National Security Reporters React to 'Top Secret America'

The Washington Post investigation makes waves

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The Washington Post's in-depth report on the massive intelligence-industrial complex, two years in the making, is already making big waves in Washington, DC, only hours after going live. Check out our executive summary and read how the U.S. intelligence community braced for the story's impact. Here's what national security reporters, bloggers, and other interested parties are saying in reaction to the story.

  • This Goes Beyond Political Parties  Salon's Glenn Greenwald writes, "We chirp endlessly about the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Democrats and Republicans, but this is the Real U.S. Government:  functioning in total darkness, beyond elections and parties, so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization."
  • 'Potential for Abuse'  Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias writes, "You can’t possibly run an effective organization along these lines, and the idea that pouring even more hazily defined powers to surveil and torture people is going to improve things is daft. The potential for abuses in this system is tremendous, and the odds of overlooking whatever it is that’s important are overwhelming."
  • Could Prompt Much-Needed Intel Reform  Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey hopes, "the reality that we went the wrong direction five years ago in intelligence reform, and it’s costing us both money and security.  While that was utterly predictable, the exposure of the reality might finally prompt Congress to return to intel reform and demand real restructuring, streamlining, and bureaucratic reduction before it really gets too late."
  • ...Or Just More Bureaucracy  National security blogger John Little sighs, "In a perfect world this would spark productive discussion about how the intelligence community is resourced and managed. What we’ll get though is political grandstanding, conspiracy theories, and potentially another layer of bureaucracy. Of course, another other story could always blow up and shift the public’s attention before this one takes root. Lindsay Lohan, the DNI is counting on you."
  • Now We Know Who's 'Cashing In'  Wired's Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman write, "Figuring out exactly who’s cashing in on the post-9/11 boom in secret programs just got a whole lot easier. ... And the spigot — contained in congressional budgets that are either politically sacrosanct or entirely secret — doesn’t seem to be able to close." Shachtman and Ackerman explain how contractors over-inflate the cost of intelligence, footing taxpayers.
  • Actually, Redundancy Can Be Good  Foreign Policy's Dan Drezner gets contrarian. "Some redundancy is actually a good thing, particularly on an issue like counter-terrorism. ... by adding another bureaucracy, even a less competent one, the chances of an undetected threat getting through are cut [significantly]. That ain't nothing."
  • Has Business Overtaken Security?  Liberal blogger John Cole fumes, "The War on Terror, like the War on Drugs, is a growth area with unlimited potential, lots of new fiefdoms, and an endless supply of money. The mission and outcomes are secondary issues."
  • All of This Comes to a Head at Tomorrow's Hearing  National security blogger Marcy Wheeler points out that nominated Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's confirmation hearing is tomorrow. "The debate that has led up to it has covered whether or not we need a stronger DNI, whether or not GAO can audit intelligence programs, and whether more than 4 people should be briefed on major new intelligence programs. Every single one of the issues that has led to tomorrow’s confirmation hearing is an issue that goes to the heart of the problems identified in the WaPo piece: the ongoing lack of real value-added analysis to make sense of all the intelligence collected, the opacity and potential waste and fraud of the entire IIC, and the turf battles that contribute to that waste."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.