INGTON An intelligence community created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is now so huge that no one knows whats going on, The Washington Post reported.
During its two-year investigation reported Monday, the Post said it discovered essentially a separate government - kept from the public eye and lacking thorough oversight - that enjoys unprecedented spending and growth and has become so monolithic that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
Some of the investigations findings include:
* About 1,271 government organisations and 1,931 private companies work on programmes related to counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people hold top-secret security clearances.
* In the Washington metro area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work have been or are being built since September 2001.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work. The Post cited as an example 51 federal organisations and military commands track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that not just for the DNI (director of national intelligence), but for any individuals, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defence is a challenge, Defence Secretary Robert Gates told the Post last week.
In the Defence Department, which houses more than two-thirds of the intelligence programmes, only a handful of senior officials, called Super Users, can know about all the departments activities. Two super users told the Post they cant keep up with the sensitive work.
Im not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything, one super user said.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines said he was shocked about what he learned when asked to review methods for tracking the Defence Departments most sensitive programmes.
Im not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these inter-agency and commercial activities, he said. The complexity of this system defies description.
The Posts investigation is based on government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social networking Internet sites, other records, and interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials and former officials.