Not only the overall cost of U.S. intelligence operations, but the budget figure for each of eight intelligence agencies should be made public, former White House aide and National Security Council staffer Morton Halperin told the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday.
The committee is trying to determine whether any part of the nation's intelligence operations budget, now kept secret and hidden in other department's appropriation bills, should be made public.
The committee is not expected seriously to consider making public any more than overall figure for the intelligence community. Central Intelligence Agency Director Stansfield Turner told the committee Wednesday that President Carter would agree to making public an overall figure.
But former CIA directors have contended that making known the overall figure would only lead to demands for more details and figures and not satisfy anybody.
Halperin agreed that releasing one figure would lead to demands for releasing others, but added, "In my view, they should release much more."
Halperin was a National Security Council staffer during the Nison administration. Because he suspected Halperin of leaks to the press, then Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had his phone line tapped. Halperin is now the director of a project on national security and civil liberties for the Center for National Security Studies, a Washington-based think task.
Though the former CIA directors and others contended that releasing figures for individual agencies would tell foreign intelligence analysts much about our intelligence operations Halperin contended that isn't so.
"An increase in the CIA budget would not tell you whether the increase was for spying or research or for technological development," Halperin said. "I think the public is entitled to know and it could be reveald thout revealing secrets."
The eight agencies are the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, Energy Research and Development Intelligence, the State Department Intelligence Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and the Secret Service.
Common Cause, in a letter to the committee, agreed with Halperin, but Gen. Daniel Graham, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and David Atlee Phillips, president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, disagreed.
"The problem with releasing a total figure is that it doesn't stop there," Graham contended. He also said that even component agency figures could be misleading, because the Defense Department, for example, could simply "turn all DIA sorces back to the branches and let you find them." They could comply take "all reconnaissance" out of their budgets. Figures would lead to "nothing but confusion," Graham said.
Phillips argued that the CIA has been "too open" in recent years and disclosure would help our adversaries.
Two law school professors told the committee it is unconstitutional to keep intelligence budgets secret, but a third wasn't sure.
Ralph Spritzer, University of Pennsylvania law school professor, and Thomas Emerson Yale law school professor, said Article I of the Constitution demands a regular accounting of all public money to be published, and makes no exceptions.
Gerhard Casper, University of Chicago law professor, said he doubted and makes no exceptions.
It has been estimated that the nation's whole intelligence operation costs from $4 billion to $7 billion and $750 million for the CIA.