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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TOP SECRET AMERICA EXPLOSIVE NEWS ON WASHINGTON POST: More than 1,200 government organizations and nearly 2,000 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in 10,000 locations. « Goliath Is Falling Dow

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Top-secret-america
An explosive investigative series published in the Washington Post today begins, “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.” Among the findings: An estimated 854,000 people hold top-secret security clearances. More than 1,200 government organizations and nearly 2,000 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in 10,000 locations. We speak with one of the co-authors of the series, Bill Arkin. [includes rush transcript]
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"Top Secret America" Washington Post Investigation Reveals Massive, Unmanageable, Outsourced US Intelligence System
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/19/top_secret_america__washington_post
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AMY GOODMAN: “Top Secret America.” That’s the title of an explosive investigative series published in the Washington Post this morning that’s already creating a firestorm on Capitol Hill. It starts, quote, “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.”
Some of the findings of the two-year investigation include more than 1,200 government organizations and nearly 2,000 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 one-and-a-half times as many as live in Washington, DC—hold top-secret security clearances. Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste.
The series by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Bill Arkin includes an online searchable database and locator map. PBS Frontlineis producing an hour-long documentary on the investigation that will run in October. This is its trailer.
    NARRATOR: You think you know America. But you don’t know Top Secret America. We’re 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.  WILLIAM ARKIN: This is a closed community. And since 9/11, it’s become even more so. DANA PRIEST: The money spigot was just opened after 9/11, and nobody dared say, “I don’t think we should be spending that much.” NARRATOR: It has become so big, and the lines of responsibility are so blurred, that even our nation’s leaders don’t have a handle on it. Where is it? It’s being built from coast to coast, hidden within some of America’s most familiar cities and neighborhoods—in Colorado, in Nebraska, in Texas, in Florida, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Top Secret America includes hundreds of federal departments and agencies operating out of 1,300 facilities around this country. They contract the services of nearly 2,000 companies. In all, more people than live in our nation’s capital have top-secret security clearance. DANA PRIEST: It’s, again, the size, the lack of transparency and the cost. And if we don’t get it right, the consequences are gigantic.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Washington Post writer Dana Priest, the trailer from the upcoming PBS Frontline documentary on “Top Secret America” that features Priest and Bill Arkin.
The investigative series is already creating waves in the intelligence community. More than two weeks ago, the director of communications for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Art House, sent a memo to public affairs officers in the intelligence community warning about the series. He wrote, quote, “This series has been a long time in preparation and looks designed to cast the [intelligence community] and the [Department of Defense] in an unfavorable light. We need to anticipate and prepare so that the good work of our respective organizations is effectively reflected in communications with employees, secondary coverage in the media and in response to questions,” he wrote.
Well, Bill Arkin is the co-author of the piece. He’s joining us now from the offices of the Washington Post in Washington, DC.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Bill. Why don’t you first lay out the scope of this series and why you started this two years ago?
WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, two years ago, Dana and I got together, and we were actually just talking to each other about various things that we were working on, and we realized very quickly that we were looking at something that was very similar and that we had both detected in our long years of work in the national security world that something had been created since 9/11 that wasn’t normal, that wasn’t on the books, that looked like it was a gigantic superstructure on top of regular government. And we started our investigation to try to figure out what it is that we were looking at, and here we are two years later revealing our conclusions.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what those conclusions are. What did you find, Bill?
WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, really, the most significant thing that we found, Amy, is not that the intelligence agency or the vast homeland security apparatus does work in this field and that is—and that they are engaged in counterterrorism. Really the most significant finding, to me, is the number of private companies in America who have been enlisted in the war on terrorism and who have now become an intrinsic part of government, really where the line is blurred between government and private sector. And the fact that there are almost 2,000 companies that do top-secret work in—for the intelligence community and the military is not only surprising to me as someone who actually put together the data, but it really asks some fundamental questions about the nature of government and the nature of accountability.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about these 2,000 companies.
WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, you know, it’s funny. We think of the military-industrial complex in a sort of old-fashioned way still. In fact, we don’t even have an appropriate word to describe what this enterprise is today, and we’ve struggled ourselves to try to figure that out. You know, the military-industrial complex of the Eisenhower era was one that produced massive amounts of capital goods for the military—bombers, missiles, nuclear weapons, etc. But today’s national security establishment really values information technology more than it values weapons. And really, one of the things that was most surprising to us, but maybe not so surprising given the nature of society, is that a half of the companies in this particular area are really IT companies, information technology companies, and support companies.


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TOP SECRET AMERICA EXPLOSIVE NEWS ON WASHINGTON POST: More than 1,200 government organizations and nearly 2,000 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in 10,000 locations. « Goliath Is Falling Down

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