|Mon., Jun. 10, 2013|
|Snowden Fallout Should Trigger Privatization Debate|
|By Kevin McCauley|
Freedom of expression and anti-secrecy advocates are coming out of the woodwork in support of Booz Allen Hamilton whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called him a "hero," while Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg said the disclosure about the National Security surveillance program was "one of the greatest national security leaks in recent American history."
The debate over whether Snowden is a lawbreaker or treasure has just begun. That's but a sideshow.
A more important debate focused on the privatization of U.S. government functions should also begin. The small government crowd has been dismantling or "right-sizing" government and federal employees for quite some time in the quest to achieve efficiencies.
BAH hitched a ride on the federal gravy train, hauling in more than $5B in revenues with 36 of 45 top secret agencies, according to today’s Washington Post. Staffers at BAH earn much more than their federal counterparts, which raises red flags about cost-savings. The revolving door spins. Federal employees set up programs and then take contractor jobs to administer them.
Can't the guys who write RFPs at federal agencies do the work themselves?
The BAH affair also raises the question about the basic "outsourcing" of national security to the private sector. It doesn’t sit well that a company responsible to the whims of Wall Street is doing the work of the NSA, which is supposed to be the savviest technology unit of federal Washington.
BAH, which is shocked by the Snowden leak, played by the rules.
The rules, perhaps, need to be changed.
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|Joe Honick (Jul. 8, 2013):|
Ron is a good person, but comparing Snowden and George Washington is not a stretch, it's a rupture of logic. That Snowden ran instead of finding some good legal help before shooting off his mouth says a lot about the man. Worse, however, are the questions not being asked: how did he squeak through clearance? How does a guy at his junior level get his hands on these data and walk out the door with it? Where in hell was Booz Allen in all this intel tinkering? As to what would have happened to Snowden had he stayed?
Seems there would have been some loud demonstrations in his favor from nut cases like Glen Beck on the right and a host of folks from the left that would have protected his tush while being brought to a public trial with all the Constitutional trappings he suggests we are not good at providing.
|Ronald N. Levy (Jul. 1, 2013):|
Even the guilty--and Snowden certinly seems guilty of breaking the law and breaking his moral obligations to Americans who trusted him--may not be guilty of other things. He probably broke the law but so did George Washington, Simon Bolivar and Rosa Parks. They believed in the causes for which they broke the law. Many people may think that Washington, Bolivar, Parks and many gay leders were right--and that Snowden is right or partly right in thinking that the government shouldn't be covering up facts that the public deserves to know.
Thinkman 2 says Snowden "should have stayed right here" but then Snowden could have been jailed for life or killed.
"Heroes don't run to another country for protection," says Joe Honick but they do. General Charles de Gaule and other European heroes ran to another country to avoid being killed.
When a messenger for my company was discovered to have embezzled several hundred dollars in fare money, some people wanted me to call the cops and have him jailed since he was guilty. But I asked "are WE also guilty for not having better controls over petty cash money?" He was poor and we weren't. In the same way are we--the rest of Americans--not guilty for not having better controls over our national secrets? Who gave this employee of a few months access to our secrets? If we are guilty or partly guilty, that doesn't make Snowden less guilty but it shows that guilt and innocence are not absolute.
Yes, he should be jailed if we can catch him just as enemy soldiers should be killed because it would be worse if we let the bad guys win. But perhaps we should not blame others so much that we excuse ourselves. Nor should blaming others cause us to pin it all on them and not see how our security systems should be improved.
I'm against killing prisoners, even very bad guys, because it teaches the public to feel good about killing and this is a dangerous-for-us
idea. I'm against lynching and figuring that if one is guilty of one sin, he's guilty of anything he is accused of.
If it's really true that all have sinned, we should take a closer look at what we can do so future sinners dont hurt as as badly as otherwise they may.
|Thinkman2 (Jun. 27, 2013):|
The myth of Snowden heroics or whistleblowing is demolished immediately by two facts: he chose to flee to countries whose ogling of privacy makes ours look childish, and, because he does not even deal with the reality of private investigatory operations used by corporations for all sorts of reasons. In short, Snowden is a fraud, but what makes his actions even worse is that he cleared the intensive process to get access to what he has been selling, no doubt to some hefty publishers as he accepts great treatment for his sabotage. Had he been a real concerned citizen, he would have stayed right here, gotten all the PR^ he could have dreamed of and more.
Sooner or later, we may well learn there is more to the story of this lesser hero than we now know. He also sabotaged any real means to cleanup areas in the intelligence process that might need it.
|Joe Honick, GMA International Ltd (Jun. 11, 2013):|
Ron's offering is no doubt of good intention. However, the idea we can recruit all those folks to do such classified work from the outside does not compute. Snowden quite apparently sneaked into this kind of activity with questionable motivations from the outset. The same could be said for PFC Manning. What on earth did they think they were signing up to do: teach kindergarten? If they are and were so upset with the realities of intel work, why did they not also pursue means to reveal what we have learned about China, or Russia or any other nation? The damage they have done is incalculable both in intelligence terms and human terms potentially. Worse is the na´ve campaign to paint either or both as heroes. Heroes don't run to another country for protection. And still worse are the questions about how these guys were cleared for their work in the first place.
|Veep (Jun. 11, 2013):|
Why are all the whistleblowers so creepy? Assange and this guy are the perfect pair.
|Joe Honick, GMA International Ltd (Jun. 11, 2013):|
Snowden is only a hero by his own egotistical standards and has, along with PFC Manning, endangered countless lives and ongoing efforts. If one is convinced of questionable or perceived unethical activities, his obligation was and is to suck it up and take the problem FIRST internally and take whatever guff that action might imply. You are dead right as to the questionable hiring of subcontractors for this kind of work. It's bad enough the DoD has subcontracted KP work to private companies, but the idea that some management consultant signs on to do extremely classified intelligence work and suddenly finds his sensibilities upset is nothing less than dangerous. Our friends(?) in China and Russia et al must be laughing like hell!
|Ronald N. Levy (Jun. 11, 2013):|
Our government uses private contractors for the same reason that savvy companies and associations use outside law firms and outside PR firms: to get skills not available in house, and so that underperformers can be shed with less risk of political pressure than if the underperformers work for a government agency.
Edelman, WPP, OMC and other great communications firms have people
who want more money--sometimes MUCH more--and less political interference than many government people get.
Many top health PR execs--knowing not only what to do and how but also what NOT to do--understandably want to work for a PR firm where
an intransigent client can be chucked far more easily than can a government boss, and where income can come from six or more great accounts instead of one.
I spent a fortune over the years counseling PR friends at companies and associations that the best way to get rid of a difficult client or bos is to get him or her promoted. Common sense was to figure not how unfair life is but how to get the bastard promoted.
At PR firms that doesn't happen. There's more a survival of the fittest (and what Darwin may not have actually said, NON-survival of the schmucks).
Booz Allen Hamilton, McKinsey, genius offshoots of both firms (offshoots that often offer awesome quality at working-to-get-started costs) and other consultants can do better work than many government agencies because the contractors in many cases have better people and better freedom.
Richard Edelman can take a client to lunch at the Harvard Club and
say "My opinion," and it's momentous when the client waits eagerly to hear what Edelman's opinion ismand then he announces his opinion.
Does anyone in government--now or ever--have that kind of ability to get approval for an opinion?
It's the same with law. When one of the world's greatest-ever lawyers says "this is what I think we should do," few if any clients will say no, let's do something else.
So in addition to having better specialists, MORE specialists (can you imagine how many digital people Edelman, Weber Shandwick and FleishmanHillard have?) contractors offer more likelihood of having good suggestions adopted.