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Monday, July 19, 2010

Massive, unaccountable and secretive national security apparatus constructed since 9/11 has become "fourth branch of government"

Washington Post Investigates U.S. Intelligence
(The New American) -- by Warren Mass --

On July 19, the Washington Post published the first installment in a series of investigative reports looking at the U.S. intelligence community’s massive growth since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Post titles the series, posted on a special website established for the project : “Top Secret America.”

The lead reporters on “Top Secret America,” the result of two years of research, are William Arkin and Pulitzer Prize-winner Dana Priest.

The voiceover narrating the introduction to the report at the Post’s website is ominous: “We are all aware that there are three branches of government in the United States, but in response to 9-11, a fourth branch has emerged. It is protected from public scrutiny by extraordinary secrecy: Top Secret America.”

The Post reports that “33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001,” occupying about 17 million square feet of space — the equivalent of nearly three Pentagons.

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," reported the Post.

Additionally, “an estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his interview with the Post, denied that the intelligence network has become too big to manage. But he admitted that getting precise data is sometimes difficult. He also said that he intends to review those programs for waste, noting: “Nine years after 9/11, it makes a lot of sense to sort of take a look at this and say, ‘Okay, we've built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?’”

“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that — not just for the DNI [director of national intelligence], but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense — is a challenge,” Gates told the Post last week.

The Post said that its investigation was “based on government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social networking Web sites, additional records, and hundreds of interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials and former officials,” noting that most of the latter had requested anonymity...MORE...LINK

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