by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin
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.
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. . . .
This is not exactly President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "military-industrial
complex," which emerged with the Cold War and centered on building nuclear
weapons to deter the Soviet Union. This is a national security enterprise
with a more amorphous mission: defeating transnational violent extremists.
Much of the information about this mission is classified. That is the reason
it is so difficult to gauge the success and identify the problems of Top
Secret America, including whether money is being spent wisely. The U.S.
intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion,
21/2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn't include
many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.
At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off
terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. . . .
The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances,
265,000 are contractors. There is no better example of the government's
dependency on them than at the CIA, the one place in government that exists
to do things overseas that no other U.S. agency is allowed to do.
Private contractors working for the CIA have recruited spies in Iraq, paid
bribes for information in Afghanistan and protected CIA directors visiting
world capitals. Contractors have helped snatch a suspected extremist off the
streets of Italy, interrogated detainees once held at secret prisons abroad
and watched over defectors holed up in the Washington suburbs. At Langley
headquarters, they analyze terrorist networks. At the agency's training
facility in Virginia, they are helping mold a new generation of American
spies. . . .
FULL TEXT, INTERACTIVE CHARTS, VIDEO, ETC
Smedley Darlington Butler,"'War Is A
Racket'," The Wisdom Fund, September 11, 2001
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, "The Enormous Cost
of War," Nation, August 17, 2007