Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 top-secret intelligence gathering by the government has grown so unwieldy and expensive that no one really knows what it cost and how many people are involved, The Washington Post reported Monday. (The Post's incredible article, written by Pultizer-prize winning reporter Dana Priest, can be found here).
A two-year investigation by the newspaper uncovered what it termed a "Top Secret America" that's mostly hidden from public view and largely lacking in oversight.
In its first installment of a series of reports, the Post said there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S.
Some 854,000 people — or nearly 1 1/2 times the number of people who live in Washington — have top-secret security clearance, the paper said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Post that he doesn't believe the massive bureaucracy of government and private intelligence has grown too large to manage, but it is sometimes hard to get precise information.
"Nine years after 9/11, it makes sense to sort of take a look at this and say, 'OK, we've built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?" he said.
The head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, said he knows that with the growing budget deficits the level of spending on intelligence will likely be reduced and he's at work on a five-year plan for the agency.
The White House had been anticipating the Post report and said before it was published that the Obama administration came into office aware of the problems and is trying to fix them.
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