Blair Discloses Budget for Intelligence Community: $75 Billion

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 17, 2009

The United States spent $75 billion over the past year to finance worldwide intelligence operations that employ 200,000 people, according to an unprecedented disclosure by the nation's top intelligence official.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair disclosed the figures while introducing his four-year national intelligence strategy during a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters. In emphasizing that the document does not differentiate between national and military intelligence efforts, Blair said, "This morning, we're talking about the very important business of a blueprint to run this 200,000-person, $75 billion national enterprise in intelligence."

By contrast, Congress approved $32.8 billion this year for the State Department and for foreign assistance provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

For years, the government has tried to keep secret the cost of running the agencies that make up the intelligence community, arguing that doing otherwise would somehow help the country's adversaries. Under pressure from lawsuits and Congress, the Bush administration said two years ago that the cost of national intelligence activities in fiscal 2007 was $43.5 billion. For fiscal 2008, the figure was put at $47.5 billion. In both years, figures for the military intelligence side remained classified.

Last year, then-Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell referred in a speech at Harvard University to 100,000 people in the intelligence community, but he was referring only to the national intelligence side, not the military.

The last time budget figures were available for both national and military intelligence was in 1994, when the House Appropriations defense subcommittee mistakenly published them in the declassified record of its hearings, just months after Congress voted to keep the figures secret. At that time, the national intelligence budget was $16.3 billion and the military intelligence allocation was $10.4 billion.

Blair was asked about his disclosure Tuesday evening. He said he announced the total figure for all 16 civilian and military intelligence agencies for the past year "just so people have an idea of roughly how much we're talking about." But he added, "We don't publish -- nor am I going to make news tonight telling you how much each individual agency is funded for and what it's used for."

Wendy Morigi, a spokeswoman for Blair, said Wednesday that there would be no additional comment on Blair's revelation.

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