Bring Out the Pulitzers!

This morning, the Washington Post published a report on its two-year investigation into a "top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 [which] has become so large, 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."

According to the WaPo, this top-secret world "amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight" and after nearly a decade of unprecedented and unchecked spending to fuel seemingly unlimited growth, "the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine."

The fact that there exists in the US a covert anti-terrorism arm of the government that is so vast it can't be coordinated, so disconnected it can't be effective, so lacking in oversight it stands to be easily exploited by the very people from whom it purports to protect the nation, and so flush with cash that there's no incentive to change any of the above, is terrifying.

Of course, it's also something the existence of which we've known since the first term of the Bush administration.

The WaPo, however, began its investigation into this shadowy nightmare only two years ago. Huh. Two years ago, you say? Like, right about just before Bush was to leave office at the end of his second term? Great timing.

Don't get me wrong: I'm glad this story is getting some (more) attention, because it is legitimately a breathtaking model of antidemocratic fuckery—and the oft-promised commitment to transparency that was a hallmark of Candidate Obama's campaign has not been fulfilled by President Obama, who was remarkably keen to adopt the fondness for opacity left behind in the Oval Office by his predecessor.

But seriously. This is shit about which I (and every other lefty political blogger) was writing in 2004—through the Patriot Act, through the Downing Street Memos, through FISA-breaching warrantless wiretapping programs, through Presidential Signing Statements, through National Security Letters, through torture, through extraordinary rendition, through the politicization of the CIA, through the outing of Valerie Plame, through unanswered questions about the laws governing mercenaries private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, through the mysterious disappearance of White House emails, through so many acres of knee-deep bullshit that the archives of this space and every space like it on the internet are full of posts talking about the building conspiracy and its inevitable consequences about which the WaPo is now writing with seriousness after spending years participating in the dismissal as hysterics and lunatics of the people connecting those dots to paint this picture back when it was a doodle, not a fucking mural the size of America.

Welcome back from your dereliction of duty, WaPo. What the fuck are we going to do about it now?

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