Quite apart from the rights or wrongs of the U.S. government using commercial social media for espionage or to organize political subversion in Cuba, the case presents another troubling issue: ZunZuneo was being run through a private operator, a firm called Mobile Accord, that had won a financial contract from the U.S. government. This is consistent with a growing pattern in recent years, in which implementation of the most sensitive aspects of American security policy is increasingly handed over to contractors who are working for money, not necessarily for philosophical or even patriotic reasons. The mercenary firm Blackwater, renamed XE and then Academi (after earning notoriety in the killing of seventeen Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, in 2007), has effectively become an action arm of the C.I.A., its personnel loading the missiles on the drones that are fired at presumed terrorists based on White House decisions. Clearly, there are risks to this ever-expanding outsourcing. That outraged patriot who divulged the N.S.A.’s secrets was first a C.I.A. and then an N.S.A. contractor.
Mercenaries are, you know, mercenaries.