Official reveals $44 billion budget for U.S. intelligence

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mary Margaret Graham, the deputy director for national intelligence collection and a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, revealed the annual budget for U.S. intelligence: $44 billion. The apparent slip occurred during a talk Graham was giving at a San Antonio conference on Oct. 31. The disclosure of the number, reported in the Nov. 14th issue of U.S. News and World Report, marked the first time the figure has been revealed since 1998, when the figure was almost half its current figure, at $26.7 billion.

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists and a secrecy expert, and his group have led efforts to sue for the disclosure of the budget on four different occasions. He relayed in an interview that this is only the third time since 1947 (the year of the CIA's inception) that the intelligence community has revealed its spending. In 1997, George Tenet, then the director of the CIA, compelled by the lawsuit brought by Aftergood's group under the Freedom of Information Act, made public that year's budget: $26.6 billion. The budget was again revealed in the following year, but in 1999, Tenet reversed the policy, and budgets have since remained classified with support from the courts.

Currently, the Senate has signed off on a provision presented by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that would strip the security clearances of any government official, including those in Congress and on House and Senate staffs, who intentionally discloses national security secrets. A request for a roll call vote was avoided when senators Lautenberg and John Warner (R-VA) compromised, and instead, an unusual parliamentary procedure called a "standing division" was implemented to approve the addition of the provision to the defense bill. Senator Lautenberg could still have requested the "yeas and nays" -- a roll call vote. In this procedure, senators in the chamber at the time rise to denote approval. The Associated Press reports that Democrats accused the Republican refusal of a roll call vote to be a reflection that they did not want to go on record in favor of the provision, while the Republicans blamed time constraints and said that they did not want to inconvenience senators preparing to leave town for Veterans' Day.