The United States’ post-9/11 intelligence gathering infrastructure has grown at such a rapid clip over the past decade that it’s impossible to determine its actual cost or effectiveness, according to a two-year investigation by The Washington Post.

 

The “Top Secret America” series claims that the U.S. security industry, flush with funds following the nation’s entanglement in the War on Terror, has become a sort of “fourth branch of government,” a massive — yet unregulated — network consisting of some 2,000 private companies and 1,270 government agencies.

 

“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that ... is a challenge,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the paper.