How the National Security State is Really Welfare for the Rich

Since Glenn Greenwald’s blockbuster story on indiscriminate NSA spying on phone and Internet records, there has been appropriate outrage about American privacy and basic fourth amendment freedoms.

But there has been less attention on the fact that the national security state, largely through its outsourcing to private intelligence and defense contractors like Edward Snowden’s former employer Booz Allen Hamilton, has basically become a welfare program for the very rich. Here are a few numbers showing how:

  • $763,000: That’s the reimbursement cap for defense contractors — almost twice what President Barack Obama makes and over three times what vice president Joe Biden makes. Repeated attempts to lower this cap have failed.
  • 3.2 Percent: That’s the unemployment rate in Arlington County, Virginia, the hub of the intelligence contractor state and location of the headquarters of Booz Allen Hamilton. In In January 2010, during the height of the recession, the wider United States had an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, while Arlington maintained an unemployment rate of only 5.1 percent.
  • 50-60 Percent: In 2007, that was the estimated percentage of “the workforce of the CIA’s most important directorate, the National Clandestine Service (NCS), responsible for the gathering of human intelligence,” that was “composed of employees of for-profit corporations.”
  • 70 Percent: That’s the percentage of the intelligence community’s secret budget that has gone to private contractors, despite the fact that only one in four intelligence workers is a contractor — a sign that the privatization of the security state is driving up costs.
  • $107 million: The amount the top executives at the top five Pentagon contractors made. That’s “43 percent more than the heads of the five biggest U.S. banks, who made $75 million.”
  • $20 Million: That’s the compensation of Booz Allen Hamilton’s top five employees in the 2010 fiscal year. The Washington Post reports that the “ vast majority of” the company’s revenue “about 98 percent…comes from 1,300 clients in the federal government.” The average compensation of top executives at the top five Pentagon contractors was slightly higher at $21.5 million.
  • 335 Soldiers: That’s how many American soldiers you could pay for one year at the cost of just one top defense contractor’s compensation package.
  • $130,545,396: Amount the private defense contractor industry spent lobbying in 2012, key to keeping this spigot of taxpayer money going.
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