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A New Addition to the Blogroll: Top Secret America

Last week The Washington Post unleashed a two-year investigative report about the rapid, largely unsupervised expansion of the American intelligence community. After spending a few hours browsing the site they created, I decided that I didn’t want to just tweet this article.

I wanted to link to it on our blogroll.

Top Secret America goes beyond just good reporting, it is also a resource--one that can be browsed for hours. In addition to a series of three articles, Dana Priest and William M. Arkin have catalogued the scope of America’s Top Secret security clearance community, mapping and listing the companies and agencies that make up our intelligence services.

This interactive website that is more comprehensive then anything the government has. I have a feeling top intelligence officials were learning plenty from reading this article, not to mention the greater public and politicians. This will be the go-to resource for intel officials who want to know about the entire apparatus.

Just think about what this website and series of articles means for our intelligence system. What does it mean that I, a military intelligence professional engaged in intelligence work every day, have spent hours looking at this site? What does it say about our intelligence branch when two reporters probably written a report with more accurate, insightful, comprehensive and effective information then anything by the intelligence community?

And the two reporters did it with mostly publicly available information. All this stuff is already out there, they just compiled it in a meaningful and analytic way; the way intelligence people are supposed to do with their work. (For example, much of their information is in Jeffrey Richelson’s The U.S. Intelligence Community, that covers much of the same ground.)

More than anything else, Top Secret America shows the lack of comprehensive oversight and planning of our national intelligence community. It also shows the unhealthy reliance on contractors at every level. Plain and simple, this is an article people interested in intelligence and national security should read from front to back, and hopefully politicians do too. Hopefully we’ll have more on it in the future, we know we’ll be using it as a resource.

(To learn more, check out these On The Media and Talk of the Nation interviews with the writers.)

five comments

The scariest part, to me, is the rise in private contractors. Why is our gov farming out jobs to businesses? Who thought Robocop would come true?


I like the spur of competitive investigaive reporting Wikileaks and Rolling Stone has forced onto the table lately.

Wikileaks just broke a story again going straight to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel. The Wall Street Journal writes a little story about military operations in Pakistan other than drones (something it wouldn´t have even mentioned a year ago) even though the article sounds like Pentagon spin. The Washington Post has released this as well claiming it has taken years to research but I´m guessing the timing for release isn´t that coincidental. If this brings back investigative journalism to the realm of mainstream media I would be pleased, I´m getting tired of talking head punditry.

I´m guessing the DoD is also learning that hiding things behind a wall of PR, and using PR like Psyops on the American people isn´t working anymore. They really have to start being more transparent about what they´re doing and not just classifying everything and hiding it from the public view. There is a balance to find between legitimate OPSEC and transparency and accountability.


@ Chris C – On that, someone needs to do a report on Lone Survivor’s BS.

I like the concept of wikileaks, but I have heard interviews by the creator and I’m not impressed by his ideology. But investigative journalism and whistle blowers are crucial to a functioning democracy.


Why is our gov farming out jobs to businesses? Who thought Robocop would come true?

And Eisenhower is being constantly proven right.


Yeah Eisenhower is constantly proven right, just know one realizes he was warning us against the industrial machine.

As for investigative journalism, it is vital and I think the non-profits that have sprung up to support it are doing an amazing job as well.