Synopses & Reviews
After 9/11, the United States government embarked on an unprecedented effort to protect America. The result has been calamitous: after ten years of unparalleled spending and growth, the result is that a system put in place to keep America safe may in fact be putting us in even greater danger-but we don't know because it's all Top Secret.
In TOP SECRET AMERICA, award-winning journalists Dana Priest and William M. Arkin lift the curtain on this clandestine universe. From the companies and agencies keeping track of American citizens and the military commanders building America's first "top secret city" to a hidden army within the U.S. military more secret than the CIA, this new national security octopus has become a self-sustaining "Fourth Branch" of government. A tour de force of investigative journalism, TOP SECRET AMERICA presents a fascinating and disturbing account of government run amok and a war on terrorism gone wrong in a post-9/11.
"Priest and Arkin, columnists for the Washington Post and other media outlets, won the 2010 George Polk Award for their exposÃ© of the surveillance state. Here, they blow the whistle on how, since 9/11 and the adoption of the Patriot Act, the government and its contractors use classification and security screens to conceal expenditures that have failed to enhance national security. Volumes of information defy efforts to be processed or analyzed as layers of bureaucratic intermediaries dilute command and control. For instance, Northcom (Norad's re-placement) has no command over other agencies while former Defense Secretary Gates refused to lead the new National Intelligence Directorate because the position had no real power. Furthermore, the authors contrast the disorganization of stateside security with methods employed by General Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan where, for example, social networks generated cell phone user data to provide target lists for Exord special teams. Overall, this is an important book that should receive greater attention. (Sept.) Agency: Ross Youn" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"One of the many strengths of Top Secret America is that Priest and Arkin take nothing for granted. They ask basic, even faux- naïve questions about the purpose, accountability, and effectiveness of the acronym soup of covert programs, companies, and Pentagon commands created or expanded after September 11. Their analysis is neither naïve about the threat posed by al-Qaeda and similar groups, nor credulous about the generals, spies, and bureaucrats who have so dramatically expanded the country's defenses in response to September 11."--Steve Coll, New York Review of Books
"Priest and Arkin fully flesh out how the Byzantine security maze actually works, breaking down its components....The authors' arguments are compelling."--Lydia DePillis, Washington City Paper
"Despite the sobering subject matter, Top Secret America makes for lively reading....[and is] full of the authors' remarkable insights, anecdotes and encounters."--Stephen Aftergood, The Secrecy Blog of the Federation of American Scientists
"This is an invaluable book, a breathtaking investigative account of America's vast new secret world...it offers an indispensable guide to anyone who worries about the explosive growth of what the authors call America's terrorism-industrial complex since September 11th....Priest and Arkin explain better than Congress ever has the staggering waste and ineptitude that inevitably has followed."--Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times
"The book is far more ambitious than was the [Washington Post] series...and makes the team's investigation available in detail to those of us who live beyond the Beltway....Since Priest and Arkin themselves lack security clearances, part of the interest of their book is how they acquired so much secret information."--Richard Rhodes, The Washington Post
"Priest and Arkin blow the whistle on how, since 9/11 and the adoption of the Patriot Act, the government and its contractors use classification and security screens to conceal expenditures that have failed to enhance national security...This is an important book."--Publishers Weekly
The top-secret world that the government created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become so enormous, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or exactly how many agencies duplicate work being done elsewhere. The result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe may be putting us in greater danger. In TOP SECRET AMERICA, award-winning reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin uncover the enormous size, shape, mission, and consequences of this invisible universe of over 1,300 government facilities in every state in America; nearly 2,000 outside companies used as contractors; and more than 850,000 people granted "Top Secret" security clearance.
A landmark exposé of a new, secret "Fourth Branch" of American government, TOP SECRET AMERICA is a tour de force of investigative reporting-and a book sure to spark national and international alarm.
About the Author
Dana Priest is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post
. She has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for public service for "The Other Walter Reed" and the 2006 Pulitzer for beat reporting for her work on CIA secret prisons and counterterrorism operations overseas. She is the author of The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military
William M. Arkin has been a columnist and reporter with The Washington Post since 1998. He has worked on the subject of government secrecy and national security affairs for more than 30 years. He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books about the U.S. military and national security.