Back in July, Freedom Outpost’s Suzanne Hamner mentioned the fact that National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden was the “gift that keeps on giving.” In follow up articles she demonstrated just that. Well, now there is a new revelation. Mr. Snowden, now living in Russia under asylum for one year, has now revealed a summary of the 2013 classified budget of the U.S. intelligence community.
The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses the money or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress.
The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.
The summary describes cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations. The Post is withholding some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods. Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.
After consulting with U.S. intelligence officials, the Washington Post chose to publish only a portion of pages from the 178-page document, and for the first time reveal to the American public and the enemies and allies of the United States, the US intelligence community’s spending priorities. According to WAPO they kept some information out of the report due to consultation with the Obama administration. Imagine that! Supposedly it was to protect U.S. intelligence sources and methods.
Among the surprises in the documents was the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) receives more money than the NSA: $14.7 billion for the CIA, which commands 28% of the budget, versus $10.8 billion for the NSA. The CIA has seen an increase of 56% in its budget since 2004.
Interesting enough, on a line marked “top secret” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote, “We are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic.”
While nothing was written that would elaborate on this “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities,” 21 percent of the intelligence budget, roughly $11 billion, is dedicated to the Consolidated Cryptologic Program that staffs 35,000 employees in the NSA and the armed forces.
The documents also show what Snowden had earlier alluding to concerning hacking foreign computers. The Post reports that the CIA and the NSA have “launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as ‘offensive cyber operations.’
“The United States has made a considerable investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as cyber-warfare,” said Clapper in a written response to the Post.
“Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter threats,” he said.
As part of a Washington Post report, the documents are shown in an interactive fashion on their website. You can view them here.
In a letter from July 1, 2013, Edward Snowden told Americans “the Obama administration is afraid of you.” He also has maintained that the Constitution marks government warrantless snooping as illegal. While one can understand secrecy in dealing with enemies, I continue to believe that Snowden was correct in exposing what has been taking place in the NSA. Government should not be able to hide illegal activity behind the phrase “national security,” but this is what they have been doing for decades.
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.