Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 19, 2010

Top Secret America – Washington Post Investigation Unveiled

Filed under: Security Contracting — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on July 19, 2010

The Washington Post unveiled this morning its extensive two-year  investigation, “Top Secret America,” into what it describes as the “national security buildup in the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks.”   The investigation includes a series of articles and online database that maps out connections, companies, and localities for much of the military, homeland security, and intelligence contracting that has occurred in the past nine years.  Chris Bellavita, as some of you might recall, noted the series in a Friday blog post American Secrets and the Washington Post last week.

It is a mammoth project that has been rumored and discussed for some time, with government officials given the opportunity to review a few months ago.  The project has raised a lot of eyebrows, with  the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic, sending out a memorandum to IC community public affairs officers a few weeks ago.  Foreign Policy also reported on Friday that the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau sent out a notice last week to the 14,574 people at the State Department warning employees not to talk to the press about the investigation.

The first article in the series, A Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control, written by Dana Priest and William Arkin, was published today.  The story focuses on what the government has done on the top secret front, including evaluating budgets, personnel, and program numbers.  Here are some interesting tidbits gleamed from today’s article:

  • There are 45 organizations (with 1,271 sub-units) engaged in top-secret work.
  • There are 1,931 companies engaged in top-secret work for the government.
  • There are approximately 854,000 individuals that hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In DC, there are 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work under construction (or build since 9/11).
  • There are more than 50,000 intelligence reports published each year.
  • At least 20 percent of counterterrorism organizations were established or recreated post-9/11.
  • The U.S. intelligence budget for last year was $75 billion (though that is only “public” number and does not include activities that might fit in to the larger “top secret” category).

The project also includes on a map 2,164 government work locations and 6,944 company work locations.  On a different graphic, it takes the 45 government organizations and breaks down who does the most work by category (e.g. intelligence, homeland security, military, etc), as well as which agency works with the most companies.  The project also includes a company database where readers can get overview information for the companies engaged in top-secret workforce.

Again, this is a tremendous project that will likely get a lot of attention from the Administration, Congress, and the contracting community.  The debate that will ensue after the investigation will likely focus on whether the post-9/11 investment in security has made the nation more secure.

While it focuses on contractors and government, the project doesn’t explore (at least does not appear to do so) the funding that went to state and local officials for security officials. That would have been an interesting add-on, especially given the continuing debate on the Hill on a number of grants programs.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 19, 2010 @ 11:40 am

Well don’t hold your breath for STATE and LOCAL data. The estimate I give is $34 Billion for various types of preparedness grants and about the same for Public Health upgrades. Almost none of this was for INTEL, probably less than $1 Billion overall. Why? Most State and local employees never recieve TS clearances and certainly never get SAP clearances. By the way FEMA lost the ability to create its own SAP programs under President George H.W. Bush. Also the National Archive and Records Administration does NOT accept SAP materials and has no provisions for housing them. That record of the Secret Government is lost permanent with most records destroyed completely after 3rd year of retirement. Hope DANA reading this blog.

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July 20, 2010 @ 2:12 am

[…] I was reading Jessica’s post yesterday and wondering what kind of intelligence one can buy with 75 billion dollars, I received an email that included three brief videos, displayed […]

Comment by John Comiskey

July 20, 2010 @ 7:42 am

While the first two parts of William M. Arkins and Dana Priest’s expose on the US Intelligence Community (IC) or as they describe it –the 4th Branch of Government seems to be sensational, there is little in the way of revelation.

Intelligence is a normative element of government. It does not occur in the abstract –things get done –things that might not be suitable for discussion get done because most people want them to get done so that they can live their lives without constant threat and worry from those that would do them harm.

While some of the practices of IC are secret, the existence of IC and its partnerships with the private sector i.e. contractors are not per se secret nor are the existence of intelligence elements in myriad government agencies.

The necessity of government partnership with the private sector pervades every post-9/11 national strategy and particularly the 2010 National Security Strategy.

The prohibition against using contractors for that which is “inherently government functions” is vague –very vague. We should not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by an ideal state of intelligence; rather we should be concerned with the best possible outcome given the realities at hand –viable threats to our national security. Civilian contractors facilitate many of the government’s intelligence requirements and particularly in the IT sector. I accept that the government should grow its own near-independent intelligence capability but until it does so, the private contractors are not an option.

The Greatest Generation was tempered by depression and world war. Nonetheless, Eisenhower warned that the emergence of a military-industrial complex would threaten the fabric of American society. The Homeland Security Generation is tempered by repeated acts of terrorism. We are now warned that the emergence of a homeland security industrial complex and particularly a fourth branch of government threatens the fabric of American society.


I thank the Washington Post for bringing these matters to the attention of the American people.

Comment by Goldman Sachs and the New American Flag v Intel Community

July 20, 2010 @ 7:48 am

While a staunch proponent that we should do all possible to protect and uphold our beloved Republic and Constitution as well as State Constitutions for our forefathers were obviously far more enlightened about Life and knew how to balance their checkbook – Judeo-Christian values and principles.

We here on Main Street USA know that in our 911 call in moment of desperate need, the professional politician will not show and the esteemed first responder will arrive maybe too late because of cuts to his/her department budgets because the federal government fails to subsidize local communities who have seen failing tax rolls – unemployment numbers far greater in reality than 9.5%.

Apparently government sees casinos and sponsoring gamblings in lottery games as a way of revenue generating schemes despite the overall negativity of such activity –

We are tired of much going on today locally and internationally and we see a nine year effort in Irag/Afghan and as baby boomers we better understand the need for a “Top Secret America” when it comes to espionage, cybersecurity, homeland security, etc. because we see Russia and the “KGB Putinites” and in Iran, the “Brutes of Tehran” and we see a Vatican motivated in its resurrrection of determination of affecting a German-led EU war machine boasting a new and effective forst responsen army with shiny new battle vessels saiing the waters off the Middle East poised to parallel Germany’s determination to become the Middle East broker whose only desire is to secure oil to lubricate its manufacturing machine!

The Shia will soon engage – the west unable with a lack of will to challenge Iran and its nuclear weapons just as the west failed back in ’38 and ’39 to stand up to the Germans and turned its cheek and only by the grace of God did the world overcome the ambitions of Hitler!

Sure we need clarity and transparency in the 21st century, however when polled around he table yesterady, many of whom are heros of this great nation fighting in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, an older group fo fellas, the outcome was that all of us support and wish Blessings to the folks at NSA, the DoD and all involved in the intel community even at the local level and at the NYPD for instance who have thwarted so many scenarios from becoming reality.

We do not trust you Mr. President or those across the aisle, however we do trust our military and those involved in activities which engage 1,931 companies participating in top secret work for our protection. In fact, overwhelmingly, we know the Russians and we know the Chinese and what they are capable of and thank God we do not underestimate anyone opposing our values, our way of Life, our creativenes, innovative and ambitious Will to muster our resources and thwart the efforts of so, so many seeking our demise!

Those that need to know across the board – globe – they are fully aware of what America’s might is comprised of, however it is not our capabilities depicted by very focused men and women committed to protecting our Republic, but the politicians who seek to undermine society and take control such as “Mr. Barney” and “Smug-smiled Pelosi” who tell us that they know better – they know nothing and certainly know nothing about what we pay for a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk –

Listen, despite tbe politicians and the ineptness by you Mr. President and all your cohorts despite party affiliation, spending and spending, incredible deficits locally, state-wide and nationally, bankrupted many, many times over and a world which will surely see a double dip recession and even depression and in parallel, a Middle East very close to evolving into a batllefield among many and history onec again repeating itself –

We understand the need for such ramp up in the intelligence community for we have awakened and hopefully shortly we will be pulling our nukes off the soil of Europe and placing them in new sites along the east coast as well as west coast. We need less meetings on the lawn at the White House with some sort of mentality that sitting across from a another with beer in hand will makes things ok – that rediculous act didn’t work and neither will it work if America sits back as its has believing that in this 21st century and all this technology, we need not such a commitment by the military and intelligence community to utilize our great resources and create and preserve our great Republic with innovative and intelligence gathering practices –

God Bless America snd God Bless everyone engaged in this intelligence community commitment – just be careful of our Rights for we deserve dignity though we understand that within parameters, you must all do to preserve Freedom for we are being enslaved from within and from those at Goldman Sachs and while you challenge the Russians, the Iranians and Chinese as well as others, it is Goldman Sachs we worry about and point out the clarity in the network with Goldman Sachs affiliations to government today and especially to this administration….

While we look to the Middle East and see much turbulent times ahead especially in East Jerusalem as well as in Saudi Arabia and the UAE an we must rely on the triple letter club and so many others whose mission is clear, we worry here about Goldman Sachs and the tax and tax mentality as more and more of us as baby boomers have less and less monies and many of us have had our pensions stripped of us – as the markets will again fail and the dow’s downward spirial will surely take whatever remaining and if anything less, the local state DOR will take without judicial due course estended to ten individual with individual rights thrown aside – just take a good look at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the “uniqueness” they boast when describing its agency who turns its cheek the other way even when the taxpayer is in the Right! These guys could care less and it is this mentality and the epic budget deficits in parallel with BP types which threaten us internally…

…and while we combat so many issues and ill-conceived perceptions from self-serving legislators and special interest groups, we do not need the Washington Post giving information to those seeking our demise from the outside as intelligence gathering among nations is a priority as China seeks to colonize on the moon by 2025 and new lazer weapons promise shock and awe high up in the skies –

America is playing catch-up and thank God we have awakened within our intel community for our politicians have become lustful in their prowess in power to dictate in condescending manner how we should live our Life and will tell us all how we shall think for it is evident that it is Goldman Sachs as a an impoverished populace that we will have to salute for our flag will depict the GS designation, a flag which will soon fly over the US Capital and here at the Governor of Massachusetts personal mansion as well as State House!

God Bless America!

Joe Citizen
aka Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA USA

Comment by 66

July 21, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

Seems like common sense continuity planning to me.

Identify operations critical to survival and recovery.
Talk with first responders, emergency managers, community organizations and utility providers.
Share your plans and encourage other businesses to set in motion their own continuity planning and offer to help others.

The alternative is top secret plans, you are on your own and fire first and ask questions later. The Post deserves credit for asking the difficult questions. I found the series helpful.

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August 17, 2010 @ 12:12 am

[…] Herrera-Flanigan summarized the size of the intelligence enterprise in her July 19th post. […]

Pingback by Washington Post: Fairs help job-seekers with security clearances connect with intelligence firms « Center for Intelligence News Study

August 24, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

[…] Alex Scrivener: Top Secret America – Washington Post Investigation Unveiled (hlswatch.com) […]

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