Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old at the center of the NSA revelations, worked at a company called Booz Allen Hamilton (“Booz Allen”), just before leaving for Hong Kong. Who are they?
Booz Allen are a major, major, intelligence contractor. Put another way, they’ve taken at least $31 billion from the government (at least $19.6B from the Department of Defense; the 25th largest defense contractor). Their market cap is $2.51B. According to their financials, they earn more than 98% of their revenue from the government.
Here are a few links to stories about them of relevance. Wikipedia will give the general background, but I want here to highlight a couple of other sources you might overlook.
The Guardian has a nice run-down on them, pointing out links to DNI Clapper, Mike McConnell (Bush administration DNI) and James Woolsey.
The investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire, has done the most reporting on them. It doesn’t take much when looking at them to find significant links to academic geography, GIS and GEOINT.
2007: Booz Allen Hamilton, Mike McConnell. Shorrock on Democracy Now.
2010: The corporate intelligence community. A photo tour (Shorrock). Northern Virginia, the epicenter of intel contracting.
Joan Dempsey, seen here at one of the many GEOINT conferences for which she has been MC. Dempsey is an Executive Vice President of Booz Allen, and a Board member of the USGIF, the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.
The USGIF is the organization behind the annual GEOINT conferences. Although a non-profit it reported assets of around $5.1m in FY2011. It is mostly run by defense contractors, academics with intel and GEOINT interests (eg., the Chair of the GMU Geography department, Dr. Peggy Agouris) or other interested GIS experts (including Mike Goodchild, heh-hem and Jack Dangermond, CEO of Esri). Even the intel journalist Matthew Aid, who usually takes a fairly mainstream view of the IC, recently remarked that the USGIF had entered into a “sweetheart” contract with the NGA.
Update. The Wall Street Journal has a new piece on Booz Allen including the following nugget: “25,000 people, 76% of whom have government security clearances allowing them to handle sensitive national security information.” This includes 27% at one of the toppest of top levels, Top Secret//SCI. It’s worth studying official figures on security clearances, given here, which indicate 1.4 million people hold a “Top Secret” clearance. Looked at one way, that’s 1.4 million chances of a leak. Just in case you were wondering how a 29-year-old defense contractor got hold of such sensitive documents.