Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents providing the most detail yet about how the vast U.S. intelligence community uses its nearly $53 billion so-called "black budget," according to a report by The Washington Post.
Today the Post published several stories and statistics based on the U.S. intelligence agencies' 2013 Congressional Budget Justification, a classified document that breaks down how much money goes to which agency and, to a certain extent, what those agencies do with the funds. The newspaper reported Snowden was the source of the document. Prior to the leak, only the total budget was public knowledge.
Though the newspaper published graphs and pie charts tracking the spending of each of the intelligence community's 16 agencies, it said withheld "some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods."
According to the Post, the budget document reveals that the CIA receives the most funding of any intelligence agency with a proposed $14.7 billion for 2013 -- $11.5 billion on data collection expenses, $1.8 billion on management, facilities and support, $1.1 billion on data analysis and $387.3 million on data processing and exploitation.
Next up is the National Security Agency, for whom Snowden worked as a contractor, which spends almost as much on management, facilities and support -- $5.2 billion -- as it does on collecting, processing and analyzing data -- $5.6 billion.
Together the documents reportedly reveal NSA and CIA have launched aggressive "offensive cyber operations" to steal information from foreign computer networks or disrupt enemy systems.
But of all the broad missions the intelligence community undertakes, the one that is the most costly -- more than counter-terrorism or combating weapons proliferation -- is that of providing strategic intelligence and warning for major world events including a region or state's "economic instability, state failure, societal unrest and emergence of regional powers."
Another highlight from the documents, according to the Post, is that the U.S. intelligence community considers Israel a "priority target" along with China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.
The documents also filled in some details about the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Post reported the raid was assisted by a "fleet of satellites" which collected signals intelligence over Pakistan as the mission was ongoing. The documents also say the U.S. got a DNA confirmation that the man they had killed was bin Laden just eight hours after the raid concluded.
Snowden, the source behind the most massive intelligence leak in U.S. history, is in Russia three months after the 30-year-old fled Hawaii for Hong Kong with a trove of secrets he allegedly stole from the NSA and turned over to several journalists including one from The Washington Post.
Ever since there has been a steady stream of reporting on activities the U.S. government would prefer to keep secret, including details of its vast foreign and domestic surveillance programs, the role that major telecommunications companies play in the programs, the CIA's penchant for spying on government officials from foreign nations and, most recently, just how much this is all costing American taxpayers.
Snowden has been hailed by a hero my some and a traitor by others, and has been charged in the U.S. with espionage-related crimes.
After Snowden left Hong Kong for Russia, the U.S. pressured Russian leaders to hand him over, but since the two nations have no extradition treaty and since, in the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Snowden had not committed any crimes there, he was allowed to stay.
In response to The Washington Post's report, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, which overseas America's intelligence community, told the Post, "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."
- Politics & Government
- Military & Defense