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Does America Have a Security-Industrial Complex?

A new article in The Atlantic argues that the level of secrecy in Washington has become “absurd,” especially around intelligence and defense programs.

Millions of private contractors have been recruited to design and run the nation’s security infrastructure, but information about these programs is not available to the public. Politicians say they welcome a debate on issues of surveillance and security but then deny the public the necessary information for an informed discussion.

From the article:

The culture of secrecy that pervades Washington borders on the absurd. American officials say they cannot discuss "classified" U.S. counter-terrorism tactics that are well-known worldwide - from water-boarding to drone strikes to data mining.

The White House refuses to release the legal memo it used it used to justify the killing of an American citizen in a drone strike in Yemen. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court will not publish summaries of the rulings that made data mining legal. And [Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] will not declassify a redacted version of her committee's 6,000 page report on the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

From drone strikes to eavesdropping to torture, the American public is not allowed to know the rules and results of U.S. counterterrorism policies.

In order to maintain these secrets and expand intelligence gathering and defense programs, the government has turned to hiring millions of contractors while keeping the federal workforce at about the same level. This shadow government of private contractors now costs the government $300 billion a year.

Read more about the security-industrial complex at The Atlantic.

By: Andre Francisco
Former Online Producer, POGO

andre francisco At the time of publication, Andre Francisco was the Online Producer for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Open Government

Related Content: Contractor Accountability, Defense, Government Privatization, Government Secrecy

Authors: Andre Francisco

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