2010 July 19

Washington Post Begins “Top Secret America” Series


The Washington Post on this day began publishing a three-part series of articles on “Top Secret America,” by Dana Priest and William Arkin, arguably the first comprehensive investigation of the entire national security apparatus in the United States. The articles were later published as a book, Top Secret America.

The principal findings, which stunned many political observers, included: the number of people employed in the national security industry with “top secret” clearances was 854,000 — almost 30 percent of those people worked for contractors rather than the federal government itself, involving almost 2,000 private companies. The estimated cost was $75 billion, two and a half times what it was the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001.

The revelations based on the National Security Agency (NSA) documents stolen and leaked by Edward Snowden provided a deeper look into one, but only one, component of the national security industry. See the first stories based on the Snowden documents on June 5, 2013.

Read the book-length version: Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America (2011)

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