The Washington Post deserves a Pulitzer Prize for its investigative story on “Top Secret America,” a two-year probe that exposes the secret national intelligence network the Federal Government built after 9/11.
It published its first story on Monday and plans on revealing the rest of its series throughout the week, which you can read on its website.
Part 1 sheds light on a national security system so large and complex, not even the President can control every agency involved. An estimated 845,000 people (1.5 times the population of Washington D.C.) have “top-secret security access” to the system. Only a select few people called Super Users in the Defense Department even have the ability to know every department’s activities. But as one Super User said, the system is so enormous and complex, “I’m never going to live long enough to be briefed on everything.”
After being put in charge of reviewing the most secret programs, Retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines – who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq – told the Post that no authority exists with the ability to manage this system.
“I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities,” he said in an interview. “The complexity of this system defies description.”
The Washington Post concludes that the United States now has four branches of government: The President, Congress, The Supreme Court… and an uncontrollable network of secret government agencies and private military contractors with access to unlimited, undisclosed funding.
That was a brief description of how it introduced its three-part series. According to the Post, Tuesday’s article will explain how much the country depends on private military contractors. Wednesday’s article will portray an example of a Top Secret American community. And the newspaper features a comprehensive database that reveals private companies involved, locations of government agencies, secret connections and more information than anyone could ever ask for on the topic.
I implore everyone to visit the Washington Post’s website and check it out, because this investigative journalism is exactly the way journalism should be.