America’s Intelligence Budget Black Hole
by Stephen Lendman
On August 29, the Washington Post headlined “US spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary,” saying:
Post-9/11, US spy agencies “built an intelligence-gathering colossus. (It) remain(s) unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government’s top-secret budget.”
Its budget totals $52.6 billion for FY 2013. WaPo obtained it “from intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.”
It discusses a “bureaucratic and operational landscape.” It was never before subjected to public scrutiny.
It shows a dominant CIA role. It reveals significant cyberoperations. It discloses important knowledge gaps about targeted countries.
It tells nothing about how funds are used. It doesn’t disclose how effectively it achieves administration or congressional goals.
WaPo obtained the 178-page budget summary. It’s “sensitive” and “pervasive.” It published a portion of what it got.
It detailed “successes, failures and objectives of” America’s 16 spy agencies. They have 107,035 employees.
Summary information discusses “cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations.”
It’s concealing what intelligence officials say poses risks to their sources and data collection methods.
According to Director of National Intelligence
(DNI) James Clapper:
“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.”
“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.”
Information WaPo disclosed includes:
(1) The CIA spends far more than other spy agencies. In FY 2013, it requested $14.7 billion. It exceeds NSA spending by 50%.
Actual amounts spent may be much more. Spy agency operations are secret. Great pains are taken to conceal them. Information revealed may be the tip of the iceberg. WaPo didn’t explain.
It obtained one black budget. At issue is do others exist? How many? Does each agency have its own? Are supplemental funds allocated on request?
CIA drone operations are enormously expensive. So is its involvement in America’s global torture prison network. Dozens are active worldwide.
(2) CIA and NSA aggressively hack into foreign computer networks. They conduct espionage. They sabotage enemy systems.
They conduct what budget language calls “offensive cyber operations.”
(3) Long before Snowden’s leaks, intelligence agency officials worried about “anomalous behavior.”
They’re concerned about employees and contractors with access to classified material.
NSA began investigating 4,000 individuals this year. They hold high level security clearances. Potentially they can compromise sensitive information. They can replicate Snowden revelations.
(4) Intelligence agencies target friends and foes. Pakistan’s called an “intractable target.”
Counterintelligence operations focus on China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Israel and other countries.
Israel notoriously spies intensively on America. The CIA calls it Washington’s main regional spy threat.
Israeli operatives have close ties to foreign military, criminal and intelligence sources. They steal everything they can get their hands on. It includes military and commercial secrets.
They hack into computers for information. Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”
The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States.”
It’s hard knowing if Israel is more foe than friend. In response to billions of dollars annually in aid, the latest weapons and technology, and numerous other special privileges, it steals US state and civilian secrets.
(5) Intelligence agencies claim they focus on terrorism. They call it the gravest threat to national security. They lied saying so. No domestic terror threat exists.
US state terror creates whatever exists abroad. Spying is about control. It’s about advancing imperial priorities. It wants threats challenging it eliminated.
It’s about espionage. It’s for economic advantage. It’s to be one up on foreign competitors. It’s for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.
(6) China, Russia and Iran are hard to penetrate. North Korea may be hardest of all. It’s “opaque.”
Analysts know little about five “critical” gaps in its nuclear and missile programs. They practically known nothing about Kim Jong Un.
Formally, America’s spy “blueprint” is called the Congressional Budget Justification for the National Intelligence Program. It’s classified “top secret.”
It describes 16 known spy agencies. They track millions of targets. Operations conducted include hundreds of lethal strikes.
“They are organized around five priorities: combating terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear and other unconventional weapons, warning U.S. leaders about critical events overseas, defending against foreign espionage, and conducting cyber-operations.”
According to Clapper, threats “virtually defy rank-ordering.” He warned about “hard choices.”
Information WaPo revealed explains how US intelligence expanded post-9/11. Over half a trillion dollars was spent.
Perhaps it was double or more that amount. Black budgets don’t say. Claiming it’s to prevent another catastrophic domestic terror attack doesn’t wash.
So-called terrorists had nothing to do with 9/11. WaPo didn’t explain. It said America has “an espionage empire with resources and a reach beyond those of any adversary.”
Cold War spending isn’t known. Inflation adjusted it’s much higher today. Advanced technology involves great expense. Supercomputers et al aren’t cheap.
Current spending’s separate from $23 billion more. It’s for military related intelligence. Perhaps it’s double or more what’s reported.
It bears repeating. Black budgets are secret. Getting any information isn’t easy. According to Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood:
“It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007.”
“But a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach.”
“This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”
Defense spending is 10 times more than on spying. At least according to what’s published. Information revealed may fall far short of reality. Only selected top secret cleared individuals know for sure.
According to WaPo, CIA’s dominant position surprised experts. It “was transformed from a spy service struggling to emerge from the Cold War into a paramilitary force.”
The late Chalmers Johnson was a CIA consultant years earlier. He knew how the agency functioned. He said we’ll:
“never again know peace, nor in all probability survive very long as a nation, unless we abolish” it.
It’s the president’s pretorian guard. It’s his private army. It works the same way as in ancient Rome.
It produces fake intelligence to justify policy. It’s loyal by being willing to lie. It does lots more than that.
It operates extrajudicially. Originally it had five missions. Four involved collection, coordination and dissemination of intelligence.
The fifth is vague. It lets operatives perform other missions. They include overthrowing sovereign independent governments, assassinating foreign leaders and key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and targeting individuals for extraordinary rendition.
CIA personnel run America’s drone command centers. They operate worldwide. They’re instruments of state terror. They sanitize killing on the cheap.
Johnson wanted CIA intelligence transferred to State Department operations. He advocated removing all but purely military functions from the Pentagon.
According to WaPo, the agency spent billions recruiting and training a new generation of case officers. It’s staff numbers 21,575.
“US spy agencies’ long-standing reliance on technology remains intact,” said WaPo.
“If anything, their dependence on high-tech surveillance systems to fill gaps in human intelligence has intensified.”
It doesn’t surprise. The more sophisticated the tools, the more they’re used. The more they’re relied on. The more spent on them.
A section on North Korea says it’s surrounded by surveillance platforms. Others target Iran. Previously unknown nuclear sites undetected by satellite images were discovered, said WaPo.
Alleged Syrian “unencrypted communications” were monitored. Claims about what’s gotten are easily twisted for political advantage.
Budget information disclosed “includes a lengthy section on funding for counterintelligence programs designed to protect against the danger posed by foreign intelligence services as well as betrayals from within the U.S. spy ranks,” said WaPo.
Documents describe programs to “mitigate insider threats by trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized access to sensitive information to harm U.S. interests.”
This year’s budget promised a renewed “focus on safeguarding classified networks.” It reviews “high-risk, high-gain applicants and contractors.”
They have needed skills. Snowden was the type computer specialist NSA needs. He was trained to circumvent computer network security.
Extra measures are now taken to prevent other employees replicating his revelations.
US spy agencies have no constraints on what’s spent. It’s to advance America’s imperium. Doing it matters most. The sky’s the limit to reach planned goals.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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