Top Secret America, Ctd

Softwar from Moustache on Vimeo.

Thomas Mahnken defends our intelligence agencies:

Although beginning the story with 9/11 makes a certain amount of sense, in doing so Priest and Arkin miss an important dimension of the story. During the 1990s the size of the U.S. intelligence community declined significantly because both the Clinton administration and leaders in Congress believed that we were headed for a more peaceful world.  Indeed, the Clinton administration made trimming the size of the intelligence community a priority through its Reinventing Government initiative. Many intelligence analysts took offers of early retirement and became contractors -- contractors that the U.S. government hired back after 9/11. A good deal of the post-9/11 intelligence buildup thus involved trying to buy back capacity and capability that had been eliminated during the 1990s.

Er, yes, but something significant happened in the late 80s and early 90s that explains why the US envisioned "a more peaceful world." Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, was unimpressed by the series for different reasons:

We have a series that's long on numbers, short on analysis, unwieldy as hell, and offering technology as a panacea for understanding -- kind of like the intelligence community itself. If you want the real story, read my book.

Looking more generally at defense spending, the video above "attempts to represent the US military budget of $549 billion dollars as a heap of 88,548 Abram M1 tanks."