Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues Page: 2 of 46
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Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues
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 9/11 Commission recommended that
"the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its
component agencies should no longer be kept secret."
The Constitution mandates regular statements and accounts of expenditures, but
the courts have regarded the Congress as having the power to define the meaning of
the clause. 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 program 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 has been twice enacted
expressing the "sense of the Congress" that total intelligence spending figures should be
made public, but on several separate occasions both the House and the Senate have voted
against making such information public. The Clinton Administration released total
appropriations figures for intelligence and intelligence-related activities for fiscal years
1997 and 1998, but subsequently such numbers have not been made public. Legal efforts
to force release of intelligence spending figures have been unsuccessful.
Central to consideration of the issue is the composition of the "intelligence
budget." Intelligence authorization bills have included not just the "National
Intelligence Program"-the budgets for CIA, DIA, NSA et al, but also a wide variety
of other intelligence and intelligence-related efforts conducted by the Defense
Department. Shifts of tactical programs into or out of the total intelligence budgets
have hitherto been important only to budget analysts; disclosing total intelligence
budgets could make such transfers matters of concern to a far larger audience.
Legislation reported by the Senate Intelligence Committee in May 2006 (S. 3237)
would require that funding for the National Intelligence Program be made public but
it does not address other intelligence activities. Earlier versions of this Report were
entitled Intelligence Spending: Should Total Amounts Be Made Public? This report
will be updated as circumstances change.
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Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues, report, September 25, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821885/m1/2/: accessed January 17, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.