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Five years ago, "you'd never have a contractor supporting an operation on the field where they're making a recommendation to an officer," said Humphrey. Nor would you find a contractor "making little contributions here and there" in the reports intelligence officers sent back to Washington. "This concerns me a lot, the way these lines are blurring," he went on. "We shouldn't be involved in some of these intelligence operations, or the planning, or the interrogations and what have you."
The intelligence professionals in the room looked stunned. They had just sat through two days of upbeat discussions about the annual $10-billion expansion of U.S. intelligence budgets and the opportunities that money presented for defense contractors, information technology vendors, and former national security officials who still held their top secret security clearances. Upstairs in the exhibition hall, thirty-five companies were displaying the latest high-tech spying equipment and competing to recruit new employees, who could earn up to three times government pay by migrating to the private sector. Words like "blowback" did not come easily at such gatherings.