Top Secret America by the Washington Post causes intelligence row

Screenshot of the Top Secret America page

Screenshot of the Top Secret America page

On Monday, July 19, The Washington Post published a report concerning the state of the Intelligence Community, both public and private, in the U.S.  The report is titled Top Secret America, and it has created a huge stir. Intelligence heavyweights have started to take umbrage with some of the report’s findings. Among Top Secret America’s many claims is that the Intelligence Community, first receives the status of a proper noun and second is becoming rapidly disconnected, petty, inefficient and ineffective.

Top Secret America makes unflattering claims

The Washington Post investigation into the report Top Secret America was two years in the making. The number of new agencies, bureaus, and contractors working on intelligence gathering and analysis has exploded since September, 2001. Because the Intelligence Community relies on secrecy and non-transparency, the total cost of all these new agencies and contracts cannot be calculated. The report also claims that the explosively growing intelligence community is grossly inefficient and is ill-equipped to find consensus. The piece references an interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who lamented the barriers in the way of cooperation and focus in the intelligence apparatus.

Intelligence Community fires back

The Intelligence Community responded quickly after the publication of the report.  David Gompert, Director of Intelligence, issued a press release in which he stated that the report was not reflective of the Intelligence Community as a whole, and the intelligence field was constantly working on improving itself.

What the results of the report will be

It is hard to tell what effect the report will have. Part of the work that intelligence agencies and operatives do is that most of their victories are clandestine. If a spy operation is successful, no one will know about it until decades later, if at all. However, the U.S. Intelligence Community has had some spectacular failures. The Bay of Pigs invasion, WMDs that were never discovered in Iraq, etc. Last year, the Christmas bomber almost succeeded, and authorities had been tipped off about him. The Fort Hood shooter, a U.S. Army Major, had been communicating with anti-American groups. However public the failures may be, it would perhaps be better if we could see a victory to appreciate.


Top Secret America

Press Release from David C. Gompert (PDF)