By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The director of national intelligence will disclose today that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according to sources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.
The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the total remains classified.
Adm. Mike McConnell will announce that the fiscal 2007 national intelligence program figure, classified up to now, is being made public at the urging of the Sept. 11 commission and the insistence of Congress, which turned the commission's recommendation into law. The commission's plan was to have the president make the figure public each year.
While the budget figure released by McConnell excludes intelligence programs for the separate military services, it includes the budgets of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI's intelligence programs, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the major Defense Department intelligence collection agencies.
The latter group includes the National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic communications; the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and manages intelligence satellites; and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which does image collection. They compose a major part of the $40 billion-plus national intelligence budget.
In October 1997, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet disclosed that $26.6 billion was the aggregate amount appropriated for intelligence and intelligence-related activities for fiscal year 1997. He said he saw no harm to national security in such a disclosure.
Tenet also released an aggregate amount for fiscal 1998. It was $26.7 billion, or an increase of $100 million. Since that time, the overall intelligence budget has remained classified, despite several legal challenges to make the figure public.
At a public meeting in 2005, Mary Margaret Graham, the deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion, including the budget for the military services. The figure was never officially confirmed.
At that time, Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, who had unsuccessfully sued to get the figure published, told reporters the Graham slip was "ironic," adding: "We sued the CIA four times for this kind of information and lost. You can't get it through legal channels."
In July, Aftergood told the House intelligence committee: "There is no single declassification action that would signal the end to obsolete classification practices as clearly and powerfully as declassification of the total annual intelligence budget."