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Old 08-30-2013
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Default Secret intelligence budget shows magnitude of U.S. spying operations

$52-billion “black budget” for 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.
By: Barton Gellman Greg Miller The Washington Post, Published on Thu Aug 29 2013

WASHINGTON—U.S. spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government’s top secret budget.

The $52.6-billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.

Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against goals set by the president and Congress.

The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.

The summary describes cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations. The Washington Post is withholding some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods.

“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 cyberwarfare,” national intelligence director James Clapper said in response to inquiries from The Post.

“Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter threats,” he said.

Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:

Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 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, 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, what the budget calls “offensive cyber operations.”

The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own.

U.S. 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 national security. 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 U.S. intelligence about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, and analysts know virtually nothing about the intentions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of individual surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes. They are organized around five priorities: combating terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear and other unconventional weapons, warning U.S. leaders about critical events overseas, defending against foreign espionage, and conducting cyber operations.

The summary provides a detailed look at how the U.S. intelligence community has been reconfigured by the massive infusion of resources that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. The United States has spent more than $500 billion on intelligence during that period, an outlay that officials say has succeeded in its main objective: preventing another catastrophic terrorist attack in the U.S.

The result is an espionage empire with resources and reach beyond those of any adversary, sustained even now by spending that rivals or exceeds the levels reached at the height of the Cold War.

Experts said that access to such details on U.S. spy programs is unprecedented.

“It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007,” said Steven Aftergood, an expert at the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington organization that analyzes national security issues. “But a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”

CIA rising

The CIA’s dominant position will likely stun outside experts. It represents a remarkable recovery for an agency that seemed poised to lose power and prestige after acknowledging intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The surge in resources for the agency funded secret prisons, a controversial interrogation program, the deployment of lethal drones and a huge expansion of its counterterrorism centre. The agency was transformed from a spy service struggling to emerge from the Cold War into a paramilitary force.

The CIA has devoted billions of dollars to recruiting and training a new generation of case officers, with the workforce growing from about 17,000 a decade ago to 21,575 this year.

The agency’s budget allocates $2.3 billion for human intelligence operations, and another $2.5 billion to cover the cost of supporting the security, logistics and other needs of those missions around the world. A relatively small amount of that total, $68.6 million, was earmarked for creating and maintaining “cover,” the false identities employed by operatives overseas.

There is no specific entry for the CIA’s fleet of armed drones in the budget summary, but a broad line item hints at the dimensions of the agency’s expanded paramilitary role, providing more than $2.6 billion for “covert action programs” that would include drone operations in Pakistan and Yemen, payments to militias in Afghanistan and Africa, and attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

Blind spots

Despite the vast outlays, the budget blueprint catalogues persistent, and in some cases critical, blind spots. Throughout the document, U.S. spy agencies attempt to rate their efforts, generally citing progress but often acknowledging that only a fraction of their questions could be answered.

In 2011, the budget assessment says intelligence agencies made at least “moderate progress” on 38 of their 50 top counterterrorism gaps, the term used to describe blind spots. Several concern Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, an enemy of Israel that has not attacked U.S. interests directly since the 1990s.

Other blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next -generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond “to potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.”

A chart outlining efforts to address key questions on biological and chemical weapons is particularly bleak. U.S. agencies set themselves annual goals of making progress in at least five categories of intelligence collection related to these weapons. In 2011, the agencies made headway on just two gaps; a year earlier the mark was zero.

The intelligence community seems particularly daunted by the emergence of “homegrown” terrorists who plan attacks in the U.S. without direct support or instruction from abroad — a threat realized this year, after the budget was submitted, in the Boston Marathon bombings.

High-tech spying

The documents make clear that U.S. spy agencies’ long-standing reliance on technology remains intact. If anything, their dependence on high-tech surveillance systems to fill gaps in human intelligence has only intensified.

A section on North Korea indicates that the United States has all but surrounded the nuclear-armed country with surveillance platforms. There are distant ground sensors to monitor seismic activity and platforms to scan the country for signs that might point to construction of new nuclear sites. U.S. agencies seek to capture photos, air samples and infrared imagery “around the clock.”

In Syria, NSA listening posts were able to monitor unencrypted communications among senior military officials at the outset of the civil war there.

The agency has also deployed new biometric sensors to confirm the identities and locations of Al Qaeda operatives. The system has been used in the CIA’s drone campaign.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/20...perations.html
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