Top Secret America

Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
— Benjamin Franklin

The Washington Post has a long history of investigative journalism.   I was a regular reader when I was in  college, when the Post reported on the Watergate break-in, and (along with the New York Times) on the Pentagon Papers.  So I was most interested  to see, in this morning’s Post, the first article in a new series, “Top Secret America”, which discusses the explosive growth in domestic intelligence and security services since September 11, 2001.  There is also an accompanying Web site that includes not only the articles, but also additional graphic and video content.  This is all as the result of a two-year investigation by the Post‘s staff.   Not surprisingly in an area that has “growed like Topsy”, the structure and organization of this effort seem to leave something to be desired.

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.

According  to the Post, there are 1,271 governmental and 1.931 private organizations involved in this effort, scattered across ~10,000 locations in the US.  There are something like 854,000 people who now have Top Secret security clearances.  One wonders how secret anything can be that is (potentially) known to so many people.

I have not, obviously, had time to read and digest all this material yet.  But, assuming the facts are rougly correct, it is hard to imagine that anyone really has an overall grasp of what is going on.

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