By Alex Kane
Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, has invaded America’s television sets in recent weeks to warn about Edward Snowden’s leaks and the continuing terrorist threat to America.
But what often goes unmentioned, as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out, is that Hayden has a financial stake in keeping Americans scared and on a permanent war footing against Islamist militants. And the private firm he works for, called the Chertoff Group, is not the only one making money by scaring Americans.
Post-9/11 America has witnessed a boom in private firms dedicated to the hyped-up threat of terrorism. The drive to privatize America’s national security apparatus accelerated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and it’s gotten to the point where 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on private contractors, as author Tim Shorrock reported. The private intelligence contractors have profited to the tune of at least $6 billion a year. In 2010, the Washington Post revealed that there are 1,931 private firms across the country dedicated to fighting terrorism.
What it all adds up to is a massive industry profiting off government-induced fear of terrorism, even though Americans are more likely to be killed by a car crash or their own furniture than a terror attack.
Here are five private companies cashing in on keeping you afraid.
1. The Chertoff Group
On August 11, former NSA head Michael Hayden, the man at the center of the Bush administration’s 2005 surveillance scandal, was defending his former agency on CBS News in the wake of the latest NSA spying scandal. Commenting on President Obama’s half-hearted promises to reform some NSA practices, Hayden told host Bob Schieffer that “the President is trying to take some steps to make the American people more comfortable about what it is we’re doing. That’s going to be hard because, frankly, Bob, some steps to make Americans more comfortable will actually make Americans less safe.”