July 19, 2010
In the cloak and dagger world of intelligence, the assumption fed by countless spy novels and TV dramas is that top-secret security clearance is restricted to an elite few known only by codes such as M and C. Not so in today’s America.
A new survey of the intelligence network created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks estimates that some 854,000 people have been given high-level clearance, making James Bond look decidedly everyday.
The estimate comes from the Washington Post which has dedicated a team of reporters to a two-year project on what it calls “Top Secret America ”
In addition to the army of individuals, it has identified some 1,271 government bodies and 1,931 private contractors working on counter-terrorism.
The creation of this extraordinary spider’s-web of intrigue can be dated back to 16 September 2001, a week after the attacks, when George Bush announced from Camp David the launch of what he called a “war on terror”. The war would take a while, he warned, and the American people would have to be patient, but he was determined.