When Thomas Drake, then an official at the National Security Agency, realized that the agency’s decision to shut down an internal data analysis program and instead outsource the project to a private contractor provided the government with less effective analysis at much higher cost, he tried to do something about it. Drake’s decision to join three other whistleblowers in asking the agency’s inspector general to investigate ultimately made him the target of a leak investigation that tore his life apart.
In 2005, the inspector general of the Department of Defense, of which NSA is a part, confirmed the whistleblowers’ accusations of waste, fraud and security risk.
Earlier this year, former NSA Director Michael Hayden even conceded that TrailBlazer, the program for which the NSA paid over $1 billion to the Science Applications International Corporation, had failed. The agency, after killing its own program (called ThinThread) “outsourced how we gathered other people’s communications,” he said in response to a question from investigative journalist Tim Shorrock. “And that was a bridge too far for industry. We tried a moonshot, and it failed.”
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