Edward Snowden has once again released crucial documents showing the United States efforts to spy on citizens from around the world. This time the leak shows the astonishing $52.6 billion dollar price tag for PRISM and other connected programs.
A release is offered in a presentation that breaks down the black budget into different agencies, showing who got what and for what purposes. It also shows who spends the most money based on the five main agencies and other departments, what categories take the most money, the thirty-two different types of spending, and accompanies a leak of 178 pages of documents offering more details.
This black budget leak was pretty much wide reaching with no concern for filters. But The Washington Post agreed not to publish all information, due to ongoing missions and covert actions that could put agents and cases at risk. Only the summary has been posted, but it is enough to give quite a look at operations.
From the breakdown, the CIA has the largest portion of the budget at $14.7 billion. This is followed by the NSA at $10.8 billion, the Rational Reconnaissance Office at $10.3 billion, and the rest is split between various agencies like the National Geospatial Intelligence Program, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.
Of the four main spending categories between those agencies, the largest is data collection expenses, followed by management facilities and support, data processing and exploitation, and then data analysis, the smallest of all spending allocation.
While many revelations have come from these documents, a few key elements are of special note.
For example, the CIA and NSA have teamed up to start working more aggressively in the area of cyber warfare. They are putting considerable money and manpower into hacking foreign computers, sabotaging programs and devices, and spying through technological means. Those who remember the mysterious worms and viruses that were showing up on computers in places like Iran won’t be especially surprised to realize the US was probably behind it.
Another interesting tidbit is the fact that thousand of moles are suspected to be contained within the agencies themselves. Those moles are believed to be leaking information to enemy and outside forces, and are current under investigation. There are more than 4,000 currently listed as suspects.
One more alarming fact is about North Korea. As it turns out, the intelligence community is lost when it comes to the new leader Kim Jong-Un and his regime. There are significant gaps in our knowledge about their capabilities and the plans Jong-Un might have for the future. Showing that the Communist nation’s attempts to remain secretive have been a success.
Perhaps the biggest revelation comes not from the data itself, but in a warning offered in the documents by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr.
“Never before has the IC been called upon to master such complexity and so many issues in such a resource-constrained environment,” he said, speaking of the many risks and threats that come from all over the world in different areas. There are so many angles to watch that they “virtually defy rank-ordering.”
For me, the craziest fact is that of all of the agencies, the one that has the most funding and power appears to be the CIA.
Always controversial and somewhat frightening, the agency had a ton of power in the past. But after September 11, where they failed to learn of and stop the attacks, support had waned from government officials for the department. At least, that was the assumption.
This new budget exposes the fallacy of those beliefs. Not only did they recover, but they grew to become even more prominent in the intelligence community than the NSA. It would seem that it might be them that hold most of the cards when it comes of PRISM and other surveillance efforts.
What has always bothered me in the back of my mind since Snowden first came forward isn’t just the spying itself, or the fact that it includes citizens. It is the reason why it is happening in the first place. It is true that 9/11 changed a great deal in terms of security procedure and national spying policy.
But the scope of this, the sheer level of control that is being held by these agencies, and the lack of knowledge from the very people who should have been overseeing and (let’s be honest) keeping it under wraps is amazing. How much fear does there have to be to launch a program of this magnitude? How intense is the risk if other countries, such as the UK and France, have started their own?
Welcome to the questions that will be brought up as we move forward from here. The answers are sure to be even more terrifying then what prompted them in the first place.
Source: Washington Post