Excerpts from a major Washington Post article:
U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary
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 the money or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress…
View select pages from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s top-secret 2013 budget with key sections annotated by The Washington Post…
Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:
●Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency [emphasis added], with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.
●The CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.”
●Long before Snowden’s leaks, the U.S. intelligence community worried about “anomalous behavior” by employees and contractors with access to classified material. The NSA planned to ward off a “potential insider compromise of sensitive information” by re-investigating at least 4,000 people this year who hold high-level security clearances.
●U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in friends as well as foes. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.” The latter is a U.S. ally but has a history of espionage attempts against the United States.
●In words, deeds and dollars, intelligence agencies remain fixed on terrorism as the gravest threat to national security, which is listed first among five “mission objectives.” Counterterrorism programs employ one in four members of the intelligence workforce and account for one-third of the intelligence program’s 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 CIA’s dominant position is likely to 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 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 [see also: '“Summary Execution” via Drone: US Military, Not CIA, Part 3'; "US Intelligence Eyes off the Ball, Droning to Excess–and Who Should Operate Them"] and a huge expansion of its counterterrorism center. The agency was transformed from a spy service struggling to emerge from the Cold War into a paramilitary force [emphasis added, see also "A Less “Kinetic” CIA under Brennan?"].
…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.”..
Across this catalogue of technical prowess, one category is depicted as particularly indispensable: signals intelligence, or SIGINT [emphasis added]…
The resources devoted to signals intercepts are extraordinary.
Nearly 35,000 employees are listed under a category called the Consolidated Cryptologic Program, which includes the NSA as well as the surveillance and code-breaking components of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.
The NSA is planning high-risk covert missions, a lesser-known part of its work, to plant what it calls “tailored radio frequency solutions” — close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.
Even the CIA devotes $1.7 billion, or nearly 12 percent of its budget, to technical collection efforts, including a joint program with the NSA called “CLANSIG,” a covert program to intercept radio and telephone communications from hostile territory [see also: "CIA Black-Bagging it For NSA"]…
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Insti