Commentary: National security — too many agencies, contractors without strong central command

Reading The Washington Post's "Top Secret America" series, the numbers grab you first:

■ Some 854,000 people, including an estimated 265,000 contractors from for-profit private companies, cleared for top-secret information

■ Intelligence reports spewing out at a rate of 50,000 a year

■ A list of code names for the Pentagon's highly secretive special access programs that runs to 300 pages, with the intelligence community having hundreds more of its own SAPs (hardly a confidence-building acronym)

■ 263 organizations that have been created or reorganized in response to 9/11.

■ A $75 billion annual budget for intelligence work that we know about (Who knows how much more is spent on off-the-books programs?)

■ 51 separate agencies that track the flow of money to terrorist organizations around the world.

Only after looking over your shoulder to see how many folks in trench coats are following you do you start to wonder, who's making sure everyone's reading from the same user's manual in putting this enormous amount of money, manpower and resources to work keeping Americans safe from further terrorist attacks?

What the Post series tells us is: no one.

Not the director of national intelligence, even though that office was created in 2004 with the stated intent of being the big boss person of the intelligence community. It seems the director's title didn't come with the legal or budgetary authority to do the job. Funny how Congress plays these little jokes from time to time.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.