The Obama administration is bracing for the first in a series of Washington Post articles said to focus in unprecedented detail on the government's spending on intelligence contractors.
The intelligence community is warning that the article could blow the cover of contract companies doing top-secret work for the government. At the same time, a senior administration official acknowledged that the kind of wasteful spending expected to be spotlighted in the series is "troubling" and something the administration is trying to address.
"There will be examples of money being wasted in the series that seem egregious and we are just as offended as the readers by those examples," the official said. The official said some of the information in the story is "explainable," in that some "redundancy" is necessary in the intelligence community. But the official said the administration has been working to reduce "waste" and that "it's something we've been on top of."
Other sectors of the administration were on high alert over the piece. A source told Fox News that the series amounts to a "significant targeting document" in that it will apparently bring together unclassified information from the public domain in a single location, making it a one-stop shop for this level of detail. The official said "few intelligence groups have the assets and resources to pool" this kind of information.
This has led to warnings about how the information could be used. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent out a memo saying that "foreign intelligence services, terrorist organizations and criminal elements will have potential interest in this kind of information."
The State Department sent out an e-mail saying the series would include a "graphic representation pinpointing the location of firms conducting top secret work, describing the type of work they perform and identifying many facilities where such work is done."
Contractors play a huge role in the nation's intelligence work -- a role that has swelled since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Contractors handle more than half of the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence duties.