You all know I’m a big fan of the work Tim Shorrock has done to track the dangers of the privatization of the intelligence industrial complex. Today, he kicks off an ongoing relationship with the Daily Beast–so now we can read at the Daily Beast what the WaPo will cover in two years in warmed-over form. Today’s article traces the role that Jane Harman’s husband and the guy who just bought Newsweek for $1, Sidney, has in an intelligence advisory group called “Business Executives for National Security.”
But few in Washington are aware that the real intelligence insider of the Harman family may be Sidney himself, through his connections to an obscure but highly influential organization known as Business Executives for National Security.
Founded by [Stanley] Weiss, a mining and chemical executive who for years served as a director of Harman’s audio-equipment company, BENS today represents about 350 of the country’s largest manufacturing, transportation, information technology, communications, and national-security firms.Harman himself chaired the organization’s executive committee from 1982 to 2009 and “contributed over $1 million over the years” to the organization, Weiss told The Daily Beast in an email from Indonesia. Although its CEO, retired Army General Montgomery C. Meigs, manages the organization, its corporate members, led by Harman, have set the pace. “Dr. Harman played an important role [in BENS] for a quarter century,” Weiss told me. “He was deeply involved in all aspects of BENS’ work.” Harman could not be reached for comment.
Shorrock goes on to describe how BENS has been pushing privatization since the Clinton Administration, and just last month recommended further opportunities for profiteering to the Obama Administration.
Just last month it was asked by Obama’s Defense Department to review its recommendations for reducing the cost of military business operations. It came up with a dense, three-page list of suggested changes, among them: outsourcing more “non-core functions” and a recommendation that the Pentagon eliminate “the practice of treating ‘excessive profits’ as improper.”
And yeah, Shorrock points out that her husband’s role in outsourcing intelligence was a conflict of interest when Jane Harman chaired the House Intelligence Committee (and she still chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee at the Committee on Homeland Security). But seeing as how we’ve got DiFi, another spouse of a big MIC contractor, currently running the Senate Intelligence Committee, I guess we should just write that off as par for the course, huh?