Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made the claim Thursday that the federal government does not depend on the private sector for its security and intelligence operations, flatly contradicting what is now known about government intelligence gathering.
Napolitano’s speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was meant to highlight the importance of public-private sector partnerships in bolstering the nation’s cybersecurity, stating that this was “the first time that we’ve approached a major security problem in this way.”
“It’s very interesting in this area, this is going to be at this point an experiment and an important one, because where security is concerned — law enforcement or security — we normally don’t depend on the private sector. We really view that as an inherently governmental function,” said Napolitano.
“We don’t depend, or outsource, our national defense to the private sector. We don’t depend or outsource our intelligence gathering capability to the private sector,” she said.
Her remarks, delivered during a keynote address, contradict not only recent revelations about security contracting and seizure of phone and email data from private companies by the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice, but the 60-year history of the “military-industrial complex” described by President Dwight Eisenhower, a deep and complex web of connections between government and private contractors.
The interdependency between defense and intelligence agencies and private contractors has been growing in recent years.
The modern relationship between the U.S. government and private sector defense and intelligence contractors was highlighted as recent as early June when former NSA defense contractor Edward Snowden leaked key national security information to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Private military contractors engaged in armed combat alongside U.S. military forces during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
Eisenhower first warned the country in 1961 about the establishment of the military-industrial complex that had arisen out of necessity following World War II and the Korean War.