Monday, July 19, 2010

A hidden world, growing beyond control |

When Dwight Eisenhower left the White House in 1960, he warned of the growth of the military-industrial complex. But I doubt that even Eisenhower would have believed how our national security apparatus has mushroomed in the aftermath of 9/11.

This is unbelievable story published in the Washington Post. Here's an excerpt:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work...

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

Yesterday's story was the first of a series of stories that the Post will be running this week.

One problem is, of course, is that no government official - from the President on down - wants to cut spending on national security, which is such a sensitive political issue. And yet, as the article points out, it is hard to believe that such a massive effort is really making us safe.

It is also worth remembering stories like this when someone calls for more government regulation or intervention. No matter how good the intentions are, government programs are not always the answer.

A hidden world, growing beyond control |