WASHINGTON — Since the September 11 attacks, top-secret intelligence gathering by the government has grown so unwieldy and expensive that no one really knows what it cost and how many people are involved, The Washington Post reported Monday.
A two-year investigation by the newspaper uncovered what it termed a "Top Secret America" that's mostly hidden from public view and largely lacking in oversight.
In its first installment of a series of reports, the Post said there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working in counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence work in about 10,000 locations across the US.
Around 854,000 people — or nearly 1.5 times the number of people who live in Washington — have top-secret security clearance, the paper said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Post that he doesn't believe the bureaucracy of government and private intelligence has grown too large to manage, but it is sometimes hard to get precise information.
"Nine years after 9/11, it makes sense to sort of take a look at this and say, 'OK, we've built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?" he said.
"There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that — not just for the DNI, but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense — is a challenge."