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

Dana Priest, William M. Arkin

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0316182206

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

After 9/11, the United States government embarked on an unprecedented effort to protect America. The result has been calamitous: after ten years of unparalleled spending and growth, the result is that a system put in place to keep America safe may in fact be putting us in even greater danger-but we don't know because it's all Top Secret.

In TOP SECRET AMERICA, award-winning journalists Dana Priest and William M. Arkin lift the curtain on this clandestine universe. From the companies and agencies keeping track of American citizens and the military commanders building America's first "top secret city" to a hidden army within the U.S. military more secret than the CIA, this new national security octopus has become a self-sustaining "Fourth Branch" of government. A tour de force of investigative journalism, TOP SECRET AMERICA presents a fascinating and disturbing account of government run amok and a war on terrorism gone wrong in a post-9/11.












In June 2010, a stone carver from Manassas, Virginia, chiseled another perfect star into a marble wall at CIA headquarters, one of twenty-two for agency workers killed in the global war initiated by the 2001 terrorist attacks. The intent of the memorial is to publicly honor the courage of those who died in the line of duty, but it also conceals a deeper story about government in the post-9/11 era: eight of the twenty-two, more than one-third, were not CIA officers at all. They were private contractors.

The government asked for the data to be delivered in four subgroups—Catholic churches, Protestant churches, mosques, and synagogues—with quarterly updates, according to the mapping contract. A young NorthCom intelligence officer acknowledged that some state officials were befuddled by the priority the federal government placed on religious institutions, but, as the officer explained, “It isn’t only first response that’s important. ” She added, “Our responsibility is also to look at the threat. ” The threat to religious institutions?

Assaults likely to result in large numbers of civilian casualties needed increasingly higher levels of approval. Creation of the EXORD had taken many months and dozens of meetings between the various, and jealously competitive, national security agencies. The CIA didn’t want JSOC encroaching on its turf; the State Department was worried about the ramifications to diplomatic relationships if these missions went awry or were somehow discovered and made public. But with Bush’s full support, Rumsfeld signed off and the other agencies relented.

They favor red meat and boiled potato restaurants near CIA headquarters, as well as Greek and Lebanese restaurants not far away. Many retire in the same northeastern coastal or western mountain communities. The NSA, with its historic work breaking the codes of foreign messages, employs the largest number of mathematicians in the world and is considered to have the most technically proficient people of any government agency. The NSA needs programmers, scientists, linguists, IT experts, and cryptologists.

For its part, the Department of Homeland Security asked for more air marshals, for more and better body scanners and more analysts, too, even though it can’t find nearly enough qualified people to fill its intelligence unit, and instead must resort to hiring more contractors. In Top Secret America, more is often the solution. By 2010, in the middle of the longest recession ever, the budget for intelligence had become 250 percent larger than it was on September 10, 2001, without anyone in government seriously trying to figure out where the overlaps and waste were.

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