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Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire

Two analysts, whose names Total Intelligence Solutions would not release for security reasons, work at company headquarters in Ballston. A critic says the firm employs
Two analysts, whose names Total Intelligence Solutions would not release for security reasons, work at company headquarters in Ballston. A critic says the firm employs "rent-a-spies," while its chairman says, "We break no laws." (Photos By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)

In their conference room overlooking the Global Fusion Center, Total Intel executives fired off a list of some of their work. Are some recent bombings at major cities in India isolated incidents or should you pull your personnel out? What are the political developments in Pakistan going to mean for your business? Is your company popping up on jihadist Web sites? There's been crime recently in the ports of Mexico, possibly by rogue police officers. Is the government going to be able to ensure safety?

Since 2000, the Terrorism Research Center portion of the company has done $1.5 million worth of contracts with the government, mainly from agencies like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs and the U.S. Special Operations Command buying its data subscription or other services.

To Black and Richer, one of the most surprising things about being in the private sector is finding that much of the information they once considered top secret is publicly available. The trick, Richer said, is knowing where to look.

"In a classified area, there's an assumption that if it is open, it can't be as good as if you stole it," Richer said. "I'm seeing that at least 80 percent of what we stole was open."

As he's no longer with the CIA, Richer said he's found that people are more willing to share information. He said a military general in a country he would not name told him of the country's plan to build its next strike fighter. "I listened," Richer said.

"We talked business and where we could help him understand markets and things like that." At the end of the conversation, Richer said, he asked the man, "Isn't that classified? Why are you telling me this?"

Richer said the man answered, "If I tell it to an embassy official I've created espionage. You're a business partner."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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