is what needs to be said: 9/11 was a personal tragedy for thousands of families and a national tragedy for all of America, but it was very, very good for SAIC. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, whose chief consequence has been to channel money by the tens of billions into companies promising they could do something—anything—to help. SAIC was ready. Four years earlier, anticipating the next big source of government revenue, SAIC had established the Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis. According to SAIC, the purpose of the new unit was to take "a comprehensive view of terrorist threats, including the full range of weapons of mass destruction, more traditional high explosives, and cyber-threats to the national infrastructure." In October of 2006 the company told would-be investors flatly that the war on terror would continue to be a lucrative growth industry.
Got that? Little Georgie's War on Some Terror would "continue to be a lucrative growth industry." Want more...?... Dig this...

SAIC executives have been involved at every stage of the life cycle of the war in Iraq. SAIC personnel were instrumental in pressing the case that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the first place, and that war was the only way to get rid of them. Then, as war became inevitable, SAIC secured contracts for a broad range of operations in soon-to-be-occupied Iraq. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, SAIC personnel staffed the commission that was set up to investigate how American intelligence could have been so disastrously wrong.
I am sorry, but this chaps my ass. This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.

And there is even more in this article. Part II tomorrow.

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