AirTalk for July 20, 2010

Top Secret America: who runs the U.S. intelligence community?

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PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in Fort Mead, Maryland in this January 25, 2006 file photo

On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee holds confirmation hearings for James Clapper, tapped to be the new Director of National Intelligence. While the President’s pick for an intelligence chief might ordinarily make a speedy confirmation, Clapper steps into a storm of speculation about the size and structure of classified activity in the United States.

The Washington Post launched the first part of its series Top Secret America, Monday, a two year investigation into the growth of the U.S. intelligence community since 9/11. The project’s trove of data and maps details how many people have top secret clearance (858,000), where the government and its contractors operate (nationwide), and the pervasive redundancy in counterterrorism activities between agencies. Does the Post investigation paint an accurate portrait? Does transparency advance U.S. interests and keep government accountable to taxpayers? Or will the Post’s revelations harm ongoing counterterrorism efforts?

Guests:


William Arkin, co-author of investigative series Top Secret America appearing this week in the Washington Post; National Security reporter, Washington Post

Jon Lindsay, a Naval intelligence officer for 12 years, currently doing a PhD at MIT in International Security

Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the CATO Institute


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