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Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues

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Congressional rept.

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Although the United States Intelligence Community encompasses large Federal agencies -- the Central Intelligence Agency CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency DIA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency NGA, and the National Security Agency NSA -- among others, neither Congress nor the executive branch has regularly made public the total extent of intelligence spending. Rather, intelligence programs and personnel are largely contained, but not identified, within the capacious budget of the Department of Defense DoD. This practice has long been criticized by proponents of open government and many argue that the end of the Cold War has long since removed any justification for secret budgets. In 2004, the 911 Commission recommended that the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret. From the creation of the modern U.S. Intelligence Community in the late 1940s, Congress and the executive branch shared a determination to keep intelligence spending secret. Proponents of this practice have argued that disclosures of major changes in intelligence spending from one year to the next would provide hostile parties with information on new programs or cutbacks that could be exploited to U.S. disadvantage. Secondly, they believe that it would be practically impossible to limit disclosure to total figures and that explanations of what is included or excluded would lead to damaging revelations. On the other hand, some Members dispute these arguments, stressing the positive effects of open government and the distortions of budget information that occur when the budgets of large agencies are classified. Legislation reported by the Senate Intelligence Committee in May 2006 S. 3237 would require that funding for the National Intelligence Program i.e., CIA, DIA, NSA, et al. be made public, but it does not address other intelligence activities.

Subject Categories:

  • Information Science
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Intelligence

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