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Annual US Intelligence Bill Tops $80 Billion 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the annual-US-stupidity-bill-much-higher dept.
Ponca City writes "The LA Times reports that the US government has disclosed its annual intel budget for the first time in more than a decade: $80.1 billion on intelligence gathering, representing about 12% of the nation's $664-billion defense budget. The government revealed the total intelligence budget twice before, in 1997 and 1998, in response to a lawsuit. It was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively, meaning the budget has tripled in 12 years. 'It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,' says Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dana Priest reported that more than 1,200 government agencies or offices and almost 2,000 outside contractors are involved in counter-terrorism activities, producing about 50,000 intelligence reports each year, far more than the government can effectively digest. The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"
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Annual US Intelligence Bill Tops $80 Billion

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  • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:44PM (#34065092)
    Thanks for posting this. Now we now that Diane Feinstein has no business being on this committee and that James R. Clapper Jr. isn't doing his job either.
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Neither of the things you said has anything to do with statistics, they're simply an opinion based on opinions about a number, and the latter one doesn't even have a sound basis in reality.

      For starters, right from the summary: Clapper's statement was made during his confirmation hearing. Do you know what a confirmation hearing is? It means it wasn't his job at the time, making your comment completely inane without even evaluating the sentiment.

      Second, even if he said it again today and it were complet

  • The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"

    Does God have the need to know? I can't find him in JPAS either.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Does God have the need to know? I can't find him in JPAS either.

      You don't have high enough clearance for that. Don't ask questions above your paygrade. ;-P

  • Feinstein ... ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:52PM (#34065210)

    It seems fairly clear that with "the last decade" they are trying to blame it on (who would've guessed?) Bush.

    The chairs of the committee have been:

    • 2009-2010: Feinstein (D)
    • 2007-2008: Rockefeller (D)
    • 2005-2006: Roberts (R)
    • 2003-2004: Roberts (R)
    • 2001-2002: Graham (D)

    I wonder how much the budget went up from 2001-2003 and from 2007-present, since Democrats chaired it then? I find it hard to pin this down on either party...

    • Re:Feinstein ... ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:56PM (#34065256)
      It looks like in 2005, it was $44 billion... so, presumably, between 2005 and the present, it doubled. According to one story, it was at $50 billion in 2007... meaning, from 2007 to present, it gained $30 billion? It seems hard to blame that on Bush and the Republicans, since that's only two years of Bush and no years of Republican SIC chairmanship.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by enrevanche (953125) *

        The numbers you are reporting are only the NIP budgets, i.e. 43.5 billion on 2007, 49.8 billion in 2009 and 52.1 billion in 2010. The more than 50 billion in 2007 was just speculation. The >80 billion budget for 2010 fully (supposedly) discloses the total of all of the secret budgets as well.

        Since the 2009 budget was approved in 2008, most of the increases happened under Bush. This does not excuse the Democrats for allowing the budget to grow even more, but the process has been entrenched for years

      • by blair1q (305137)

        It doesn't take two years. It only takes one bill. I have no doubt that the Bush/Cheney junta pushed through a lot of stuff just before they lost control of the Congress. Remember, they're the party of corporate excess, and enriching Halliburton through its no-bid contracts were still their primary focus for policy decisions.

    • No need to pin to the two main parties, they are BOTH at fault. BOTH conspire against us and take bribes from any organization willing to offer $5000+ to our congress-critters. So, don't find fault with the bleeding-heart idiots, or the gun-toting xtian hillbillies, they are both fucked in the head, and on the take. No, I'm not a Tea Bagger either, I'm an American Citizen and not happy with the right or left. Get in the middle and do some fucking work, and stop taking money from corporations. Yeah, tha

      • Generally, I agree. Frankly, I'm pretty conservative ... especially fiscally ... but I'd have to say I'm a bit more socially moderate than most "conservatives." But honestly ... I'd rather have an honest centrist or even socialist-leaning than dishonest Republican/conservative/whatever. Unfortunately, it seems all the honest people get killed before they get to Washington or something. :P

        There do seem to be some honest, genuinely nice "politicians." Like ... two. Or something like that.

    • by canajin56 (660655)

      Seems fairly clear, my ass. It's gone up 3 fold since 9/11. This is a true fact. If truth has become partisan then all is lost. Would saying "Since 9/11" be less partisan for your liking? Or is that worse since 9/11 is a registered trademark of Rudy Guiliani? Maybe "lately?" is that non-partisan enough? At any rate, as a committee it's bipartisan, currently with 8 Dems and 7 Repubs. Can't anybody say ANYTHING AT ALL without everybody screaming "A democratic woman, lets not listen!"

      At any rate, t

      • I fail to see how I was being partisan or sexist. I said nothing about her being a woman. And I didn't even say I was Republican or wanted to somehow defend the Republicans. Can't I be critical of something or someone in government without being accused of partisanship and sexism?

        Yes, what she said is a fact; but I can cherry-pick statistics and prove my point shockingly close to an election that happens to be favoring the other party, too. Facts can be misused, misconstrued, twisted, and distorted, yet

    • by blair1q (305137)

      2007-present may be less egregious, but the party affiliation of the chairman in 2001 and 2002 was irrelevant.

      90% of the people in this country wanted blood after 9/11, and with those odds, politicians had no choice but to comply.

  • by eln (21727) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:52PM (#34065214) Homepage
    Make way for the terror-industrial complex. I remember after the cold war there was actually serious talk about reducing the military budget from utterly ludicrous to just slightly ludicrous. That is until we found a new boogieman and started the "war on terror". Now that we're fighting an abstract concept instead of an actual definable (and beatable) enemy, our military-industrial complex can continue to grow without limit forever. As an extra added bonus, since this abstract concept requires constant surveillance of small targets (ie, people in small huts scattered all over the world), the vast majority of the money can simply be tossed into a giant hole called "classified operations" and we don't even have to bother with all that tedious itemized budgeting we had to do with the traditional military.

    On the other hand, at least with the old military-industrial complex we got some cool hardware that we got to see at air shows and parades. Nowadays all we get is the occasional FBI surveillance device on our cars and constant news stories about entire airports being shut down because someone forgot to put their shampoo in the checked bag instead of the carry-on.

    But hey, at least we're all safer now, right?
    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:08PM (#34065408)
      I came to the conclusion some time ago that the United States can not function without a bogeyman. In a country of highly polarized absolutes, it is impossible for most people to conceive of an America that exists as "good" unless something else is held up as an example of "evil."
      • Take for example the constant paucity of translators familiar with the tongue of countries we're occupying. Where was the nationwide scholarship initiative for Pashto, Farsi and Arabic -- in High school -- in say 9/12/01? It's not like 10 years later our major problem has been trust and the second one has been trust and the third has been blowing up people accidently due to flawed -- um what is that word I'm looking for?
        I guess the conspiracy buffs have been right all along.

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      I should not worry about the cost, Obama's message seems to be "Can we print the US Dollar, Yes we can".

      It all looks like a slower motion version of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    • You need to understand that the role of the US military is to defend not just the USA but dozens of other countries. Europe, Japan, S. Korea, S. Arabia and small gulf states, Israel, Australia, more or less entire S. America etc. All those countries depend and can count on US to come in on their side in case of any major conflict. What are the effects of this: a) all those countries have to side with us whenever we need them, politically and economically (think of the gulf oil) b) it prevents bigger conflic

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The US isn't fighting an abstract concept. As much as they hate it, the real enemy is Islam. Except they can't admit it and will never do so.

      The US has been fighting this since at least the early 1920s in the Phillipines and it really hasn't let up any. There has been a particular focus since 1948 with Israel in that part of the world, but we are seeing a general transformation in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

      At some point, someone with nuclear weapons on the Islamic side is going to say e

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:53PM (#34065224) Journal

    Let's see, what things might have happened in the last decade which demanded a growth in our intelligence spending?

    Man, I can't think of *anything*. I guess that means that total spending approaching $10 Billion is completely unreasonable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You decide like this:

      1. Increasing debt means American public, in general, is unhappy with spending more.

      2. Look for area where not-my-party has increased spending.

      3. Decide it's bad.

      4. Bonus points: be chair of committee so that you can imply that if your party remains in power, your party can fix it.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I just hope all the same people who say "throwing more money at education won't fix it" realize the same is true for intelligence. We'll see. I happen to think intelligence *is* the main ingredient to defending against terrorism, since hiding is their only defense, whereas sending massive conventional forces to invade nations was a stupendous blunder. Then again, the Iraq invasion was due to intelligence errors - the cause of which was cultural, not lack of resources.
    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:24PM (#34065626) Homepage Journal

      Let's see, what things might have happened in the last decade which demanded a growth in our intelligence spending?

      Man, I can't think of *anything*. I guess that means that total spending approaching $10 Billion is completely unreasonable.

      Look, I'm pretty right wing, but even with the two wars and Al Qaeda still trying to run ops against us, there's no excuse for the current state of our intelligence community. Do you realize just how big and bloated it is? Have you seen the Wikipedia page for the U.S. Intelligence Community [wikipedia.org]? Do you see how many different agencies there are? It seems like every single organ of the government has its own intel department, some of them very large. And many of these agencies... for example the military branches and the State Department... are often working against each other. The way Intel has grown has been monstrous and counterproductive. And it's just way too damn big. Intelligence, to be effective, cannot be too big or too expansive. So recognizing that we had so many agencies, what did we do? Cut them down? Eliminate and consolidate some of them? No, we added yet another layer of bureaucracy with the "Director of National Intelligence", the idea being that he'd be a central clearinghouse and authority for all US Intel. But guess what... we had that already. Wasn't the "Director of Central Intelligence" supposed to have that job? I mean the very nature of the, duh, Central Intelligence Agency was to be that central clearinghouse for all US intel. Again, we just added more bureaucracy.

      Have a good look at that list. We should probably eliminate or consolidate two-thirds of those organizations. Why in the holy hell do we need a separate national reconnaissance office and national geospatial intel agency outside of CIA? Why does the State Department need an intel org? Just have diplomats write observational reports and forward them to CIA.

      Bottom line, just like every other branch of government, intelligence has gotten too huge, expensive, and bloated to effectively do its job.

      • The scary answer for why there are so many competing intelligence organs? To keep CIA in check. State has been at odds with CIA for decades, with CIA wanting to overthrow governments and to blow stuff up and with State trying to keep the status quo. The most bizarre aspect of CIA isn't that it has its own paramilitary directorate, but that this directorate has been responsible for high-tech advances such as the SR-71 Blackbird (which began life as the CIA-funded A-12) and the Predator drones, and has some o

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Just because there are a lot of intelligence agencies, doesn't *necessarily* mean that there are 'too many'. It may be the you are correct, that there are too many, but the only way to know if there are *too many* is to do an analysis of what they each do, and see to what extent they are redundant. It's quite probable that each intelligence agency has a specialization, designed to serve the specific part of the government they belong to (which is probably why there are like 8 intelligence 'agencies' within

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Wasn't the reason we got a "Department of Homeland Security" that the intelligence system was disjoint and we needed a single office in charge of coordinating it all?

        Bush led us down a lot of primrose paths in the years after 9/11. And, as I predicted then, little of what he did actually improved security, and much of what he did put us into a war that will likely last a century.

  • Truly scary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838)

    If you want to understand what any organization is actually doing (as opposed to understanding what they say they're doing), read their budget. So the fact that the people theoretically in charge of the intelligence agencies don't know how the money is being spent means that they aren't in charge at all.

    There are 2 non-mutually-exclusive reasons this could happen:
    - The people that are supposed to be in charge aren't doing their jobs.
    - The career spies that work directly for the people in charge are hiding t

    • by bcmm (768152)
      Who says the money is all going to people who have some sort of secret activities to hide? There could easily be groups that are so secret that nobody knows that they don't actually do any work.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Yes, it's better if the US intelligence agencies are spending my money on nothing rather than spending it on spying on me.

        But that still doesn't make it perfectly ok.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday October 29, 2010 @01:56PM (#34065258) Homepage

    This is the inevitable outcome of having the operations side of the intelligence community gutted back in the 1970s by the Church Committee. There are two ways to organize intelligence: boots on the ground or an army of analysts who "use technology to make up for the lack of boots on the ground."

    The American people want good, actionable intelligence without all of the sordid shit that the CIA did to get it back then. That's like a fat ass wanting to gorge herself with cake and have a body that rivals Gisele Bundchen or Heidi Klum.

    9/11 was proof that the "we can use technology to replace an operations-focused intelligence apparatus" argument is a load of bullshit.

    • 9/11 was proof that the "we can use technology to replace an operations-focused intelligence apparatus" argument is a load of bullshit.

      Far from it.

      We already had plenty of intel about the plot, it just wasn't correlated very well.
      More "boots on the ground" would not have brought the plot to light any sooner.

      All 9/11 was proof of was that a society based on freedom will occasionally be attacked by people exploiting freedom.
      We seem to have taken the wrong lesson from that proof and have decided to repress freedom in a scattershot approach to reducing attacks.

  • complaining about uncontrolled government spending?

    only when it goes to teachers and transit systems and healthcare for poor people do they seem to get upset

    the usa has to massively curtail its intelligence and military spending

    unfortunately, we will only dominate the world 2x over, rather than 10x over (rolls eyes)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)

      where is the tea party and the republicans complaining about uncontrolled government spending?
      Well I for one am for cutting defense as well as entitlements wherever possible. The problem with defense is that neither you nor I have any clue what number is actually appropriate to meet our defense needs without expert knowledge of international diplomacy, military strategy and a big crystal ball to see what the future threats will be. It is easy for the UK to slash their defense spending when their doctrine s

  • It shows a massive lack of intelligence across teh board fro US defense budgets.
    Consider what the world wants [unesco.org] and this was calculated years ago.

    Amazing that the US defense Budget is nearing what the whole world had budgeted for defense not so long ago.

    The incredible lack of intelligence these current numbers show is of complete failure to realize this amount of money used on removing real world problems and improving the general social environment the people of this world live in, would result in a massivel

    • "The incredible lack of intelligence these current numbers show is of complete failure to realize this amount of money used on removing real world problems and improving the general social environment the people of this world live in, would result in a massively reduced motive to go to war. and perhaps even eliminate any need for war should all other countries instead spend their defence budgets on such improvements."

      Ah, the old "social spending will end war and terrorism" canard. Too bad that reality has s

  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:06PM (#34065386) Journal

    Playing devil's advocate here...

    We haven't had a major terrorist incident in the US for a while. Why?

    • A: There hasn't been any credible ability to do so by the bad guys
      B: Nobody wants to harm the US any more
      C: The counterterrorism efforts have prevented such an attack

    For ANY of the above choices, how do you know? I mean, REALLY know, not just guessing or trying to shout louder than the guy next to you whose opinion is different than yours?

    And for future budgets, how do you decide? Reduce the budget until a major attack happens, then go slightly higher next year? Reduce the budget then just absorb major attacks when they happen? Keep it where it's at on the assumption that the spending levels are the reason there's been nothing big happening? Again, upon what do you base your decision?

    In all of Slashdot's membership, there are probably a few who have the real, first-hand primary-source knowledge (or are themselves a primary source) to make these decisions based upon fact and clear, rational thought. The rest of us, myself included, are talking out of our asses because we don't know shit. I loathe and despise Feinstein (she's never met a government-power-increasing law she didn't like), but she's in a position to have at least some factual knowledge. Have we overspent? Probably. But I don't want to be the one to decide how much to cut, and what to keep, and I'm not going to pretend I'm qualified to tell the intel community how to do their jobs. (Intel(tm)? That's another matter...)

    We leave it to the judgment of history whether Feinstein is qualified to do so. Myself? I DON'T KNOW.

    • We leave it to the judgment of history whether Feinstein is qualified to do so. Myself? I DON'T KNOW.

      And the beauty of the system is that your trust will never be shattered because YOU NEVER WILL KNOW. What a wonderfully circular logic you use.

    • Playing devil's advocate here...

      We haven't had a major terrorist incident in the US for a while. Why?

      A: There hasn't been any credible ability to do so by the bad guys
      B: Nobody wants to harm the US any more
      C: The counterterrorism efforts have prevented such an attack

      For ANY of the above choices, how do you know? I mean, REALLY know, not just guessing or trying to shout louder than the guy next to you whose opinion is different than yours?

      Reminds me of the logic

      "Why are you doing all this intelligence?"

      "To k

    • by Hojima (1228978)

      Well you can still guess a good reason as to why no attack has occurred. One is that extremist organizations are more interested in gaining power in their own country (which the Taliban already accomplished). We showed that attacking us pretty much fucks that up, which is on of the reasons why terrorists in Iraq commit much more domestic attacks than attacks against the occupants there. It's pretty damn easy to get people in this country (as illegal immigration has shown), and you can send 1 man with 1 miss

    • We haven't had a major terrorist incident in the US for a while. Why?

      A: There hasn't been any credible ability to do so by the bad guys

      B: Nobody wants to harm the US any more

      C: The counterterrorism efforts have prevented such an attack

      D: Increased Vigilance of Everyday Americans

      They have not been any successful terror incidents in the US since 9/11 but there have been several attempts (underpants bomber, Times Square bomber, etc). What stopped those attempts from becoming incidents w

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Playing devil's advocate here...

      We haven't had a major terrorist incident in the US for a while. Why?

      • A: There hasn't been any credible ability to do so by the bad guys

        B: Nobody wants to harm the US any more

        C: The counterterrorism efforts have prevented such an attack

      How about:

      D: 9-11 was partly staged by insiders in the American Government to move their agenda across.

      While I am not a conspiracy theorist, that is looking way more likely then any other answer.

      We didn't improve our security since then, it's a joke. but we did increase our military spending, got some vice president's company making a shit load of money from jobs, and should I mention that our gas price went up through the roof while the oil companies were posting record breaking profits?

      And then during

  • spying on ourselves (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Francofille (1864714)

    You have to wonder how much of this is spent internally - wiretapping ourselves, invading our own privacy, installing GPS to some poor innocent kid's car for no reason. Unless you count some idle remarks on facebook as legit reasons for anything.

    Terrorists are the new commies. And like commies they could be among us, working to bring us down from within! Hurry and report all your friends on facebook before they report you!

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:08PM (#34065414)

    Administration: 12%

    Mistakes: 9%

    Useful work: 8%

    Coverups: 11%

    Pork:60%

  • With 80 billion, one should expect a lot more intelligence.

  • So it's $80 billion? Did everyone else fail to notice the other number in TFS? Total defense spending is $664 billion, which leaves $584 billion on non intelligence related defense spending. How much of that $584 billion is spent on military forces meant to defend against a cold war style enemy vs the kind of threats the US faces today? My guess would be a large portion of it. Of the $80 billion on intelligence, how much is appropriate for the kinds of threats the US faces today? My guess would be a s

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday October 29, 2010 @02:49PM (#34065960) Homepage

    The intel business has changed. It used to be that the US intelligence community was focused on the capabilities of the USSR, which was a big, slow-moving, closed society. Moving to today's targets is tough. The CIA and NSA had all that expertise focused on what the USSR was doing. They were looking for big stuff like missile launchers that are visible from orbit, and communications between a very centralized bureaucracy in Moscow with outlying subordinate stations. It was reasonably clear how to approach that. All that capability was ill-matched to the many post-USSR threats.

    Trying to get intel on a terrorist group is tough. First, the target is tiny. Remember, 9/11 only involved about 25 people, and only a few of them knew the plan more than a day in advance. Second, the groups aren't that connected. Islamic terrorism is an ideology, not an organization. Al-Queda ("The Base") is maybe 200 people at this point, and not doing much. The terrorist incidents in recent years haven't been very connected. Third, intel on terrorist groups has a short useful life. Where bin Laden was last month is only of historical interest. US intelligence used to be strategic. Now it's mostly tactical. The US used to obsess over Soviet bomber production rates. There's nothing like that to track now.

    Then there are the messes in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's an intel problem; insurgents are hard to find but easy to kill. The dumb insurgents are already dead. The remaining ones know how to keep quiet. There's no centralized control of either insurgency. If the insurgents establish a "stronghold", they become vulnerable. That, by the way, is why the war with the Taliban is stalemated. If the Taliban concentrates enough combat power to do anything big, they become vulnerable to modern firepower. If they operate in the background, they can survive, but can't take over, unless they can wear out their opposition. (This frustrates the US military. "Marine doctrine demands a decision." - FMFM-1. Insurgent doctrine does not. "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue" - Mao Zedong.)

    Coming up next: Mexico. Arguably, northern Mexico is already a "failed state". Drug lords are more vulnerable to intel operations than religiously-motivated insurgents, though. They can't hide too much and still do business, they have to deal and communicate, and the members mistrust each other.

    That confusion is why the US now has such a confused intel establishment. That's no excuse for it being as big as it is, though. Or, really, as secretive. Most of the targets today have insignificant capabilities to infiltrate or eavesdrop on the US intel establishment. It's not like going up against Moscow Center, which would devote huge resources and years of time to getting inside some US establishment. The secrecy can get in the way of getting things done.

    During WWII, and for decades thereafter, it didn't take a pass to get into the Pentagon. Gen. Marshall decided that any competent intelligence service would figure out a way to get into the building, and so only the really important stuff would be secured. Trying to secure the whole building would be security theater. We need more of that kind of thinking.

  • We're not getting our money's worth.

    I'll be here all night, try the ribeye, it's excellent
  • "The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'""

    What a moron, which of all the Gods does he mean?! As he is a defence guy I guess it must be some war God. It wouldn't surprise me if it was Týr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Týr) one of the mightiest God who gave his name to the day Tuesday!

  • wasteful! (Score:3, Funny)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Friday October 29, 2010 @03:11PM (#34066278)
    Man..they should just do what I do. Send out an SCV [wikia.com] out every once in awhile to gather intel for you. They only cost 50 minerals a pop (no gas).
  • Tripled in the last 12 years? That seems about right, given inflation and all. I know that in the last 12 years my stock portfolio has... hey, wait a minute!!!

    Just kidding. Actually I think $80B seems like a small amount of the $600B defense budget. After all, it's probably much cheaper to have good intelligence and make the best use of our troops than to just invade countries at random in hopes of making America safer (not that that would ever happen ;). Of course, we have no idea if we're really getting o

  • And supposedly it would cost $10 to $20 billion to get to Mars. I'm glad we have our priorities straight.

  • for 80 Billon of budget their should be the only ones that knows everything that God does.

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