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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Giant Mess Called 'Security'

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.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

* 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.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Here's an idea. If politicians are truly sincere about cutting spending this might be a good place to start. It's not going to happen. The first politician to suggest it will also be the first to be attacked for being 'soft on security for even suggesting it.'

Instead, in a misguided attempt to impose 'fiscal sanity', more and more unemployment benefits will be cut, more teachers will be laid off while the security trundles along like a drunk elephant. Since 9/11 263 separate government security organizations have been formed. There is no oversight and no cost controls.

Yesterday on the Sunday talk shows, a couple of GOP Senators were totally clueless when asked where they would cut Federal expenses. They probably don't read the Washington Post and the cable news media will continue to cover whether the Tea Party is racist or not.

The full article is definitely worth reading.

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