Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A DC jobs program

So I guess we can say we do have a bipartisan jobs program out of our government:
  • 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.
  • ...at least 1,700 federal employees and 1,200 private contractors work at Liberty Crossing, the nickname for the two headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its National Counterterrorism Center. The two share a police force, a canine unit and thousands of parking spaces.
  • The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, for example, has gone from 7,500 employees in 2002 to 16,500 today. The budget of the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, doubled. Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces became 106.
  • Not far from the Dulles Toll Road, the CIA has expanded into two buildings that will increase the agency's office space by one-third. To the south, Springfield is becoming home to the new $1.8 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters, which will be the fourth-largest federal building in the area and home to 8,500 employees. Economic stimulus money is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for this kind of federal construction across the region.
  • More building, more expansion of offices continues across the country. A $1.7 billion NSA data-processing center will be under construction soon near Salt Lake City. In Tampa, the U.S. Central Command’s new 270,000-square-foot intelligence office will be matched next year by an equally large headquarters building, and then, the year after that, by a 51,000-square-foot office just for its special operations section. Just north of Charlottesville, the new Joint-Use Intelligence Analysis Facility will consolidate 1,000 defense intelligence analysts on a secure campus.
All these items are direct from the Washington Post's blockbuster report: Top Secret America. The whole thing is worth reading.

Unfortunately, none of this actually makes us any safer, since, according to investigative reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin, its sheer volume defies useful understanding, coordination and effective action. The Christmas underpants bomber showed up at 16 points in the chain of information lost somewhere in there, but it took an alert civilian fellow passenger to stop the guy.

I sure hope Paul Krugman is right when he says it doesn't much matter what the government spends money on, that pure waste is as good as a stimulus as productive investment in our present dire economic condition.

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