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Oakland's Surveillance Contractor Has a History of Fraud

The multibillion-dollar company hired to build a citywide surveillance system also has a record of supplying weapons and training to anti-democratic governments around the world.

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SAIC's employees are also literally killing people. SAIC is one of the contractors involved in the Air Force and CIA's drone-assassination missions. According to a 2011 Los Angeles Times report, SAIC's employees "work in the so-called kill chain before Hellfire missiles are launched." The kill chain refers to the group of military personnel and contractors who help analyze video from drones, direct the vehicles, and conduct airstrikes. SAIC employees work at Air Force bases in Clovis, New Mexico, near Las Vegas, and at Fort Walton Beach, Florida — centers of the US military's drone operations, according to job postings on SAIC's website.

The company is at the center of the recently revealed mosaic of NSA spy operations, many of which gather data on US residents. The company is the main contractor for the XKeyscore system, which allows the federal government and its contractors like SAIC to collect and sift through data revealing "nearly everything a user does on the Internet," according to reports in the Guardian newspaper, which broke the story.

Increasingly militarized US border operations is another profit center for SAIC. The company provided engineering services to the Department of Homeland Security to build a sixty-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border. For the Coast Guard, SAIC developed a biometric database used to track immigrants in the Caribbean. SAIC's technology includes a camera used to photograph the faces of detained immigrants. Their "facial captures" are stored in a database, and software is used to biometrically identify detainees, most of who are Haitians and Dominicans.

The common thread in SAIC's business ventures is the company's ability to turn a profit, no matter how shoddy the end product. "Part of the contracting ethos is that you never really solve the problem you just keep pouring money into it," explained Shorrock. "If you never complete it, that's good," he said, referring to the fact that profit streams will keep flowing in for companies like SAIC.

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