05-16-2014 | Spook Royalty

from Jim Hougan's "Spooks: The Haunting of America," p. 14

America has become a haunted place as its intelligence agents move from the federal campus to the more profitable private sector. Bringing burn-bags, bugs, scramblers, covers, conduits, and codes to an array of business activities ranging from labor negotiations to mergers and sales, the spooks are making a financial killing while transforming the way business is done, American style. Their clients are the premier cru of the financial establishment -- Hughes, Hunt, Rockefeller, Getty, Ford, Niarchos, Graham, Mellon. Institutional clients have also piled up: Exxon, IBM, ITT, Chase Manhattan, General Motors, American Express, Northrop, Bell Telephone, the Mariott Corporation -- indeed most of the Fortune 500 can be said to "swing." Even the McDonald's hamburger chain has become a player, putting Intertel on retainer: behind the billowing costume and playful visage of the Ronald McDonald clown is the expertise of some sixty spooks whose apprenticeship at the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency (NSA) allows them to command fifty dollars and hour per agent for their services.

Elsewhere, the Lockheed Martin entered upon an espionage bender, hiring Manchurian spies, Ivy League bagmen, and even a Japanese assasin to help sell their planes. Nor are the spooks' clients uniformly conservative in their politics. Employing the Wackenhut corporation, which boasts of its sophisticated "strike service," the liberal Katharine Graham found herself in very strange company. An enormous private intelligence agency and guard service, Wackenhut was founded by retiring FBI agents whose conservatism was immediately apparent. For years, Wackenhut relied on the dossiers of the Church League of America, a right-wing think tank whose "intelligence files" on the Left undoubtedly included volumes on Mrs. Graham herself. Neither is the Post's publisher the only liberal to realize the value of an investment in spooks. Stewart Mott, eccentric angel of the American left, was for years the secret partner of Mitchell WerBel, financing the paramilitarist's development of assassination devices in Georgia. Mott, strangely enough, is a director of the Fund for Peace and explains his involvement with silencers and submachine guns in "environmental" terms -- an explanation that will be elaborated in later pages.

What's happened is that private CIA's-for-hire, established after World War II, have metastasized across the landscape. Whether it's computers, hamburgers, newspapers, or jets, America's paladin spooks are increasingly likely to have a hand in it (and sometimes a strong arm as well). Occasionally their work benefits the public, though only incidentally. More often the public is the target and, even when no laws are broken, justice is often undone. Subverting federal agencies and the courts with the promise of future jobs and the exploitation of "contacts," industry's intelligence agents often labor in a moral vacuum: profit, rather than patriotism, is their assignment. And, not infrequently, laws are broken: smears, bag jobs, industrial espionage, tax frauds, and even assassination programs have been planned and carried out by the contract agents of the business world.

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