In 2013, U.S. Spent $52.6 Billion in Taxpayer Dollars on Spying

NSA's domestic spying operation

By Michael Kelley

The Washington Post has published the U.S. intelligence community's top-secret "black budget" after obtaining it from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

"This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available," Steven Aftergood, an expert at the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington, D.C., organization that provides analyses of national security issues, told the Post.

The budget of $52.6 billion -- which don't include funding for intelligence gathering by the military -- is located in the summary of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's multivolume fiscal year 2013 Congressional Budget Justification.

Barton Gelmman and Greg Miller note that the 178-budget summary "maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny," adding that it "details the successes, failures and objectives" of the 17 U.S. spy agencies.

Revelations reported by the Post include:

  • The CIA requested $14.7 billion in funding for 2013 -- 28 percent of the total IC budget -- which is more than any other spy agency and $4.2 billion more than the NSA's projected funding.

  • Some counterintelligence operations "are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel," according to the budget.

  • In 2013 U.S. spy agencies were projected to spend $4.9 billion on what are labeled "overseas contingency operations," with the CIA accounting for about half of that.

  • The NSA was projected to spend $48.6 million on research projects to assist "coping with information overload," which makes sense given that the NSA reportedly has access to 75 percent of U.S. Internet traffic.

  • The governments of Iran, China, Russia, North Korea are difficult to penetrate. The Post writes that 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."

Here's how the $52.6 billion breaks down as "Mission Objectives":

From The Post:

In constant dollars, [the 2013 budget] was roughly twice the estimated size of the 2001 budget and 25 percent above that of 2006, five years into what was then known as the "global war on terror."

Here's the breakdown of the intelligence community (IC) workforce, which has 107,035 employees:

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