“* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.”
This is from “Top Secret America,” a Washington Post project done by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin in 2010. Although out of date, the website for this is still up and may have the best information we have.
If, in 2010, 854,000 people held top secret clearances, even if one allows for many of them never having any “need to know” anything at that level, I wonder how many other “Snowdens” at various levels of the government who do have a “need to know” have shared the secrets entrusted to them with others whose need is much less than the people of the United States. If only 10%, a percentage I deliberately chose to be low, have a “need to know,” that is 85,400 in 2010. If 1% of those, a number again chosen to be low, i.e. a low percentage of a low percentage, that would be 854 people in 2010.
What have we learned from all the Snowden coverage about others who may not be sharing information with the public but may be sharing it with others whose interests may not coincide with what we sometimes call “the public’s right to know?”