The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.
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.
Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:
- Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency.
- The CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing “offensive cyber operations.”
- In words, deeds and dollars, intelligence agencies remain fixed on terrorism as the gravest threat to national security, which is listed first among five “mission objectives.” Counterterrorism programs employ one in four members of the intelligence workforce and account for one-third of the intelligence program’s spending.
According to the spending blueprint for fiscal 2013, the NSA taps into “high volume circuit and packet-switched networks. The program was expected to cost $278 million in the current fiscal year, down nearly one-third from its peak of $394 million in 2011.
Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.
According to the Washington Post, the only meaningful frame of reference came in 1994, when a congressional subcommittee inadvertently published a partial breakdown of the National Intelligence Program. At the time, the CIA accounted for just $4.8 billion of a budget that totaled $43.4 billion in 2012 dollars.
The NSA and the NRO commanded far larger shares of U.S. intelligence budgets until years after the Cold War ended. During the past decade, they have taken a back seat to the CIA.