News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 9, 2011: Ten years after 9/11, the top-secret world that the U.S. government created in response to the terrorist attacks has become so enormous and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs.
That’s according to award-winning reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin, who released a new book, “TOP SECRET AMERICA,” ahead of the 9/11 anniversary Sunday.
The authors say what they have uncovered is a system that employs so many people the number is not exactly known.
In “this invisible universe” there are “over 1,300 government facilities in every state in America; nearly 2,000 outside companies used as contractors; and more than 850,000 people granted “Top Secret” security clearance.”
“So what you have are good-hearted people and companies and employees who are doing what they think they can get paid for and what might help but so much of it is reinventing the wheel that another organization has already reinvented five times,” says Priest.
Worst, in this tough economic times, Priest added: “The FBI has a finite budget and so much of their attention has been ordered to be focused on terrorism, other things have suffered as a result.”
Yet, both authors agree that the resulting system put in place to keep the United States safe may be putting us in greater danger.
The authors pulled the information from confidential interviews with senior officials and former officials; work contracts; job websites; social media sites; contractor and government websites among others.
Priest also profiled the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, the clandestine military command that now conducts more anti-terrorism operations than the CIA. The organization, established in 1980, conducted hostage rescues for many years. It has since developed into a highly secretive and lethal force responsible for reconnaissance and targeted military operations — including the one last May in Pakistan that found and killed Osama Bin Laden.
Priest is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The Washington Post. She spent three years as the Post’s intelligence reporter and was the Pentagon correspondent for seven years before that. She covered the invasion of Panama (1989), reported from Iraq (1990), covered the Kosovo war (1999) and traveled widely with the Army Special Forces. Her widely acclaimed 2003 book about the military’s expanding responsibility and influence, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military, earned the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction.
Arkin writes the “Early Warning” blog for washingtonpost.com. He is the author of a number of books on military affairs, an NBC-TV News military analyst and has consulted for numerous organizations.