What Is SAIC Doing In UI’s Research Park?

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corporate spokesperson said in the journal, Business 2.0,
“We are a stealth company. We’re everywhere, but almost
never seen.” Indeed, they were there when pardoned felon
Admiral Poindexter began the Total Information Awareness
(TIA) project and SAIC received some of those early development
contracts. TIA has been nominally ended but the
data mining techniques, fundamental to NSA and other
government surveillance largely contracted to SAIC, go on
full speed ahead. Retroactive immunity for the “telecoms”
just passed by Congress is extremely important for SAIC
and its kindred corporations who deal with the flood of
data from the illegal links to the many networks involved.
Tim Shorrock’s recent book, Spies for Hire: The Secret
World of Intelligence Outsourcing, points out that SAIC is
almost fully a creature of the government: 90% of its revenue
comes from federal contracts. Further, he asserts “the
agency (NSA) is the company’s largest single customer and
SAIC is NSA’s single contractor.” Shorrock closely examines
SAIC and a variety of entities that compete and cooperate
on activities once solely governmental functions. He
estimates that 70% of the current intelligence budget goes
to contractors and argues persuasively that, even more
than ordinary corporate influence over government, intelligence
functions in the private sector to undermine democratic
control of foreign policy, covert and overt.
One of the places where SAIC isn’t seen, of course, is at
Congressional hearings. Yet, SAIC’s board has always had
many CIA/NSA/DIA alumni, among its past directors: ex-
US Secretaries of Defense William Perry and Melvin Laird;
ex-directors of the CIA John Deutsch, Robert Gates; Admiral
Bobby Ray Inman (ex-director of the National Security
Agency); other retired military staff including Wayne
Downing (former commander in chief of US Special
Forces) and Jasper Welch (ex-coordinator of the National
Security Council). Duane Andrews, longtime SAIC executive,
till he joined QnetiQ, (UK’s privatized DARPA equivalent,
think James Bond’s Q) was then Sec’y of Defense
Cheney’s director for strategic defense policy. Andrews
remains close to Vice President Dick Cheney, his former
boss at the Pentagon. In a 2002 interview with Government
Computer News, he listed Cheney as his hero.
SAIC was an early arrival to Iraq, joining the corporate
bonanza. The corporation received multiple contracts,
including one for $15 million to work on an independent
media network. After six months, $82 million was spent,
with nothing to show for the loot. Donald L. Barlett and
James B. Steele, veteran investigative journalists, point out
in their Vanity Fair (March 2007) expose on SAIC, “Washington’s
$8 Billion Shadow,” the high irony of handing over
this task to a corporation hired the previous year by Rumsfeld’s
Office of Strategic Influence to be “involved in a Pentagon
program designed to feed disinformation to the foreign
press”. In concert, SAIC received a five-year “information”
contract for $300 million in 2005 from Special Operations
Command “ to promote its message overseas.” It is
interesting to note that the forged letter purportedly from
Habbush to Hussein confirming al-Qaeda-Iraq connections,
which Ron Suskind discusses in his new book, The
Way of the World, would have been fabricated right around
the same time period.
SAIC has some disastrous failures in what one might
think should be their forte: systems integration of computer
systems. Operation Trailblazer designed to provide integrated
access to info and more, apparently for the whole Intelligence
Community (IC), was scrapped after more than $240
million was spent over two years. They were, nevertheless,
awarded a contract for the follow-up system, called ExecuteLocus,
for more than a third of a billion dollars.
On a smaller scale, a contract for the FBI ‘s software Virtual
Case File was ended after five years, with no effective
product. The network technical aspects were contracted to
DynCorp in 2005. It’s perhaps the case that the bureau is
still using widely INSLAW Corp’s program called PROMIS,
said to have been illegally appropriated by Reagan’s Justice
Dept. Another peculiar snafu for SAIC was their loss of
more than $120 million dollars for not being able to fulfill
their contract for a security system at the Athens
Olympics. One can help but wonder about the real reason
for the abrogation of the contract.
Despite their well-connected BOD and various federal
“rainmakers,” SAIC drops a lot of lobbying largesse around
DC. In the second quarter of this year, they spent over
$800,000 on this activity. Some of this expense could have
been related to the “telecom” immunity part of the FISA
“reform.” Several years ago a tax deductible outlay was to
spend $30,000 to sponsor a golf tourney at one of the several
trade associations SAIC is party to. (It’s not certain
wether Tom Delay got an invite or not.)
Pernicious to democracy, incompetent in some ways,
one can apparently add corruption to the list of SAIC
flaws. In the last few months SAIC has been in the business
news headlines. FEMA has had to suspend their procurement
for Project TopOff, a national disaster drill study,
because of allegations of improprieties in the contracting
process. In a False Claims Act trial, SAIC was found guilty
of 77 false statements and conflicts of interest regarding
their more than ten year old contract with the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission. The corporation was fined $6
million. As last year SAIC posted a return on revenue of
11.9 percent on at least $8 billion, the fine (less than 1/2%
of net profits) can be hardly a slap on the wrist.
In the ten percent of activities that are not governmental,
SAIC has decided to compete with oil industry heavy
weights Haliburton and Bechtel, in the realm of oil production,
pipeline and refinery control mechanisms. If you
read the American business press, you might find that
SAIC is the aggrieved party vis-a-vis PdVSA, Venezuela’s
Oil Company, in having some of its systems nationalized.
In the Latin American press, there were allegations that
SAIC participated in the managerial strike against PdVSA
(rank and file workers were locked out), designed to
destabilize the populist anti-corporate government. This
was the year prior to the coup against Chavez, applauded
by the Bush gang and the New York Times before it failed.
The story, in English, of the accusation of internet industrial
sabotage can be found by searching for Hector Mondragon,
Colombian activist and his translator Justin Pordur.
Given its covertness, it is extremely difficult to establish
the nature and full extent of this gambit.
So what is this fiscally and politically corrupt corporation
doing on south First St. at the UI’s Research Park? In
just what way is this enterprise related to the mission of a
land grant public university? We know that SAIC has
recently signed an agreement with Adaptix to work on
Deep Green, a project to assemble a state-of-the-art battlefield
control system. Is Deep Green intended to run on
BlueWater, IBM’s new water-cooled supercomputer that’s
being built on UI campus? Are there “experiments” in local
corporate offices that involve remote control of Predator
drones firing Hellfire missiles?
The several individuals I have spoken with who have
worked at the local SAIC unit have been bound from
speaking of their work by confidentiality agreements, as are
a large percent of SAIC employees. There has been a long
standing rumor that Operation Stockpile, computer simulation
of nuclear explosions, might be one of the projects
that SAIC is conducting on this campus. These virtual
nuclear tests undermine the spirit of the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT), as the Bush gang skirts the letter of
the treaty. Of real concern here is the manner in which
SAIC activities could be pernicious to our safety and that of
millions of lives, as well as a threat to the spirit of democracy
and academic integrity within this community.

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