A two-year investigation by a major U.S. newspaper alleges that the top-secret intelligence gathering put in place since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The Washington Post, which published the first of a three-part series on Monday, says the intelligence bureaucracy has become "so unwieldy and so secretive" that no one knows how much it costs or how many agencies do the same work.
The Post's investigation discovered that there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence.
The newspaper says a retired Army general (John R. Vines) was asked to review the Defense Department's most sensitive programs. He concluded that it was impossible to tell whether the United States is safer because of all the spending and all the activities of the various agencies.
In response to the report, a White House spokesman simply said it is important to have the necessary capabilities while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not wasted.
A Defense Department spokesman (Col. David Lapan) acknowledged that there are some redundancies within the intelligence community. But the acting Director of National Intelligence (David Gompert) said U.S. agents have thwarted attacks and are "achieving untold successes every day."