Latest Snowden leak reveals multi-billion dollar "black budget"

U.S. 'black budget' reveals spending on spy programs


The latest leak from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden details the government’s so-called “black budget” — the multi-billion dollar budget request of America’s intelligence agencies.

The 178-page document outlines federal spending on surveillance programs. Intelligence agencies requested $52.6 billion for the 2013 fiscal year. The information was obtained by The Washington Post from Snowden, and published in part Thursday.

The budget shows the Central Intelligence Agency requested the most money at $14.7 billion or 68 percent of the budget.

Most of the total pot will go to data collection expenses — one of four spending categories — and warning U.S. leaders about major world events, like threats — one of five objectives.

And the black budget might be even larger than the $52 billion figure cited by the Post. A writer for The New York Times points out the N.S.A. budget figure omits much of the support it receives from military personnel who carry out eavesdropping on its behalf.

The budget report doesn’t just outline numbers; it also details targets. The Christian Science Monitor lists countries of “interest” to the intelligence agencies. “Among the nations listed as counterintelligence ‘priority targets’ are China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and ... Israel,” a U.S. ally.

But despite the intelligence community’s sizable budget, its surveillance isn’t always effective. The Guardian points out this latest report highlights several key weak points in the U.S. intelligence community.

“Huge gaps in knowledge about Iran, China and Russia are acknowledged, with North Korea identified as the most difficult to penetrate, mainly because of its relative lack of internet and other modern communications.”

And freelance journalist Joshua Foust noticed an interesting connection in the report. Some of the documents suggest Snowden may owe his success to the leaker who came before him: Chelsea Manning.

Apparently the government was supposed to start investigating high-risk, high-profile contractors like Snowden. But “the government panicked so strongly about the threat caused by leaking documents classified at a lower level than this document that it diverted resources from the very program that possibly would have exposed Edward Snowden before he could have leaked.”

 NSA head James Clapper defended the budget request in a statement to The Post, arguing the total federal budget for intelligence was less than one percent of GDP. In a separate statement, Clapper reiterated his department’s commitment to increased transparency.

- See more at Newsy.com


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Top News from AP

Flash flood kills 5 children, 4 adults at Arizona swim hole
Flash flood kills 5 children, 4 adults at Arizona swim hole

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. (AP) - Adults, teens and children as young as 2 were enjoying a summer afternoon by cooling off in an Arizona creek when the gentle waters turned deadly. The group from the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas had met Saturday for a day trip along a popular swimming hole near Payson, about 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) northeast...
Human remains found in search for missing men, 1 victim identified
Human remains found in search for missing men, 1 victim identified

NEW HOPE, Pa. (AP) - Investigators found the body of one of four missing young men along with other human remains buried on a Pennsylvania farm, and vowed to "bring each and every one of these lost boys home to their families." Cadaver dogs led them to the spot on the 90-acre (36-hectare) farm in Solebury Township where they discovered human...
North Korea claims it tested first intercontinental missile
North Korea claims it tested first intercontinental missile

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in a launch Tuesday, a potential game-changing development in its push to militarily challenge Washington - but a declaration that conflicts with earlier South Korean and U.S. assessments that it had an intermediate range. The North has previously...
The ESPYS on Channel 2: Michael Phelps, Simone Biles among finalists
The ESPYS on Channel 2: Michael Phelps, Simone Biles among finalists

Multiple stars from last summer's Rio Olympics highlight this year's nominees for best male and female athletes for The ESPYS. Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won five gold medals in Rio, joins National League MVP Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook as the four nominees...
Tropical Storm Cindy makes landfall in Louisiana
Tropical Storm Cindy makes landfall in Louisiana

Gulf Coast states were in for a third day of rough weather as Tropical Storm Cindy sloshed ashore early Thursday in southwestern Louisiana. Already blamed for one death in Alabama, Cindy was expected to keep churning seas and spin off bands of severe weather from eastern Texas to northwestern Florida. The storm's maximum sustained winds had decreased...
More Stories