SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – National intelligence has been a major point of contention ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks hit the United States as many wonder exactly how many people are working on national security and how safe we are.

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who covers national security for the paper, takes a look at the top-secret the government created in response to the terrorist attacks in a project and book called “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.”

KCBS Interviews Washington Post Reporter Dana Priest:

“We decided 10 years after 9/11 that it would be a good time to go and look at how big has this become, what are some of its characteristics, what works and what really is wasting money,” Priest said.

Among the findings that Priest and her colleague William Arkin found: more than 1,200 government organizations and almost 2,000 private companies work on programs related to counter terrorism and an estimated 854,000 people hold top-secret security clearance.

“We are definitely safer. But I would say that it’s not because of this huge, monstrous bureaucracy that we created. We’re safer because the Al Qaeda is almost decimated,” she said.

Priest said that it is not only the large organizations doing all the dirty work. “Some relatively small organizations within this large behemoth have really been responsible for finding terrorists and terrorist plots,” she said.

The investigation was based on government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social networking Web sites and hundreds of interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials.

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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