The Washington Post has an excellent series this week on the growth of the US intelligence community in the Post-9/11 world. I strongly recommend at least browsing the introductory page and taking a look at the interactive charts to get an idea of just how byzantine the United State's intelligence apparatus has become.
Top Secret America | washingtonpost.com
The article makes an number of observations about positive and negative developments over the past nine years. The only one of these that I disagree with at the moment is the authors' apparent unease over the growth of the National Security Agency. I see that expansion as a natural outcome of the ongoing information technology revolution. I know that even speaking of an information age became passé with the close of the 90s, but I do believe that that decade was only the beginning of an era that will likely prove to be as turbulent and transformative as the industrial age that preceded it. As the volume of information gathered, analyzed, or distributed electronically grows, it's only natural that the agency traditionally tasked with responsibility for both defense and offense in this ethereal realm should grow in size.
Many of the new organizational realities, technologies, and methods described in the series are a challenge to me as a writer who wants to tell stories about intelligence officers and military personnel. There are many implications to explore, and it will take time and research and looking at other sources to fully get my head around them.