Monday, July 19, 2010

An Excess Of Intelligence


... that's not what you would expect from the U.S. government, but the Washington Post has done a study that strongly indicates exactly that. From the study itself:

A hidden world, growing beyond control 

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.

  • 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.

  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
If you read this blog, none of this will surprise you... not that I've reported it in detail; Ms. Priest has the skills and resources to do that... but that from the Bush era forward, our government has been obsessed with an improper and, to appearances, deplorably badly run mission to collect information about everyone on everything. Everyone. Everything. You know I'm not exaggerating. Read the report, but swallow your coffee first.
UPDATE: please note the ACLU's analysis of this article.


  1. I sure as hell am not surprised. It is a logical result of the insane paranoia that followed 9/11. Not to mention it gives a lot of hucksters a chance to feed at the public trough with no accountability.

  2. fallenmonk, I'm not sure we can attribute all of it to 9/11. Decades before 9/11, I remember reading of people of the J. Edgar Hoover school of thought who would have created just this sort of security apparatus if they had the technology at their disposal... and if they could get away with it. Now those sorts of people seem to be asking "who's gonna stop me?" and the answer from a fear-ridden America is "not I sir; oh no; go right ahead; I don't need my rights."

    I am disgusted.



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