• Welcome to the PopMalt Forums! Whether you're new to forums or a veteran, welcome to our humble home on the web! We're a 20-year old forum community with thousands of discussions on entertainment, lifestyle, leisure, and more.

    Our rules are simple. Be nice and don't spam. Registration is free, so what are you waiting for? Join today!.

Top Secret America, or, Threat Level: WTF!?

qweerblue

Registered Member
I remember when I first read the text of President Eisenhower's 1961 farewell speech--the infamous "Military-Industrial Complex" speech--and how stunned I was at the prescience of Eisenhower's words:

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

The whole speech is a beaut, to tell the truth, but that passage has always left me particularly moved and agitated, because in my estimation, we didn't heed this warning, and much of what Eisenhower spoke of has come to pass.

Sometime last year, when I stumbled across Washington Post project, "Top Secret America", Eisenhower's words came back to me in full force. On the long laundry list of things that upset me about my country, near the top is my absolute horror at the US's national security and intelligence system--the scope of its power and authority; the chaotic, disordered, redundant mess of agencies that comprise this system; its often Key-Stone-Kop-ish, buffoonish behavior; and the enormous stock of resources, both human and monetary, that this Frankenstein devours.

I know, I know--I should tell you how I really feel, right? ;)

So, anyway, this Top Secret America (TSA) project has just blown my mind, and I'm wondering how the rest of you feel about some of what I've talked about--(1) Eisenhower's speech and whether or not what he warned of has come to pass in any way, and (2)the US's national security and intelligence system and whether or not it is in dire need of some kind of major reigning in and overhaul.

Beyond those points, when I think of "Big Government" and big spending, the US's security/intelligence system definitely comes to mind; from reading the articles and looking at the graphics at the TSA website, here are some of the things I've found out:


  • About 4000 federal, state and local governmental agencies and private companies work on programs related to counter-terrorism, all spread out over about 10,000 sites across the US.


  • Almost 900,000 people have top-secret security clearance, 1/3 of them contractors


  • There is rampant redundancy among the security/intelligence agencies; for example, 51 different agencies track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks


  • 50,000 intelligence reports are published every year--again, with great redundancy and also in such volume, that many are ignored anyway


One person who has worked within, examined, and analyzed the proliferation of the US's security/intelligence system says this about it:

"I'm not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility, or a process in place to coordinate all these inter-agency and commercial activities. The complexity of this system defies description."
(Retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, former commander of 145,000 troops in Iraq)

And that opinion seems to be echoed, over and over, with some even referring to this vast complex of governmental and private agencies as a sort of fourth branch of the government, but protected from public scrutiny, with no real oversight or transparency.

Finally, estimating the costs of all of these agencies and activities is next-to-impossible, though it is easily a hundred billion dollars each year, and that's not counting the $50 billion spent each year on Homeland Security or the $50 billion the State Department spends OR the military budget itself ... Oh, my word. I just found a link that says that the entire US security budget is $1.2 trillion a year.

My head is on fire.

So, whilst I douse my flaming noggin, if you're interested, check out the links to the Top Secret America project website; watch the video intro and the just have fun exploring the site--there is so much there, and I think it's set up really well and is easy to navigate.

Top Secret America | washingtonpost.com

A hidden world, growing beyond control | washingtonpost.com

And then let's talk!
 
Top