Journalists, activists, and corporate researchers will be able to use the Internet site SpiesForHire.org, a special presentation of Crocodyl.org, to track the nation’s most important intelligence contractors.
After journalist Tim Shorrock’s 2008 investigation, U.S. officials confirmed that 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget goes directly to private companies working under contract to the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies. With the U.S. intelligence budget estimated at $60 billion a year, the outsourced business of intelligence is a $45 billion annual industry.
To help the public and media understand this new phenomenon, CorpWatch is joining today with Shorrock, the first journalist to blow the whistle on the privatization of U.S. intelligence, to create a groundbreaking database focusing on the dozens of corporations that provide classified intelligence services to the United States government.
This database expands on Shorrock’s 2008 book, SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.
Read the full press release at the Corpwatch site
Corpwatch.org, with support from the Sunlight Foundation, announces release of the CrocTail application and open CorpWatch API.
CrocTail provides an interface for browsing information about several hundred thousand U.S. publicly traded corporations and their many foreign and domestic subsidiaries. Information from company Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings has been parsed and annotated by CorpWatch to highlight specific corporate accountability issues. CrocTail also serves as a demonstration of the features and data available through the CorpWatch API.
CrocTail is an extension of the Crocodyl.org Wiki web site project, an online compendium profiling the accountability and transparency track records of multinational corporations.
“The CrocTail application has particular relevance at this moment, with the public eye focused on the structural nature of corporate abuses, including multinational tax-avoidance and the use of off-shore subsidiaries to evade responsibility for human rights violations,” said Tonya Hennessey, project director at CorpWatch. “In the most egregious cases, corporations use subsidiaries to cloud their investments in dictatorships and violent regimes. Chevron in Burma and Marathon in Equatorial Guinea are two examples.” One of the goals of the project is to make it transparently easy for users to research the structure of corporations and pinpoint where they operate.
By visiting CrocTail, users can search the entire subsidiaries database; and see a window displaying known issues with subsidiaries, direct links to the root SEC filings, and links to the Crocodyl.org profile; a world map pinpointing subsidiary locations; and an expandable subsidiary tree for navigating the hierarchy. (Click on Halliburton Co for an example.) The site also has an edit mode, making it possible for registered researchers to add value by tagging subsidiaries with issues notes which will be automatically linked to the parent company profiles.
What does the CorpWatch API do that the SEC doesn’t?
Although the SEC website has a search page for locating company filings (EDGAR / IDEA), the subsidiary information is not standardized. The CorpWatch developers wrote parsers to “scrape” the subsidiary relationship information from Exhibit 21 of the 10-K filings, and then built an "API" (Application Programming Interface) to provide a well-structured interface for web programs to query and process the subsidiary data.
Coded by Skye Bender-deMoll and Greg Michalec, the CorpWatch API is available free to anyone who registers and abides by the Terms of Service. Using the API requires enough programming knowledge to be able to parse JSON or XML. For more information visit: http://api.corpwatch.org.
We're very excited and very proud to announce that we have started the technical development phase of our EDGAR database Mashup project, supported by the Sunlight Foundation.
The aim of the EDGAR/Mashup project is to create an open database of parent/subsidiary relationships among all publicly traded companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The data will come from sub-files that make up part of the 10-K annual filings that all publicly traded firms must submit to the SEC.
If you've been following Crocodyl for a while you will remember this idea was one of the Featured Projects at Netsquared N2Y3 conference.
This project is full of interesting challenges, for example, overcoming pulling data that is not always uniformly formatted together into one database. We are having conversations with other projects that are focusing on similar data sets, so we can eventually present our data together. These are all great projects that are doing valuable work to make corporate data widely available:
If you'd like to send us feedback and comments about the EDGAR/Mashup project, please do so. We'll be posting periodic updates on its status.
Our collaborator Phil Mattera has recently published a profile of Vale, a Brazilian mining corporation with Canadian ties. From the snapshot:
"Over the past decade, Brazil-based Vale has evolved from a large but little known producer of iron ore to one of the world’s mining leviathans—the only one based in the Global South. The major factor in its growth was the US$19 billion acquisition of Canada’s big nickel producer Inco in 2006. It also made an aborted effort to acquire the Swiss mining giant Xstrata. Originally a government-owned firm called Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (literally, “sweet river valley company"), Vale was privatized in 1997. Since then it has been more aggressive in its exploration and its labor policies, coming into conflict with indigenous groups, environmentalists and trade unions both in Brazil and abroad."
With profiles on companies like Vale, we continue to focus on extractive industry corporations and their environmental, labor and human rights records in the Global South.
My name is Lena Zúñiga and I'm the new coordinator for the Crocodyl.org project. As part of the many changes and improvements we're planning for the Crocodyl.org wiki, I will continue to update this news page.
The first piece of news we have on the site is the beginning of an exciting collaboration with three Southern based researchers in India. Nityanand, Dharmesh and T. Venkat will start building profiles for corporations based in South Asia.
Nityanand Jayaraman is a Chennai, India-based independent journalist, researcher and activist. He investigates and reports on corporate abuses of the environment and human rights. He is a member of the Corporate Accountability Desk collective, a voluntary group based in Chennai.
T. Venkat is an indepedent researcher interested in issues of globalization and its impact on Third World people, urbanization and economic reforms. He is also part of Corporate Accountability Desk.
Dharmesh Shah is an environmental activist and researcher based out of Chennai and Bhopal. Dharmesh has been involved in raising awareness on environmental and animal rights issues since he was in school. As a environmental justice activist he has worked with communities living around municipal garbage dumps in his town demanding their right to a clean environment and questioning unsustainable systems of waste management. Dharmesh is also engaged in an ethnographic research on the movement for justice by the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Disaster. He is working with the Queen Margaret University, Scotland and Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi on this research.
We welcome these great activists and researchers to our team of collaborators. We'll have many updates on their work on the upcoming weeks.
You can now follow us onTwitter and get highlights of our latest corporate data: http://twitter.com/crocodyl
On July 30th 2008 many news sources are reporting that weapons maker, BAE Systems Plc has successfully dodged a corruption on inquiry by the UK House of Lords. The decision can not be appealed to a higher level in the UK court systems. Meanwhile Switzerland and the US continue investigation of the company, creating a situation that could prove embarrassing to the British government.
Swiss prosecutors accuse BAE Systems of using Swiss bank accounts bribe to officials from Saudi Arabia to get large no-bid contracts. The United States concurs, continuing its investigation into the matter. The State Department mentions the UK investigation in a 2008 investment climate statement as a cautionary tale, lauding British investigators for exposing a $80 billion dollar defense contract with Saudi Arabia.
Blogger Richard Holway illustrates that BAE Systems isn't doing to bad, financially. In fact it is bidding on multi-million dollar company Detica. Blogger Richard Murphy illustrates the ways in which the UK has used the umbrella of "National Security" to maintain a favorable business climate. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade has been at the center of much of the public pressure around the Saudi contracts and has vowed to keep pressure on the company, despite the most recent ruling.