5/23/12 - counterterrorism and bureaucracy

In today's excerpt - in the wake of 9/11, an enormous number of departments and organizations have been created or enlarged to better combat terrorism. The result has been an unprecedented expansion of both secrecy and bureaucracy in American government -- over 850,000 people now have top secret security clearance and more than twelve hundred top secret government organizations exist to help find and capture terrorists:

"William Arkin and [Dana Priest] wanted to see if [they] could calculate the growth in agencies after 9/11 and then count how many were doing the same work as each other and/or preexisting agencies. The results were stunning.

"Looking at only government organizations working at the top secret level on counter-terrorism and intelligence, Arkin counted twenty-one new organizations created in just the last three months of 2001, among them the Office of Homeland Security and the FBI's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force. In 2002, thirty-four more organizations were created. Some tracked weapons of mass destruc­tion, others joined the cyberwar and collected threat tips. Still others coordinated counterterrorism among different agencies, attempting to tame the growing information load. Those were followed the next year by thirty-nine new organizations, from the formidable Department of Homeland Security to Deep Red, a small naval intel­ligence cell working on the most difficult terrorism problems.

"In 2004, yet another thirty organizations were created or redi­rected toward the terrorism mission. That was followed by thirty-four more the next year and twenty-seven more the year after that; twenty-four or more each were added in 2007, 2008, and 2009. After two years of investigating, Arkin had come up with a jaw-dropping 1,074 federal government organizations and nearly two thousand private companies involved with programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence in at least 17,000 locations across the United States -- all of them working at the top secret classification level.

"With more work, he discovered that 263 of these organizations had been established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. But the biggest growth had come within the many agencies and large cor­porations that had existed before the attacks and had since inflated to historic proportions. For example, the Pentagon's large Defense Intelligence Agency, which collects and analyzes defense-related intelligence from countries around the world, had grown from 7,500 employees in 2002 to 16,500 at the end of 2010, DIA officials told me. Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces -- 'joint' because they included representatives from law enforcement, the military, intelligence, and the private sector -- ballooned to 106 total, with over 5,000 agents and analysts involved daily. ...

"Dueling organizations have fought over who will lead in securing U.S. computer networks, who should supervise and launch offensive cyberwarfare -- which includes disrupting enemy websites, attacking enemy financial and electrical systems, and planting deceptive information on networks -- and who should be responsible for tracking spies, hackers, and other intruders. ...

"Of all the top secret units fighting terrorism after 9/11, [a separate organization, the Joint Special Operations Command] is the single organization that has killed and captured more al-Qaeda members around the world and destroyed more of their training camps and safe houses than the rest of the U.S. government forces combined. [JSOC also killed Bin Laden through its Navy SEAL Team 6]. And although it greatly benefited from the technology produced by [the resources within the Department of Defense], the secret to its success has been otherwise escaping the behemoth created in response to the 9/11 attacks."


Dana Priest and William M. Arkin


Top Secret America: The Rise of the new American Security State


Hachette Book Group


Copyright 2011 by Dana Priest and William Arkin


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