The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. So contends a series of articles that broke today (July 19) in the Washington Post.
These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The investigation's other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
Security Magazine’s Blog just received this reaction from Acting Director of National Intelligence, David C. Gompert, to the Washington Post series/
“This morning, the Washington Post began a series of articles on the growth of the Intelligence Community following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The reporting does not reflect the Intelligence Community we know.
“We accept that we operate in an environment that limits the amount of information we can share. However, the fact is, the men and women of the Intelligence Community have improved our operations, thwarted attacks, and are achieving untold successes every day.
“In recent years, we have reformed the IC in ways that have improved the quality, quantity, regularity, and speed of our support to policymakers, warfighters, and homeland defenders, and we will continue our reform efforts. We provide oversight, while also encouraging initiative. We work constantly to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies, while preserving a degree of intentional overlap among agencies to strengthen analysis, challenge conventional thinking, and eliminate single points of failure. We are mindful of the size of our contractor ranks, but greatly value the critical flexibility and specialized skills they contribute to our mission.
“The challenges that lie ahead are difficult and complex. We will continue to scrutinize our own operations, seek ways to improve and adapt, and work with Congress on its crucial oversight and reform efforts. We can always do better, and we will. And the importance of our mission and our commitment to keeping America safe will remain steadfast, whether they are reflected in the day’s news or not.” -- David C. Gompert
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