Understanding US National Intelligence: Analyzing Practices to Capture the Chimera

Anna Leander

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In July 2010, the Washington Post (WP) published the results of a project on “Top Secret America” on which twenty investigative journalists had been working for two years. The project drew attention to the change and growth in National Intelligence following 9/11 (Washington Post 2010a). The initial idea had been to work on intelligence generally, but given that this proved overwhelming, the team narrowed down to focus only on intelligence qualified as “top secret.” Even so, the growth in this intelligence activity is remarkable. This public is returning, or in this case expanding at an impressive speed confirming the general contention of this volume. Between 2001 and 2010 the budget had increased by 250 percent, reaching $75 billion (the GDP of the Czech Republic). Thirty-three building complexes for top secret work had been or were under construction in the Washington area; 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies were working on programs, while over 850,000 Americans had top secret clearances. The project built up a searchable database on the basis of “hundreds of interviews” combined with the scrutiny of “innumerable publicly available documents” (Washington Post 2010c). This has proved to be a gold mine of information available from the project website (Washington Post 2010a).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Return of the Public in Global Governance
EditorsJacqueline Best, Alexandra Gheciu
Number of pages24
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print)9781107052956, 9781107664418
ISBN (Electronic)9781107281837
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • International relations
  • Political sociology
  • International organisations

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