Total US intelligence bill tops $80 billion

Associated Press / October 29, 2010

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WASHINGTON — The annual cost of US intelligence is public for the first time: just over $80 billion for 2010.

Figures released by the government yesterday show $27 billion goes to military intelligence and $53.1 billion covers the CIA and some of the country’s other 16 intelligence agencies.

Steven Aftergood, a secrecy specialist at the Federation of American Scientists, said it’s “the most complete disclosure we have ever had.’’

The $80 billion exceeds the $51 billion spent on the State Department and foreign aid programs in 2010.

The new director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that it was time to tell the American public the total cost of intelligence. The last director, retired Admiral Dennis Blair, had revealed in congressional testimony that the 2009 figure was around $75 billion.

The military budget helps fund Army and Navy intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency, while some organizations, such as the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, get funding from military and intelligence budgets, Aftergood said.

The figures drew an immediate pledge to slash intelligence spending from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman. She said intelligence spending had “blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,’’ doubling since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Given the country’s financial situation, “cuts will be necessary,’’ Feinstein said. She noted that this year’s $27 billion military budget includes supplemental funding for counterterrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Feinstein has spoken out about the high cost of satellite intelligence. While most figures are classified, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarded roughly $7 billion in contracts to two commercial satellite providers this year.