Top Secret America is a series of investigative articles published on the post-9/11 growth of the United States Intelligence Community.The report was first published in The Washington Post on July 19, 2010, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dana Priest and William Arkin.
The three-part series, which took nearly two years to research,was prepared with the assistance of more than a dozen journalists. It focuses on the expansion of secret intelligence departments within the government, and the outsourcing of services.
An online database, as well as the articles to be published, were made available to government officials several months prior to the publications of the report. Each data point was substantiated by at least two public records. The government was requested to advise of any specific concerns, but at that time, none were offered.
The Public Broadcasting System featured Priest and Arkin's work on Top Secret America in a September 6, 2011 broadcast of the news documentary series Frontline . videoThat same month, the book Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State was published by Little, Brown and Company.
Published July 19, 2010, this first installment focuses on the U.S. intelligence system's growth and redundancies. It questions its manageability, as it 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 report states that "An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances."
This segment, published on July 20, 2010, describes the widespread use by the U.S. of private contractors to fulfill essential intelligence functions, despite regulations prohibiting this. At present "close to 30 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies is contractors": 265,000 out of 854,000."So great is the government's appetite for private contractors with top-secret clearances that there are now more than 300 companies, often nicknamed 'body shops,' that specialize in finding candidates, often for a fee that approaches $50,000 a person."
Published on July 21, 2010, the third part provides accounts of individuals working within the field and focuses on the National Security Agency.
Hundreds of thousands of public records from government organizations and private-sector companies were consulted for this report, including 45 government organizations; these were broken down into 1,271 sub-units. Some 1,931 private companies were identified that engage in top-secret work for the government. For each company listed, employee data, revenue, and date of establishment were obtained from public filings, Dun & Bradstreet data, and original reporting.
The Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued a noticeto "industry partners" prior to the publication of the report reminding "cleared employees" of their "responsibility to protect classified information and relationships, and to abide by contractual agreements regarding non-publicity." The notice also states that:
"Employees should be reminded that they must neither confirm nor deny information contained in this, or any, media publication, and that the publication of this website does not constitute a change in any current ODNI classifications. They should also be reminded that if approached and asked to discuss their work by media or unauthorized people, they should report the interactions to their appropriate security officer."
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan stated on July 20, 2010, that redundancy within the U.S. intelligence community is a "well-known" problem. He told reporters:
"We've been fighting two wars since 9/11, and a lot of that growth in the intelligence community has come as a result of needed increases in intelligence collection and those types of activities to support two wars."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated:
"Well, look, I'm not going to get into some of the discussions that we had," Gibbs said. "Obviously there were some concerns. And I think the Post covered that there were some concerns, about certain data and the availability of some of that data."
Acting Director of National Intelligence, David C. Gompertabout the report:
"The reporting does not reflect the Intelligence Community we know. We accept that we operate in an environment that limits the amount of information we can share. However, the fact is, the men and women of the Intelligence Community have improved our operations, thwarted attacks, and are achieving untold successes every day."
Brendan Daly, Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson said:
"The Speaker is working with the White House and her Congressional colleagues to ensure that Congress has strong, effective oversight of the intelligence community."
Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.), ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee remarked:
"We can do more to keep our nation safe, and improving Congressional oversight and ensuring the top spy chief has the authority needed to streamline our intelligence community are the first steps."
The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems. The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.
A security clearance is a status granted to individuals allowing them access to classified information or to restricted areas, after completion of a thorough background check. The term "security clearance" is also sometimes used in private organizations that have a formal process to vet employees for access to sensitive information. A clearance by itself is normally not sufficient to gain access; the organization must also determine that the cleared individual needs to know specific information. No individual is supposed to be granted automatic access to classified information solely because of rank, position, or a security clearance.
The director of national intelligence (DNI) is a United States Government Cabinet-level official, required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to serve as head of the United States Intelligence Community and to direct and oversee the National Intelligence Program (NIP). The DNI also serves, upon invitation, as an advisor to the president of the United States and the executive offices of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council about intelligence matters related to national security. The DNI produces the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a top-secret document including intelligence from all the Intelligence Community agencies, given each morning to the President.
John Michael McConnell is a former vice admiral in the United States Navy. During his naval career he served as Director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996. His civilian career includes serving as the United States Director of National Intelligence from 20 February 2007 to 27 January 2009 during the Bush administration and seven days of the Obama administration. He is currently Vice Chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton.
The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a group of separate United States government intelligence agencies and subordinate organizations, that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments.
Raelynn Hillhouse is an American national security and Intelligence community analyst, former smuggler during the Cold War, spy novelist and health care executive.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is a United States government organization responsible for national and international counterterrorism efforts. It is based in Liberty Crossing, a modern complex near Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. NCTC advises the United States on terrorism.
Dana Louise Priest is an American journalist, writer and teacher. She has worked for nearly 30 years for the Washington Post and became the third John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2014. Before becoming a full-time investigative reporter at the Post, Priest specialized in intelligence reporting and wrote many articles on the U.S. "War on terror" and was the newspaper's Pentagon correspondent. In 2006 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting citing "her persistent, painstaking reports on secret "black site" prisons and other controversial features of the government's counter-terrorism campaign." The Washington Post won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, citing the work of reporters Priest and Anne Hull and photographer Michel du Cille "exposing mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital, evoking a national outcry and producing reforms by federal officials."
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As a principal member of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.
Intellipedia is an online system for collaborative data sharing used by the United States Intelligence Community (IC). It was established as a pilot project in late 2005 and formally announced in April 2006. Intellipedia consists of three wikis running on the separate JWICS (Intellipedia-TS), SIPRNet (Intellipedia-S), and DNI-U (Intellipedia-U) networks. The levels of classification allowed for information on the three wikis are Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information, Secret (S), and Sensitive But Unclassified information, respectively. Each of the wikis is used by individuals with appropriate clearances from the 16 agencies of the US intelligence community and other national-security related organizations, including Combatant Commands and other federal departments. The wikis are not open to the public.
William M. Arkin is an American political commentator, best-selling author, journalist, activist, blogger, and former United States Army soldier. He has previously served as a military affairs analyst for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
James Robert Clapper Jr. is a retired lieutenant general in the United States Air Force and is the former Director of National Intelligence. Clapper has held several key positions within the United States Intelligence Community. He served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from 1992 until 1995. He was the first director of defense intelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and simultaneously the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He served as the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from September 2001 until June 2006.
Christine Axsmith is an American computer security expert who was fired from BAE Systems, a CIA contractor, for posting on a top-secret internal government blog that "waterboarding is torture, and torture is wrong".
The United States Intelligence Community A-Space, or Analytic Space, is a project started in 2007 from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's (ODNI) Office of Analytic Transformation and Technology to develop a common collaborative workspace for all analysts from the USIC. It is accessible from common workstations and provides unprecedented access to interagency databases, a capability to search classified and unclassified sources simultaneously, web-based messaging, and collaboration tools. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the executive agent for building the first phase of A-Space. Initial operational capability was scheduled for December 2007. A-Space went live on the government's classified Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System 22 September 2008. A-Space is built on Jive Software's Clearspace application.
The United States intelligence budget comprises all the funding for the 16 agencies of the United States Intelligence Community. These agencies and other programs fit into one of the intelligence budget's two components, the National Intelligence Program (NIP) and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). As with other parts of the federal budget, the US intelligence budget runs according to the Fiscal year (FY), not the calendar year. Before government finances are spent on intelligence, the funds must first be authorized and appropriated by committees in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
Major General John M. Custer III was a United States Army officer. He was the Commanding General, United States Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca.
The mass surveillance industry is a multibillion-dollar industry which has undergone phenomenal growth since 2001. According to data provided by The Wall Street Journal, the retail market for surveillance tools has grown from "nearly zero" in 2001 to about US$5 billion in 2011. The size of the video surveillance market rose to US$13.5 billion in 2012, and is expected to reach US$39 billion by 2020.
The United States is widely considered to have the most extensive and sophisticated intelligence network of any nation in the world, with notable suborganizations including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, amongst others. It has conducted numerous espionage operations against foreign countries, including both allies and rivals. This includes industrial espionage and cyber espionage. Through a combination of hacking and secret court orders against American technology companies, the United States has also employed mass surveillance of ordinary individuals, both American and foreign nationals alike.
The Real Time Regional Gateway (RT-RG) is a data processing and data mining system introduced in 2007 by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and deployed during the American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is able to store, fuse, search and analyze data from numerous sources, from intercepted communications to open source information. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.