9/11 led to big government boom

19 July 2010 - 16:13 By Sapa-AFP

The September 11 terrorist attack on the United States have spawned a huge US government bureaucracy, the exact size of which is unknown even by its creators, the Washington Post reports.

The newspaper's investigation found that nine years after the tragedy, the bureaucracy has become "so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."

The September 11 attacks involved a series of coordinated suicide attacks by the Al-Qaeda network upon the United States.

A total of 19 Al-Qaeda militants hijacked four commercial passenger jets that day and intentionally crashed two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many more in the buildings.

A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia, and the fourth fell into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

In the wake of the attacks, the US government launched a military invasion of Afghanistan, an Al-Qaeda hub at that time, and took measures to bolster its counterterrorism readiness.

But according to the Post report, the effort has had some negative consequences.

The United States now has 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the country, the report said.

An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times the population of Washington, now hold top-secret security clearances and work for these bureaucracies, the Post said.

As many as 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001 in Washington and the surrounding area, the paper noted.

Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 US Capitol buildings.

The Post pointed out that the magnitude of this bureaucracy has resulted in redundancy and waste.

Fifty-one federal organizations and military commands located in 15 US cities now dedicate themselves to tracking the flow of money to and from terrorist networks, the report said.

Various spy agencies and organizations produce a whopping 50,000 intelligence reports each year, a volume so large that The Post said "many are routinely ignored."

The paper quotes US Defense Secretary Robert Gates as saying in an interview that "there has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that ... is a challenge."