Washington Post stirs debate over spies

Monday, July 19, saw the release of an investigative report by The Washington Post which concerns the health of the intelligence services of the US Government. The report is titled Top Secret America, and it has created a huge stir. Heavies in the intelligence world have already began to take issue with its findings. The Intelligence Community, which apparently is a proper noun, is painted in a fairly negative light by Top Secret America. 

Top Secret America makes unflattering claims

The Washington Post spent two years compiling Top Secret America. The amount of agencies, bureaus and contractors working on intelligence has grown exponentially since September 2001. The nature of the work also requires the total cost and activities will never be known. The report also questions the intelligence business and it's ability to create a consensus, focus on objectives, or even cooperate among themselves. The piece references an interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who lamented the barriers in the way of cooperation and focus in the intelligence apparatus.

The Intelligence field comes back

There was a response from the intelligence business almost right away. Director of National Intelligence David Gompert issued a press release blasting the report for not being truly representative of the work the intelligence field does and that they were constantly working on improving themselves.

The results of the report

It is hard to tell what effect the report can have. The nature of the intelligence business is that it is clandestine. If a spy operation is successful, no one will know about it until decades later, if at all. However, the U.S. Intelligence Community has had some spectacular failures. The Bay of Pigs, WMDs in Iraq, for example. The Christmas bomber nearly pulled his plot off, and authorities were tipped off about him. The Fort Hood shooter, a U.S. Army Major, had been communicating with anti-American groups. However public the failures may be, it would perhaps be better if we could see a victory to appreciate.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/ (PDF)