Crikey



The secret deal bringing an $11b US intel giant to Melbourne

The Victorian government has refused to reveal the amount of taxpayer funds spent on the set-up of a shadowy US military-linked intelligence operation in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

A secret deal was hatched last month to expand the Australian footprint of the massive Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which rakes in $11 billion each year in revenue in its role as the private information arm of the US government.

An opaque press release issued by Ted Baillieu’s government two weeks ago — unreported by the mainstream media — stated only that the centre, employing 50 people, would “focus on global challenges in national security, energy and environment, health and cyber security” to protect the state from “cyber attacks”. Researchers in the Melbourne “will conduct advanced research in data mining and analysis systems”.

But the state government has refused to be drawn on the amount of support gifted to SAIC, telling Crikey only that the arrangements were “commercial in confidence”. Follow-up questions directed at ministers Richard Dalla-Riva and Gordon Rich-Phillips asking exactly what “data” SAIC planned to “mine” were ignored.

SAIC — the subject of a damning 2007 Vanity Fair article — is at the heart of the US military industrial complex. According to its 2011 annual report, the Fortune 500 firm, established in 1969, boasts more than 43,000 global employees and made close to a billion dollars on $11 billion in revenue last financial year, 70% of which was Hoovered from the pockets of American taxpayers.

It has also done very nicely from Australian taxpayers, too. Over the past three years SAIC has scored more than $4 million in contracts with Defence, Customs and the parliament — it was responsible, for example, for the decidedly clunky new parliamentary information system introduced in 2010.

SAIC has a long and controversial history as one of the most important players in the US security state. Its executives and board members regularly move between SAIC and key US military and intelligence positions. The company is a repeat participant in some of the most significant procurement debacles of recent years. Its highest-profile moments include:

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25 Responses

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  1. Dear Andrew & Bernard

    Julie would like to know where this leaves the Vic and Federal Govts.

    Yes, we know that we have been given assurances by Dizzy Rizzy, that SAIC has not been retained by the latter for any services to the Vic Govt, but was n’t it the Vic Govt that coffed-up the Tax Payers money to invite them here in the first place? But on behalf of who then?

    Now, as i explained to Julie, the issue here is not hyphenated names. Perhaps it should be, because look at this…Richard Dalla-Riva, Gordon Rich-Phillips, Sacks-Davis and that other mysterious fellow, Vernon A Guidry Junior….ok, Vernon’s name is not hyphenated but very convoluting to say the least.

    Sorry boys, but Julie wants to butt-in here.

    Julie: FFSAIC Kevin, will you get to the point.

    Kevin: Get to the point? How can I get to the point when my emails and texts are constantly being scrutinized and my phones been bugged by an Intel organization sponsored by my own state govt.

    Julie:

    Yours Sincerely

    Kevin & Julie Harris

    by Kevin & Julie Harris on May 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

  2. A US company with ties to their military and intelligence, with convictions for fraud and demonstrated incompetence, developing information systems for our parliament and assisting our government with “cyber security”. What could possibly go wrong?
    With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

    by lindsayb on May 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

  3. here’s the thing. SAIC. your mother. with spades.that should do it.

    by izatso? on May 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  4. Looks like the stars and stripes will be Australias flag, the turncoate in Canberra, have sold us out. just for the HONOR?? of a pat on the head by Obummer.

    by kennethrobinson2 on May 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  5. Hoovered”? With a capital H?

    by Muttonkennedy on May 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  6. 3 things. If they start advertising for Test Subjects, don’t respond. If you work there and they have a “Bring your Daughter to Work Day” chuck a sickie and stay home.

    by Indiana Jones on May 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  7. Uh oh, first Darwin now Melbourne, the pincer move which began in Canberra. We’re done, folks - it was nice knowing you, Australia.

    by zut alors on May 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm

  8. There’s 2,500 marines in Darwin, as we speak and that’s only the first installment. The Australian government is still dredging the waters between Garden Island and the mainland in WA to make access for even bigger aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. And now one of the major tentacles of the US Intelligence Services has set up shop in Melbourne. This article is practically a smoking gun and I wonder these days how our elected representatives actually keep a straight face.

    by Sally Jones on May 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

  9. Yeah! What did the Americans ever do for us, eh?

    by scottyea on May 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  10. Like the Romans, they gave us aquaducts. Saw it on the Life of Brian.

    by Sally Jones on May 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm

  11. NBN …. Asia Pacific Hub…. Cyber Security …… ergo Sol Trujillo’s mates ……. this is gonna be an extremely expensive exercise in experiencing externalization in a big way ….. these Jokers dont do Cheap ……

    by izatso? on May 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm

  12. Seriously, was n’t it Bob Carr, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, who once compared the USA to a latter day Roman Empire? It’s true, he said exactly that. I wonder how he ratifies that today given his new position and greater awareness of external and internal security issues.

    by Sally Jones on May 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  13. Sally Jones,

    I believe Carr ‘borrowed’ that comparison from his good pal, Gore Vidal, the US writer/intellectual who wrote a book on the subject.

    by zut alors on May 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

  14. Did anyone notice the small item last week of the agreement to remove the 90,000 US troops from Okinawa? Any guesses where they’ll be redeployed?
    The old phrase re “US hemispheric interests - you gotta hemisphere, we’re interested in it!”
    For those with long memories, think back to the Cross in the 60/70 with US troops on R&R from Vietnam.

    by AR on May 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

  15. yes, Hoovered because “Hoover” is a proper-noun.

    by McBride Glen on May 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

  16. Absolutely frightening. Sounds like a bunch who can be relied on for both conspiracy and c*ck-up. Just who do our governments think they are working for?

    Oh that’s right, our Great and Powerful Friend…

    by Malcolm Street on May 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  17. Thanks to Crikey for bringing this to attention. Fornicate off Yankee c0cks*ckers. File that comment with the lube, boys.

    by Policeman MacCruiskeen on May 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  18. Just looked SAIC up on Wikipedia

    In January 1999, new SAIC consultant Steven Hatfill and his collaborator, SAIC vice president Joseph Soukup, commissioned William C. Patrick (a retired leading figure in the old U.S. bioweapons program) to report on the possibilities of terrorist anthrax mailings in the United States. (There had been a spate of hoax anthrax mailings in the previous two years.) Barbara Hatch Rosenberg said that the report was commissioned “under a CIA contract to SAIC”. However, SAIC said Hatfill and Soukup commissioned it internally—there was no outside client.

    Patrick produced his 28-page report in February 1999. Some subsequently saw it as a “blueprint” for the 2001 anthrax attacks. The report suggested the maximum amount of anthrax powder—2.5 grams—that could be put in an envelope without producing a suspicious bulge. This was just a little more than the actual amounts—2 grams each—in the letters sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. But the report also suggested that a terrorist might produce a spore concentration of 50 billion spores per gram. This was only one-twentieth of the actual concentration—1 trillion spores per gram—in the letters sent to the senators.[8]”

    Well, this is going to be a significant advantage in the Sydney-Melbourne wars!!!

    by Julian Fitzgibbon on May 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  19. AR - the way things are in Asia at the moment - the US could auction off the rights to host the 90,000 troops from southern Japan and be over subscribed 10 times. The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan would all happily take them. The only friends China currently has left in Asia - are Cambodia and Laos and I guess a few downunder - such as Clive Palmer and Joe Hockey.

    The US troops from southern Japan won’t be coming to Australia as it’s too far from the main area of engagement. Currently they are meant to be going to Guam. But in reality they will probably stay in Japan as Tokyo really does not want them to leave.

    BTW - the Japanese taxpayer pays a pretty penny for hosting them - which is about the only real reason they would ever agree to letting them be moved out of Japan. Otherwise the geopolitics of Asia today is very very different to what it was 20 years ago, and most east Asian countries are more than happy to host US military bases. Just wait for Vietnam to do a deal with the US during Obama’s second term. They’ll probably have a virtual US naval base back there by 2015.

    by Simon Mansfield on May 1, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  20. SimonM - interesting PoV. And thanks for the research on SAIC.

    by AR on May 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm

  21. I find it hilarious that SAIC, Stratfor and the galaxy of private spy organisations could exist and yet not one of them could un-cover the Al Qaida threat to the twin towers, nor could they find Bin Laden for 10 years. What exactly do they provide to the community? It can’t be security…can it?

    by Glenn Brandham on May 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

  22. @Glenn,
    Spot on, in 1968, their ancestors, informed us that they thought that the Viet Cong, were going to break the TET, truce, they with all their whizbangs, didnt know that uncle Ho had placed over onehundred thousand North Vietnamese regular troops, in the South, waiting for the order to attack, SUPRISE, SUPRISE, I certainly was suprised when they hit.
    So much for these so called INTELLIGENCE types!!!

    by kennethrobinson2 on May 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

  23. Kenneth and Glenn,

    Not to overlook the fall of the Berlin Wall or the dissembling of the USSR, the US ‘intelligence’ didn’t have a clue on either of those. For the sake of their intelligence agents let’s hope their salaries aren’t results-based otherwise they would be living in penury.

    by zut alors on May 2, 2012 at 11:48 am

  24. In the UK, these same sorts of organisations are the tools of choice for media moguls ala rupert murdoch, my questions are, do we, as citizens of Australia have any protection from these organisations or are we the grist for the mill? Does each trip to Victoria come complete with a detailed dossier of your movements and conversations as well as expentitures? You know, the sort of information detailed exquisitely by Martin Hickman and Tom Watson in their book, Dial M for Murdoch. Is Australia the last resort for exploitation by murdoch and others like him? The UK is opening itself up to 12 separate inquiries into phone hacking, illegal data retrieval and assorted other spying practises by murdoch’s News International. It seems that the pollies are aligning themselves with the outraged population and will move to strengthen privacy laws in the UK. So why are these organisations being permitted to set up shop over here? Having read that book, I can tell you that at no time did Stratfor nor SAIC, nor any other of that galaxy I mentioned earlier, ever un-cover any wrong doing by News International, ever. Wow, aren’t they on the cutting edge???

    by Glenn Brandham on May 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  25. Zut, ken & Glenn - back in the daze of antiwar & hippies 60-70s, it was always a great comfort to know how inept the alphabet soup agencies were.
    Pity that cretinous incompetence extended to doing… you know… real stuff of some worth to the community paying their salaries.

    by AR on May 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

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