The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-bait series on the largess of the sprawling intelligence community came at an opportune moment, given the confirmation hearings this week for director of national intelligence nominee, retired Air Force Gen. James Clapper. But critics note that the series was short of news.
"I don't think it [the series] came as a surprise to anyone here at the fact of the growth in the intelligence bureaucracy in the past decade," 9-11 co-chair Lee Hamilton said Tuesday.
Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry also called into question some of the characterizations in the Post project, by veteran national security reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin, that was two years in the making. Thornberry, who has an FBI office, an Air Force base, and a nuclear weapons plant in his Texas district, says that each of the three facilities were listed in the Post's expansive database of secret government installations and that the three locations are less secret than the newspaper implies. Still, he said that while the case may be overstated, that the country "may be ready to cut the fat" when it comes to redundant or ineffective intelligence spending.
For his part, Clapper is just the latest senior official tapped for what had become known as the most thankless jobs in Washington. He'll have his work cut out for him, especially if he runs afoul of John Brennan, the White House's senior adviser on issues relating to the spy world. Thornberry described Brennan as a veteran political infighter who "overstepped his authority" in his battles with the last DNI, Admiral Dennis Blair, ousted by the president.