Snowden releases US intelligence budget, Post withholds info

The top secret budget request for the current fiscal year was obtained by The Washington Post from the former National Security Agency 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 from the 2011 peak of $54.6 billion, which came 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 and special operations.

The C.I.A. asked for $14.7 billion, significantly outpacing the two big technological spy agencies, the eavesdropping N.S.A., which sought $10.8 billion, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates surveillance satellites and sought $10.3 billion. While the document reflects the money requested for the 2013 fiscal year and not what was 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 employ about 107,000 people, including some 21,800 working on contract, 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.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 leaks by Mr. Snowden, 30, who has accepted temporary asylum in Russia as he tries to avoid prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

For decades, administrations from both parties have hidden spy spending in what is popularly known as the “black budget,” asserting that letting adversaries know what the United States is spending would make the country less safe. Only since 2007 has even the total annual spending on what is called the national intelligence program been made public; another $23 billion is spent each year in a separate military intelligence budget.

Experts estimate that the government has spent about $500 billion on the intelligence agencies in the dozen years since the Sept. 11 attacks. That was a sharp increase in spending over the 1990s but is roughly what the Pentagon is spending this year alone.

Mr. Clapper said, the N.S.A.’s eavesdropping would get additional money to use on “foreign leadership targets” as well as to break the encryption used on foreign communications and “exploit Internet traffic.”

The budget called for some $278 million for the N.S.A.’s “corporate partner access,” a reference to payments to Internet and fiber cable companies to provide it with access to their customers’ communications, and more than $48 million to study “coping with information overload,” a longstanding problem for the agency.

The document “highlights the ascension of the C.I.A.,” which before the Sept. 11 era 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

The document reveals that agency spends about $2.5 billion on covert action, including 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. But it is only a fraction of the entire government spending, since the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security account for most cyberspending.
As Mr. Snowden was quietly beginning to collect the documents he would provide to the news media, The Post reported, the budget request emphasized “safeguarding classified networks” and a rigorous “review of high-risk, high-gain applicants and contractors” — an apparent reference to the young computer technicians the agencies have been recruiting. N.S.A. officials said they would carry out “a minimum of 4,000 periodic reinvestigations” of employees to avoid “insider compromise of sensitive information,” the document said.

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