28 April 2014

Somewhere in northwest Pakistan Tuesday a sound was heard. Hellfire missiles streaked towards a residential compound. Eighteen people, possibly including civilians, were incinerated and another sound was heard in Washington: the sound of change dropping into Dianne Feinstein's purse.


Since the beginning of the recent revelations of a vast system of American and British government spying on nearly every person on Earth, Senator Feinstein has been quick to be at the forefront of defending these programs and denouncing leaker Edward Snowden as a "traitor." Does she mean that Snowden has betrayed America, or betrayed her own profits from illegal surveillance, indefinite detention and extrajudicial murder?


Feinstein's political fortunes rest not on representing the human rights values of her base in San Francisco, but on the considerable fortune of her husband, investment banker Richard Blum. This fortune, although technically separated from hers by various trusts, has been greatly enhanced by the war on terror. Blum's war profiteering is anchored by his Blum Capital group, which owns major defense contractor URS. Blum also has ownership interest in a defunct cargo airline with defense department contracts, Astar Cargo, and a major construction firm with major contracts for the military as well as civilian reconstruction contracts with Iraq.


URS's position as a major defense contractor was secured by its purchase of EG&G from the Carlyle Group in 2002 and re-branding the company URS Federal Services. The Free Press has a list of all the DoD contracts that URS is party to as a prime or subcontractor. The list, which was downloaded from publicly accessible government computers is so incomprehensibly huge our IT department custom built a computer to crunch the data. For instance, URS is party to 12147 contracts that we could find with the Special Operations Command alone.


URS Federal Services provides communications maintenance support to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the key military unit that operates Predator drones worldwide. Thus Feinstien's position as chairwoman of the Senate select intelligence committee provides the veneer of congressional legality for the secret illegal assassination program. Meanwhile, the expansion of drone warfare against civilian targets also secretly enriches her and her husband and ensures the flow of blood money needed to keep her in office.


Feinstein has publicly derided whistleblower Edward Snowden as a traitor, but has remained mostly silent on the issue of whistleblower Bradley Manning. Manning is alleged to have downloaded footage of war crimes from CENTCOM computers and given it to Wikileaks. This footage, which shows American attack helicopters killing Reuters journalists, formed the basis of the film Collateral Murder. Manning is also alleged to have downloaded and leaked thousands of diplomatic cables that continue to shed public light on the seedy secret side of important world events. URS is the prime contractor for network defense and security for CENTCOM. When documents are leaked and Dianne Feinstien shrilly cries treason, one could be unsure if she the treason she refers to is treason to her bank account or to her country. Perhaps she did not single Manning out for fear of drawning attention to her husband's profiteering.


The decade of URS ownership by Richard Blum has proved lucrative in subcontracting as well. A brief overview over products and services provided to the DoD by URS includes "MISC DESKS", satellite communication equipment and "CHICKEN, PCS, BRD, FZN." Dozens of companies subcontract to URS on various projects, perhaps hoping to get a green light from a company that has a powerful senator guarding their interests in Congress. Prime Contractors on these projects range from Boeing to Booz Allen Hamilton. Several of these contracts list Palantir as the prime contractor, suggesting that URS may be directly involved in PRISM.


The information garnered by the Free Press does not include intelligence contracts with the Department of Homeland Security nor does it list any classified transactions with intelligence agencies. It is not clear if or how many such contracts may exist.


URS is not Feinstein's only contribution to the global war on terror. Until it shut down in June 2012, Richard Blum had a major stake Astar Air Cargo. Astar had an air freight contract for CENTCOM. It also had a regular cargo route from Norfolk Naval Air Station to America's infamous extra-territorial prison at Guantanamo Bay. The Free Press could not obtain cargo manifests for the flights so it is unknown if the cargo consisted of replacement truncheons, feeding tubes or actual detainees.


The amoral technocratic free market radicals of the post 9/11 era have reached consensus that no spying is illegal, no assassination is immoral and no fee is too great in the cause of Freedom. Dianne Feinstein seems proud to lead that patriotic bipartisan charge all the way to the bank.