July 21, 2010 at 03:45 PM EDT

This week, The Washington Post has been publishing a long, enthralling, frightening piece on the vast number of intelligence-gathering systems that have sprung up since 9/11, much of the gathering done by independent businesses. A big part of the newspaper’s story is that what’s really needed is one clearing-house organization that would sift through all the data to discern the proper patterns and clues, and thus help prevent future terrorist attacks with greater speed and accuracy.

Does this sound familiar to anyone who watched Rubicon when AMC premiered its pilot episode last month? It stars James Badge Dale, the soulful soldier from The Pacific, as a brilliant data analyst for an organization called A.P.I., American Policy Institute — precisely the kind of real-life data-analysis group Washington Post writers Dana Priest and William M. Arkin say exists in near-total secrecy around the country.

While the Post‘s investigative series is extremely important as current news, I can’t help but wonder whether AMC is gnashing its corporate teeth this week, thinking, “Damn! If only this story had broken the week we premiere!”

Rubicon starts up on Aug. 1; I’ve seen the first four episodes, and it is terrific television. I can imagine the show’s producers have spent a lot of time this week reading The Washington Post, comparing their extensive research into government and private-business intelligence-gathering, and possibly picking up future plot-points.

Rubicon, to judge from what the Post says, has a lot of it right already, even down to the fact that the brainy data-sifters tend to be in the 20s and 30s, over-worked and under-paid. Read the Post‘s series; then get ready for a really good TV show.

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