By SCOTT SHANE (NY Times): The most detailed public disclosure of American intelligence spending in history shows a surprisingly dominant role for the Central Intelligence Agency, a growing emphasis on both defensive and offensive cyberoperations and significant gaps in the government’s knowledge despite the sharp increase in financing after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The top secret budget request for the current fiscal year was obtained by The Washington Post from the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and published in part on its Web site on Thursday. The newspaper said it was withholding most of the 178-page document at the request of government officials because “sensitive details are so pervasive” in its description of spying programs.
The document shows that the agencies’ budget request for the year ending Sept. 30 was $52.6 billion, a small decrease since the 2011 peak of $54.6 billion after a decade of rapid spending growth. Of that, the biggest share was taken by the C.I.A., which carries out traditional human spying and intelligence analysis but also now conducts drone strikes against terrorism suspects in Pakistan and Yemen.
The C.I.A. asked for $14.7 billion, significantly outpacing the two big technological spy agencies, the eavesdropping National Security Agency, which sought $10.8 billion, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates surveillance satellites, at $10.3 billion. While the document reflects dollars requested for fiscal year 2013 and not those actually received, the record of past expenditures suggests that real spending this year is probably very close to the amount requested.
The 16 American spy agencies employed about 107,000 people, the document shows. The number does not include tens of thousands of contractors who work in support of the intelligence agencies, in some cases outnumbering actual employees, said Jeffrey T. Richelson, a prolific author on intelligence.
Mr. Richelson said he thought the N.S.A. budget figure understated the real cost of its electronic surveillance, because it omits much of the support it receives from military personnel who carry out eavesdropping on its behalf.
The latest disclosure underscores the extraordinary impact of the leaksby Mr. Snowden, 30, who has accepted temporary asylum in Russia as he tries to avoid prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.
The documents he took from his job as an N.S.A. contractor and provided to The Guardian, The Post and other publications have set off the most significant public debate in decades about surveillance and data collection by the government. The parts of the new budget document published by The Post, while containing no major surprises, offers by far the most granular look to date at how the billions that go tointelligence collection is spent. (The Guardian has recently shared some of Mr. Snowden’s documents with The New York Times.)
For decades, administrations of both political parties have hidden spy spending in what is popularly known as the “black budget,” asserting that letting adversaries know what the United States was spending would make the country less safe. Only since 2007 has even the total annual spending on what is called the national intelligence priorities budget been made public; another $23 billion is spent each year in a separate military intelligence budget.
Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists and has long campaigned for greater budget transparency, said the document “highlights the ascension of the C.I.A.,” which before the Sept. 11era accounted for about 10 percent of intelligence spending and now approaches a third of the total. President George W. Bush began a rapid expansion of the C.I.A.’s work force in response to the terrorist attacks and in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The C.I.A. has a presence in many places where they did not 15 years ago,” Mr. Aftergood said. In addition, it has taken on a major paramilitary role in combating terrorism, notably by carrying out missile strikes from drones in places where the United States is not officially at war.
The document reveals that agency spends about $2.5 billion on covert action, secret overseas operations that include the drone program.
The budget included $4.3 billion for cyberoperations, a relatively new and increasingly central part of national security programs. That covers both intrusions into foreign computers to gather intelligence and prepare for possible cyberattack, and spending to prevent electronic spying and hacking against the United States.
According to The Post, the budget request included a candid account of the remaining holes in the government’s knowledge of the world despite the aggressive spying. The governments of China, Russia and Iran are hard to penetrate, but North Korea may be the hardest target of all, the document suggests.
Mr. Aftergood said the document suggested that the agencies could safely be far more open about their priorities and spending without damaging national security. “We did not need this document to tell us that North Korea is a hard target,” he said.
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