$500 billion spent on intelligence, according to U.S. “black budget”

July 14, 2014 - 

The United States has spent more than US$500 billion on intelligence since 9/11, an outlay that U.S. officials say has succeeded in its main objective, preventing another catastrophic terrorist attack. This fiscal information, published in intelligent estimates colloquially known as the “black budget”, was revealed for the first time nearly a year ago, through whistle-blower disclosures made by Edward Snowden, which were published by the Washington Post.

According to the “black budget”, the United States spent US$80 billion on spy activities in 2010. That amount included US$53.1 billion on non-military intelligence programs. In 2010, the military also spent an additional US$27 billion on its intelligence apparatus. According to these government documents, published in 2013, the United States funded and pursued five surveillance objectives.

The U.S. spent US$20.1 billion to warn policy makers, military and civilian authorities of threats, such as economic instability, state failure, societal unrest and emergence of regional powers. $US17.2 billion was spent combating terrorism through monitoring and disrupting violent extremists and suspected terrorist groups that plot to inflict harm to the U.S., its interests and allies. $US6.7 billion was spent to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. spent US$4.3 billion to prevent cyber intrusions and US$3.8 billion to deter foreign espionage.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) received more than 68 percent of overall intelligent appropriations outlined in the “black budget”.

The CIA’s mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, disseminate foreign intelligence and conduct covert operations. The NSA’s mission is to protect the government’s information systems and intercept foreign signals intelligence information. The NRO responsibility is to design, build, and operate the nation’s signals and imagery reconnaissance satellites.

Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with US$14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the NSA, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community. The black budget noted that the CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.” The budget also reported that the NSA requested US$10.8 billion, while the NRO requested US$10.3 billion.

Other programs receiving funding under the black budget include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program (NGP) and the General Defense Intelligence Program.

The role of the NGP is to generate and provide imagery and map-based intelligence, which is used for national security, U.S. military operations, navigation and humanitarian aid efforts. The General Defense Intelligence Program provides assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities to policymakers and military commanders. The program also conducts human and technical intelligence collection, document and media management.

The NGP requested $4.9 billion, while the General Defense Intelligence Program requested $4.4 billion. According to budget data, the NGP budget has grown over 100 percent since 2004.

Intelligence spending by other departments include that of the U.S. Department of Justice, which requested US$3 billion to oversee foreign intelligence, counterintelligence and other national security activities to ensure compliance with constitutional and statutory directives. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence requested US$1.7 billion for its mission to oversee, manage and coordinate the efforts of all intelligence agencies, along with promoting coordination and collaboration. The Director of National Intelligence primarily advises the President and national and homeland security councils.

The report also quantified that as of 2013, there were 107,035 employees in the U.S. intelligence community. The CIA employed the most civilian full time employees with 21,459 out of a total of 83,675 total civilian employees. The NSA employed 64 percent of all military personnel engaged in intelligence with 14,950 full time employees out of 23,400 total military intelligence positions. In terms of full time contractors, the U.S. intelligence agencies employed nearly 22,000.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.