OCTOBER 29, 2010
Now that that the U.S. government has revealed that it spent an astounding $80.1 billion last year on intelligence the veteran lawmaker responsible for oversight of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies vows to cut waste.
This may cause some Americans to wonder what California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and her colleagues on the panel have been doing. While the nation’s intelligence gathering budget has surged drastically, the committee has evidently failed to scrutinize the numbers.
Perhaps that’s because the official figures have not been available to the public for more than a decade because U.S. intelligence agencies have long argued that disclosing their budget appropriations would compromise national security and jeopardize sources. However, this week the government decided to share with taxpayers that in the fiscal year that just ended, more than $80 billion went to intelligence. That means the intelligence budget has doubled since 2001 and practically tripled in the last 12 years.
The figure exceeds the fiscal 2011 budget for the Department of Homeland Security ($44 billion) and the Justice Department ($29.2 billion) combined. Feinstein, who also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly threatened to “carefully” review the intelligence budget and “identify and remove any waste and unnecessary duplication.” She added that intelligence spending has “blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade.”
The nation’s 16 intelligence agencies include the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which serves the Pentagon. Feinstein’s committee is charged with providing vigilant legislative oversight over all of the agencies’ activities and assuring that they conform to U.S. laws. Now word on what the 2011 intelligence budget might be.
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