U.S. spent $4 billion more on spying in fiscal '08 than '07

October 29, 2008|By David Wood | David Wood,david.wood@baltsun.com

WASHINGTON -

The U.S. spent $4 billion more on spying in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 than during the previous year, the director of national intelligence said yesterday.

Spending on strategic intelligence by the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence organizations reached $47.5 billion in fiscal 2008, compared with the $43.5 billion appropriated for fiscal 2007.

The majority of the money supports electronic eavesdropping, wiretapping and the vast, high-speed data-mining operations of the National Security Agency, which has headquarters at Fort Meade. The budget also funds satellite photo reconnaissance and collection and analysis by agents of the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Treasury Department and others.

The budget appropriations, which were highly classified until 2007, do not include funds for tactical, or localized, military intelligence collection and analysis done by the armed forces and the Pentagon. Disclosure of the overall budget appropriation number was required by Congress in 2007 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

Before 2007, the budget figure was made public only twice: once after a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Federation of American Scientists revealed that the 1997 number was $26.6 billion, and again in 1998, when the $26.7 billion budget number was released voluntarily.

A brief statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, said further information about the budget will not be released. Such disclosures, the statement said, "could harm national security."

Strategic intelligence includes collection and analysis of data on the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea, on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, and on a broad range of such transnational issues as narcotics, international finance, conflict zones and military trends.

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