Top Secret Hawaii: The ‘fourth branch of government’ reaches the Aloha State

By Jeffrey Cabanting-Rafael and Tyler Parks


HAWAII ISLAND—Top Secret America is the name The Washington Post has given to a two-year investigation into what reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin are calling a virtual fourth branch of government. After the events of September 11, under cover of a claim to prevent similar attacks in the future, the Bush Administration authorized the expenditure of vast amounts of money to expand the reach of America’s intelligence services. Since then, an astonishing number of private contractors have taken over the business of spying for our country. According to The Washington Post, nearly 2,000 private companies working at 1,300 locations employing about 850,000 people with top-level security clearances make up this national security network.

Top Secret America has spread across the nation. In every state, there are at least five government or private companies listed, including Hawaii. According to the research Priest and Arkin produced, Hawaii is now home to 41 government work locations and 86 privately-owned companies that are part of this out-sourced intelligence operation.

“It has become so big, that even our nation’s leaders don’t have a handle on it,” a voice voice narrates in the investigation’s video trailer.

Youth News for The Hawaii Independent wanted to know more about the Aloha State?s involvement in the network. Of the 127 work locations tallied for Hawaii, there are two on Kauai, three on Maui and one on Hawaii Island; the rest are all on Oahu. Although Arkin sent Youth News an email stating that the Top Secret America website had all the information the reporters had uncovered, using it produced the names of only six Oahu-based companies. They are Akimeka LLC, DS Informational System Corporation, JTSI Inc, Omega Federation, Referentia Systems, and Ventura Technology.

There are odd similarities in all the businesses appearing on Priest and Arkin’s list. They are all “8(a) companies,” which means they are part of a federal program that aids privately owned companies run by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals. The companies also all aid the military with “advanced technology” support.

Akimeka LLC is a Native Hawaiian Organization (NHO) delivering technology driven solutions. It is a web service-enabled cross-domain solution that aids in the sharing and protecting of vital information by enabling authorized users to quickly and securely access and manage data from different classification levels. They tout their specialty as granting military decision makers, intelligence analysts, and war fighters access to complete information they need to make the informed decisions required for mission success.

The following is a list of organizations that Akimeka has served:

* The Joint Staff
* Office of Naval Research
* DoD/Health Affairs
* Office of the Surgeon General—Army
* U.S. Medical Research and Material Command
* Force Health Protection and Readiness
* Defense Health Information Management Systems
* Medical Logistics Division of the Defense Health Services Systems
* Joint Medical Logistics Functional Development Center
* Defense Supply Center Philladelphia
* Defense Information Systems Agency
* U.S. Army
* U.S. Pacific Command
* U.S. Central Command
* U.S. South Command
* U.S. North Command
* U.S. Joint Forces Command
* Army Center for Substance Abuse
* Madigan Army Medical Center
* Office of the Army Surgeon General
* Tripler Army Medical Center
* Air Force Research Lab
* Hickam AFB
* Wheeler AFB
* Hamakua Health Clinic
* Maui Police Department
* Kauai Police Department
* Hawaii Police Department
* University of Hawai’i

DS Information Systems (DSIS) started out selling time division multiplex, vacuum tubes, and copper wire serving the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps in every continent since the 1960s. The company specializes in military communications, including design, installation, operation, maintenance, and repair. DSIS has worked in the MAJCOM and MACOM staffs, base, camp, post, station, and afloat as well. They built the POM (Program Objective Memorandum) and FINPLAN (Financial Plan).

Here’s a promotional quote from their website: “We understand especially the pressures of the one-year appropriation, and the
‘expense/investment’ threshold that drives decision makers to the procurement appropriation. DSIS has extensive experience in analyzing the finer nuances of the Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA).’

JTSI Inc focuses on voice, video, and networking communication solutions. Although based in Hawaii, they have teams working under major contracts in Iraq, Japan, Guam, Korea, and the continental United States as well, where they serve the U.S. DoD, NATO, and the United Nations. JSTI also works to aid state and local governments and commercial businesses. This quote on their website includes shades of the concerns Dana and Arkin present in their piece: “As a Native Hawaiian Organization (NHO) owned company, the Super 8(a) classification enables them to accept non-bid Department of Defense contracts with no dollar limit.”

Omega Federation Team claims to service all aspects of the government involving strategic solutions, service management, contract management, operations management, maritime support, and cultural resources. As part of what they call “strategic solutions,” Omega’s team offers long term planning, technology trending, strategic awareness, strategic modeling, and strategic situational solutions. Their tactical operations team helps develop facilities, manage day-to-day logistics in the field and provide situational analysis.

Founded in 1996, Referentia Systems touts itself as an award-winning, SBA-certified 8(a)/SBD provider of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, advanced technology solutions, and information technology and services. Responsible for onsite support at military instillations all over the world, Referentia Systems provides science and technology expertise to government and corporate customers solve complex and critical problems.

Ventura Technology is a Hawaii-based SBA 8(a)-designated company founded in 1998 that offers professional information technology (IT) services to government and private industry in the Pacific. Its main function is in support of the Department of Defense, providing special service in highly sensitive areas including intelligence, operations, and telecommunications systems.

With such broad-based descriptions of the services they provide, it is difficult to know exactly what role these companies play in Top Secret America.

Priest and Arkin conducted hundreds of interviews at a number of levels in all the major branches of government involved in the War on Terror. According to Priest, “The money spigot was just opened after 9/11 and nobody dared say, ‘I don’t think we should be spending that much.”

For information, maps, and videos on Secret America refer to the Washington Post website at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/.

Editor’s note: The website Arkin was referring to was the Top Secret America website, not the Transportation Security Administration website. The Hawaii Independent apologizes for the copy editing error. (7/28/19)

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