The CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Last week, it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) could view 75% of US internet traffic. While this startling statistic may be a cause for concern, it appears that even a bigger storm could be brewing.
A 178-page report, leaked by Edward Snowden, revealed the National Intelligence Program (NIP) received approximately $52.6 billion in 2013.
While the American government has released its annual spending on intelligence since 2007, the large scope of the “black budget” is astounding as it goes into great depth about where the money is used. The report also outlines the successes, failures and objectives of the combined 16 spy agencies, including the allocation of the budget, re-prioritisation of failed programs, funding management and the aim to “enhance counterintelligence”.
To put into perspective of the scale of the budget, it is higher than the GDP of more than 100 nations according to the International Monetary Fund. It is also noted that the National Security Agency received around half of that of the National Intelligence Program.
39% of the budget has gone towards strategic intelligence against nations such as Pakistan, China and North Korea.
James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, says it is imperative that an emphasis should be placed on security and intelligence after 9/11.
"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".
Clapper also insists that the documents should be "classified" for security reasons, as it could "provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities and sources and methods."
According to a summary devised by the Washington Post, notable revelations in the budget summary are:
- Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $US14.7 billion ($A16.5 billion) in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 per cent above that of the National Security Agency (NSA), which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.
- The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as "offensive cyber operations".
- The NSA planned to investigate at least 4000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own. The budget documents show that the US intelligence community has sought to strengthen its ability to detect what it calls "anomalous behaviour" by personnel with access to highly classified material.
- US intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an "intractable target" and counter-intelligence operations "are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel".
- In words, deeds and dollars, intelligence agencies remain fixed on terrorism as the gravest threat to US national security, which is listed first among five "mission objectives". Counterterrorism programs employ one in four members of the intelligence workforce and account for one-third of all spending.
- The governments of Iran, China and Russia are difficult to penetrate, but North Korea's may be the most opaque. There are five "critical" gaps in US intelligence about Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, and analysts know virtually nothing about the intentions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.