WASHINGTON (AP) - Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11,

top-secret intelligence gathering by the government has grown so

unwieldy and expensive that no one really knows what it cost and

how many people are involved, The Washington Post reported Monday.

A two-year investigation by the newspaper uncovered what it

termed a "Top Secret America" that's mostly hidden from public

view and largely lacking in oversight.

In its first installment of a series of reports, the Post said

there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and more

than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland

security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S.

Some 854,000 people - or nearly 1 1/2 times the number of people

who live in Washington - have top-secret security clearance, the

paper said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Post that he doesn't

believe the massive bureaucracy of government and private

intelligence has grown too large to manage, but it is sometimes

hard to get precise information.

"Nine years after 9/11, it makes sense to sort of take a look

at this and say, 'OK, we've built tremendous capability, but do we

have more than we need?" he said.

The head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, said he knows that with the

growing budget deficits the level of spending on intelligence will

likely be reduced and he's at work on a five-year plan for the

agency.

The White House had been anticipating the Post report and said

before it was published that the Obama administration came into

office aware of the problems and is trying to fix them.