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October 31, 2007
Intelligence Budget Revealed
For the first time in more than a decade, the federal government was forced to reveal how much the CIA and 15 other related agencies spend on intelligence work. The figure released is $43.5 billion, about a 50% increase since 9/11.
A law passed last year after a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission required President Bush to give the public the total amount spent on intelligence activities. The measure was vehemently opposed by the Administration who made the arguement that revealing the intelligence budget figure would give our enemies an idea of our spending priorities.
Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said releasing the figure is likely to demonstrate that basic information about the nation's spending on its spy programs can be shared without harming national security. Speculation on how much was being spent on intelligence ranged from $50-70 billion year with the largest portion going to intelligence analysis, including information from satellites. While there will be no glimpse as to how that budget is divided up, some experts believe that intelligent guesses can now be made about how much is spent on administration, operations (covert activities), and coordination.
The information is probably of little use to adversaries trying to scrutinize U.S. intelligence activities, Aftergood said. His organization had unsuccessfully sued the government to force release of the figure.
"What it does tell you is how much we're spending on intelligence compared to other government functions such as defense and healthcare," Aftergood said. "Also, it makes it possible to openly debate the level of intelligence spending, something that has not been possible before in Congress."