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

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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.

"Black budget" spending today is twice what it was in 2001, and it's 25 percent higher now than it was at the peak of the "global war on terror" in 2006, the Post reported. The newspaper says the spending points to an “espionage empire.”

US intelligence officials say those numbers are hardly excessive.

“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,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. responded 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.”

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