854,000 Americans have top-secret security clearance, part of a vast network of intelligence gathering. The new face of modern warfare.
The assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did more than knock off U.S. Public Enemy Number One. It formalized a new kind of warfare, where sovereignty is irrelevant, armies tangential, and decisions are secret. It is, in the words of counterinsurgency expert John Nagl, “an astounding change in the nature of warfare.”
This type of war requires a vast intelligence apparatus, which now constitutes almost a fourth arm of government that most Americans are almost completely unaware of. According to The Washington Post, this murky world includes 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies in more than 10,000 locations across the country, with a budget last year of at least $80.1 billion.