Report on Top Secret America

The Washington Post presents Top Secret America, containing its findings following a two year report on the U.S. intelligence system

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.

A few other findings:

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.

This will be a really interesting report to delve through and digest in detail.

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  • Display: Sort:
    this is great! (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 01:41:10 PM EST
    an intelligence apparatus so secret, it doesn't even know it exists!

    we have achieved kafka.

    Dr. Griffin tells the rest of the story (none / 0) (#1)
    by Yes2Truth on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 11:00:18 AM EST
    I watched a mom going through (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 11:42:49 AM EST
    airport security w/2 kids and a double stroller.  What a hassle.  Glad I missed this phase of travel w/young children.

    What I have always (none / 0) (#3)
    by JamesTX on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 11:52:04 AM EST
    been concerned about is the extent to which the fruits of this surveillance can be turned over to civil authorities and used in ordinary domestic law enforcement. I am curious if there is any way of measuring or estimating the extent to which that is happening. I remember a brief flap about the words "a cause" versus "the cause" in the Patriot Act which had to do with the types of cases in which the evidence could used. Naturally, the "a cause" folks won overwhelmingly wrapped in their flags, and we are now living with it. If the snooping results can be used for ordinary domestic law enforcement, we have a big problem, because it is an end run around many Constitutional protections.

    And People Claim... (none / 0) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 12:00:51 PM EST
    ... Bush failed.  He only failed 99% of us, the hawks could not be more pleased.  This was Dick Cheney's wet dream a decade ago.

    Too bad the article didn't give an guestimate as to how much all of this is costing.

    I dunno (none / 0) (#5)
    by AlkalineDave on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 12:54:20 PM EST
    TS is compartmented into different caveats that control accesses.  I personally believe we need as many as possible read in who can be read in.  This allows information sharing and more ideas brought to the table.

    Also, I think if people knew the reason most information is classified (protecting sources being a big one) it would seem a lot less glamorous or sensational.  

    With 854,000 people involved, (none / 0) (#6)
    by shoephone on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 01:16:57 PM EST
    how safe can the "secrets" be? The fact that the secrecy industry is now so expansive and unwieldy makes the likelihood of anything being truly top secret a joke. And every spy agency has its share of money grubbers. How many of these 854,000 are on the take?

    I thank the gods that reporters like Dana Priest, Jane Mayer, and Lauara Rozen are still working to expose the nefarious exploits of the Bush/Cheney regime. At least we know we are f*cked. Not that there's anything we can do about it -- especially since Obama's been rubber-stamping all of it.

    Wonder where million$ in economic stimulus (none / 0) (#8)
    by shoephone on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 03:12:41 PM EST
    money is going? Wonder no more. Who needs small businesses when construction of those SCIFs is now the booming business?

    Whaddya know. The Obama administration actually did create jobs -- and they're all in Top Secret America.

    854,000 jobs goes along way (none / 0) (#9)
    by BTAL on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 03:26:57 PM EST
    to that magical 2.5 "saved" or created number.  Guess govt intel and supporting contractor jobs are not good enough for stimulus praise here?

    Not when the intel agencies (none / 0) (#10)
    by shoephone on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 03:56:16 PM EST
    continue to be so fracking incompetent. Building more fortresses, hiring more contractors, and buying more computer systems that can't communicate with each other isn't making us safer. Read the article.

    I did read the article (none / 0) (#11)
    by BTAL on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 04:04:17 PM EST
    and also worked in that community for over 10 years.  Have been to many of the locations listed.

    As was mentioned in the other thread, everything is stimulative, even all those new buildings, computers, system services jobs.    

    Again, guess those don't count.


    That's one spook... (none / 0) (#12)
    by desertswine on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 08:44:19 PM EST
    for every 361 Americans. That's just nuts.

    TS (none / 0) (#13)
    by AlkalineDave on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 08:58:11 AM EST
    is used for much more than intel.  Also, there are people who have TS clearance who never use it but, by their jobs, require to be read in.

    Such as (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 09:26:52 AM EST
    The janitor that was mentioned.

    Or (none / 0) (#16)
    by AlkalineDave on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 02:09:32 PM EST
    people who deal in personnel and physical security who require access to classified work spaces but never need access to intelligence products.

    Or (none / 0) (#15)
    by AlkalineDave on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 02:09:14 PM EST
    people who deal in personnel and physical security who require access to classified work spaces but never need access to intelligence products.