Competition (Or Lack, Thereof) Among Spies

Monday, 10 Jun 2013 | 10:07 AM ET
Source: Wikipedia

Before the NSA/Snowden/Booz Allen Hamilton story became a story, there was little public chatter about the "third party" nature of intelligence and defense subcontractors.

Yet it's a way of life in the incestuous world of Washington, one that Booz Allen spells out in typically matter-of-fact style in the "competition" subsection of its annual "10-K" SEC filing.

In the wake of Booz's disclosure that whistle-blower Edward Snowden had been an employee for three months, the company's public disclosures take on new meaning—especially this one that that normally would slip under the radar as mere boilerplate:

"In the course of doing business, we compete and collaborate with companies of all types and sizes. We strive to maintain positive and productive relationships with these organizations. Some of them hire us as a subcontractor, and we hire some of them to work with us as our subcontractors."

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Compete and collaborate? Positive and productive relationships? They hire us, we hire them?

They call this "competition?"

Only in Washington.

—By CNBC's Herb Greenberg. Follow him on Twitter: @herbgreenberg and Google.

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