Snowden Leaks Reveal Black Budget of US Spy Networks

Snowden Leaks Reveal Black Budget of US Spy Networks

Ever heard of the United States’ “black budget?” Honestly, I hadn’t until former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden decided to go public with all kinds of “secretive” government information. The Washington Post actually got a copy of this 178-page, $52.6 billion “black budget” for the fiscal 2013 that details the objectives, success and failures of 16 spy agencies with a total of approximately 107,035 employees.

To put this “black budget” into perspective, if all 107,035 employees were paid the exact same salary from this $52.6 billion, each employee would bring in an approximate yearly salary of $491,428 and some change. Now, in my opinion, that’s big “bucks” for some meniscal returns on investment!

You see, since the September 11th incident of 2001, U.S. spy agencies have not really been able to provide earth-shattering information to combat the range of security threats that the U.S. faces, according to this top secret budget. But, what this budget does describe is cutting-edge technologies, like weapons of mass destruction, agent recruiting and ongoing operations, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cyberwarefare.

Although The Washington Post must withhold some of the budget’s information, due to sensitive details that could give foreign intelligence insight into the U.S.’s priorities, sources and methods, some notable revelations were found:

  • The CIA requested a $14.7 billion budget for 2013, more than another other spy agency;
  • The CIA and NSA plan to aggressively hack into foreign computer networks to steal information and/or sabotage enemy systems;
  • Pakistan is described as an “intractable target;”
  • Counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel;”
  • NSA plans to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013;
  • Intelligence agencies are fixed on terrorism as the biggest threat to national security;
  • Iran, Russian and Chinese governments are difficult to penetrate;
  • U.S. intelligence about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs has five “critical” gaps; and
  • North Korea’s government is the most transparent, yet the U.S. doesn’t know hardly anything about the intentions of Kim Jong Un.

As if this isn't eye opening enough, for an interactive, graphic representation of the “black budget,” click here.


About the Author

Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.

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