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Leaked 'black budget': Mixed views on damage to US intel operations

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Some experts immediately denounced the leak as irresponsible and damaging to US national security. Others said much of the data that were released should have been public all along, and they questioned the integrity of the US classification system and suggested that the leaked information shows that US intelligence services need more accountability to the public.

“We want to be a more open society, and this leak shows that the general level of secrecy is set too high,” says James Lewis, a senior fellow and the director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We have to rethink how we get more information on these programs before the public for them to think about and debate, so that we have better policy decisions.”

The document reveals that the US spent $52.6 billion in fiscal year 2013 across 16 spy agencies within the US intelligence community. The lion’s share – about 68 percent – goes to three agencies: the CIA ($14.7 billion), the NSA ($10.8 billion), and the National Reconnaissance Office that runs America’s spy satellites ($10.3 billion).

By program category, 39 percent of overall "black budget" spending went to efforts to warn the president and US leaders of dangerous events emerging globally; 33 percent to fight terrorism; 13 percent to counter weapons proliferation; 8 percent to enhance cybersecurity, and 7 percent to stop foreign spies.

The budget also identifies “gaps,” or blind spots, in the effectiveness of US intelligence programs. Some progress was made in 2011, when the budget assessment said intelligence agencies "made at least 'moderate progress' on 38 of their 50 top counterterrorism gaps,” the Post reported. Gaps include Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons during transport, and China’s next-generation fighter aircraft.

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