Following the first installment of a two-year investigative report published today by the Washington Post, Acting Director of National Intelligence David C. Gompert released a statement that declared that the reports do not accurately depict the Intelligence Community.
The report, titled “Top Secret America”, investigated the growth of U.S. intelligence services since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to its findings, the government “has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.”
However, Gompert released a statement defending the size and depth of the Intelligence Community’s efforts.
“In recent years, we have reformed the IC in ways that have improved the quality, quantity, regularity, and speed of our support to policymakers, warfighters, and homeland defenders, and we will continue our reform efforts,” the head of National Intelligence said. “We are mindful of the size of our contractor ranks, but greatly value the critical flexibility and specialized skills they contribute to our mission.”
The investigation looked into government documents, property records, job descriptions and interviews with officials since the 9/11 attacks. The Washington Post’s report revealed a number of supposed redundancies and wastes within the government intelligence efforts.
According to the article, “51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks,” and “50,000 intelligence reports” are released each year, a number explained as too large for officials to accurately scrutinize.
The article also used a recent interview with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to back the report. It explained that Gates recently told reporters that precise data is sometimes difficult to obtain due to the size of the Intelligence Community. However, he also stated that he believes the system has not been overgrown.
“Nine years after 9/11, it makes sense to sort of take a look at this and say, ‘OK, we’ve built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?” he said.
But in Gompert’s explanation, the article does not reflect his opinion of the system.
“However, the fact is, the men and women of the Intelligence Community have improved our operations, thwarted attacks, and are achieving untold successes every day,” he said.
“We will continue to scrutinize our own operations, seek ways to improve and adapt, and work with Congress on its crucial oversight and reform efforts,” said Gompert. “We can always do better, and we will. And the importance of our mission and our commitment to keeping America safe will remain steadfast, whether they are reflected in the day’s news or not.”
The Washington Post plans to release the second and third installments of the series this week. Tuesday’s publication will attempt to dissect the government’s relationship with private contractors and Wednesday’s will focus on their findings on the economic impact of the Top Secret work within the community around the National Security Agency.