John Avlon for The Daily Beast: The Military-Industrial Complex Is Real, and It’s Bigger Than Ever

June 12th, 2013

1371068778785.cachedThe Daily Beast
by John Avlon
June 12, 2013

President Eisenhower was ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist for his famous remark about the “military-industry complex.” But Edward Snowden’s leaks have reminded us it’s real, it’s bigger and more wasteful than ever, and its bloat can even threaten our national security.

Ike was right.

In January 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned about the growth of the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address.

Ed Snowden, late of Booz Allen Hamilton, is just one small expression of its rise. The rest is evident throughout the Gilded Age of the metro Washington area, a boom time of corporate cronyism in the wake of 9/11 that has led to fat contracts amid the outsourcing of national security, complete with the proliferation of top security clearances to private contractors like Snowden.

As the iconic Washington Post investigation detailed, there 1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Throughout the D.C. area, 33 buildings containing 17 million square feet of office space have been built since 9/11—the equivalent of 22 Capitol buildings. But despite the growth of government national-security workers, some 500,000 private contractors also have top security clearances.

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