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Report: US Officials Worry About Outsourcing Intelligence

CIA Director Leon Panetta, left, and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (file photo)

A U.S. newspaper says U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Central Intelligence Agency chief Leon Panetta say they are worried the U.S. is relying too much on private contractors in intelligence operations.

Their comments were published Tuesday in The Washington Post newspaper as part of a series about national security.

The Post found that nearly one-third of the 854,000 Americans who have top-secret security clearances are private contractors and not federal employees.

Panetta said the U.S. has relied on contractors for too long to do work that should be done by CIA employees. He said private companies working for the government have a conflict between making profits and serving the country.

Gates echoed those statements, saying the government wants workers who "care about the country" and not just money.

The newspaper said the U.S. pushed to hire contractors after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks because the process was much faster than the federal hiring system and would save money.

Gates said he is trying to reduce the number of defense contractors to pre-September 11 levels, and that contractors actually cost the government 25 percent more than federal workers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.