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Snowden reveals US intelligence’s black budget: $52.6 billion on secret programs

000_was225553[1]courtesy rt.com – Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has leaked a new top-secret document that for the first time ever publically discloses how the United States spends tens of billions of dollars annually on clandestine spy programs.

The Washington Post revealed the so-called “black budget” on  Thursday and reports that $52.6 billion was set aside for  operations in fiscal year 2013.

Among the biggest priorities for the intelligence community, the  Post reported, are “offensive cyber operations” and  research devoted to decoding encrypted communications.

The Post’s Barton Gellman, Greg Miller and Julie Tate wrote  Thursday that Mr. Snowden, the 30-year-old former Booz Allen  Hamilton staffer who started leaking classified national security  documents earlier this year, provided the paper with the  never-before published summary of this year’s budget.

But although the Post reported that the document is 178 pages in  length, they have at the same time elected to only make available  one-tenth of the content, citing “concerns about the risk to  intelligence sources and methods” brought up by US officials  who were notified ahead of publication.

FY 2013 Congressional Budget  Justification, provided by Washington Post 

Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that the  Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online,”  the paper wrote in the article that accompanies the 17-page  selection. The document is labeled “top secret” and warns  that it is only to be accessed by US citizens with the proper  security clearance.

Shrouded in secrecy, the amount that Uncle Sam sets aside for  sensitive operations each year is not allowed to be published for  eyes outside of the intelligence community and only for a portion  of those briefed on its operations. The latest Snowden leak  reveals that at $52.6 billion, the government is actually handing  out 2.3 percent fewer than it did in fiscal year 2012 and,  additionally, sequestration has caused the agencies to shed 1,241  positions, or around one percent of its workforce. Despite these  setbacks, though, the budget, described by the Post as “a  bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been  subject to public scrutiny,” includes billions of dollars  towards operations that may not be funded if debated in the  press.

Edward SnowdenEdward Snowden (AFP Photo / The Guardian)

In comparison, the Department of Homeland Security was allocated  $55.4 billion in FY2013. The black budget comes in at a figure  larger than the sums received by the Department of the Interior,  the Department of Commerce and NASA this year combined.

Yet despite the hefty cost of operating the secret operations  amid sequestration, excerpts from the summary leaked by Snowden  show that the US still has significant setbacks keeping it from  achieving its intelligence goals.

For one, the disclosure in and of itself demonstrates the  intelligence community’s inability to prevent sensitive  information from being leaked.

In FY2013, the budget summary says the government invested in  ramping-up its counterintelligence operations at a time when  budget cuts led to reductions in the community’s workforce,  operations, long-term investments, infrastructure and information  technology sectors.

To further safeguard our classified networks, we continue to  strengthen insider threat detection capabilities across the  community,” the document reads.

As the Post reported, however, the implementation of any insider  threat program came too late to catch Snowden, who began mining  for documents while employed as a contractor for Dell Inc in May  2012. Snowden began work at Dell in 2009 and it is not  immediately clear what security clearance he had before or during  the time he started scouring networks for documents, but the Post  article claims “a major counterintelligence initiative”  budgeted for FY2012 saw its own resources slashed after an  “all-hands, emergency response” was ordered to deal with  the disclosures then being published by the anti-secrecy group  WikiLeaks.

The Post cites an excerpt from this year’s budget where it’s  noted that programs are being implemented to “mitigate insider  threats by trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized  access to sensitive information to harm US interests.”  Although Snowden’s disclosures — including this one — demonstrate  that the $3.64 billion set aside to “integrate  counterintelligence” in FY2013 could have likely benefited the  intelligence community had it come sooner.

According to one graph included in the document, roughly 39  percent of this year’s black budget was set aside for providing  strategic intelligence and warning, with around one-third going  towards combating violent extremism. Counter weapons  proliferation received 13 percent of total funding, and enhancing  cybersecurity and integrating counterintelligence were allotted 8  and 7 percent, respectively.

More broadly speaking, Central Intelligence Agency programs were  awarded 28 percent of the total $52.6 billion — or around $14.7  billion, with the Consolidated Cryptologic Program receiving the  second most funding with roughly $11 billion. The Post reports  that that program includes the National Security Agency on the  division of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines that involves  conducting surveillance and breaking and decrypting codes.

We are bolstering our support for clandestine SIGINT [signals  intelligence] capabilities to collect against high priority  targets, including foreign leadership targets,” DNI Clapper  says in the summary. “Also, we are investing in groundbreaking  cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and  exploit Internet traffic.”

Approached by the Post for comment before Thursday’s publication,  Clapper said, “The United States has made a considerable  investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks  of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the  Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction  technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as  cyber-warfare.”

Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for  foreign intelligence services to discern our top national  priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to  obtain information to counter threats,” he added.

Through previous disclosures attributed to Snowden, though, the  American public has learned that the NSA programs launched to  collect foreign intelligence has allowed the federal government  to sweep up personal and private information pertaining to  Americans who are guaranteed constitution protection from such  surveillance.

At the same time, the targeting of foreign persons of interest  has apparently suffered significant losses as of late with  regards to the intelligence community’s aspirations. The document  claims that counterintelligence initiatives are being ramped up  against “key targets” including China, Russia, Iran,  Israel, Pakistan and Cuba, but the Post reported that five  “critical” gaps currently exist keeping the US from  collecting as much as it would like on North Korea.

Analysts know virtually nothing about the intentions of North  Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” the Post reported, adding that  those critical gaps have given America the inability to properly  assess the nuclear and missile programs masterminded from  Pyongyang.

Elsewhere, though, the reporters say that other parts of the  budget suggest North Korea is anything but an active target.

A section on North Korea indicates that the United States has  all but surrounded the nuclear-armed country with surveillance  platforms,” the paper reported. “There are distant ground  sensors to monitor seismic activity and scan the country for  signs that might point to construction of new nuclear sites. US  agencies seek to capture photos, air samples and infrared imagery  ‘around the clock.’”

12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;”>
Congressional Budget Justification on Scribd” href=”http://www.scribd.com/doc/164056434”  style=”text-decoration: underline;” >FY 2013
Congressional Budget Justification</a></p>

Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that the  Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online,”  the paper wrote in the article that accompanies the 17-page  selection. The document is labeled “top secret” and warns  that it is only to be accessed by US citizens with the proper  security clearance.

Shrouded in secrecy, the amount that Uncle Sam sets aside for  sensitive operations each year is not allowed to be published for  eyes outside of the intelligence community and only for a portion  of those briefed on its operations. The latest Snowden leak  reveals that at $52.6 billion, the government is actually handing  out 2.3 percent fewer than it did in fiscal year 2012 and,  additionally, sequestration has caused the agencies to shed 1,241  positions, or around one percent of its workforce. Despite these  setbacks, though, the budget, described by the Post as “a  bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been  subject to public scrutiny,” includes billions of dollars  towards operations that may not be funded if debated in the  press.

In comparison, the Department of Homeland Security was allocated  $55.4 billion in FY2013. The black budget comes in at a figure  larger than the sums received by the Department of the Interior,  the Department of Commerce and NASA this year combined.

Yet despite the hefty cost of operating the secret operations  amid sequestration, excerpts from the summary leaked by Snowden  show that the US still has significant setbacks keeping it from  achieving its intelligence goals.

For one, the disclosure in and of itself demonstrates the  intelligence community’s inability to prevent sensitive  information from being leaked.

In FY2013, the budget summary says the government invested in  ramping-up its counterintelligence operations at a time when  budget cuts led to reductions in the community’s workforce,  operations, long-term investments, infrastructure and information  technology sectors.

To further safeguard our classified networks, we continue to  strengthen insider threat detection capabilities across the  community,” the document reads.

As the Post reported, however, the implementation of any insider  threat program came too late to catch Snowden, who began mining  for documents while employed as a contractor for Dell Inc in May  2012. Snowden began work at Dell in 2009 and it is not  immediately clear what security clearance he had before or during  the time he started scouring networks for documents, but the Post  article claims “a major counterintelligence initiative”  budgeted for FY2012 saw its own resources slashed after an  “all-hands, emergency response” was ordered to deal with  the disclosures then being published by the anti-secrecy group  WikiLeaks.

The Post cites an excerpt from this year’s budget where it’s  noted that programs are being implemented to “mitigate insider  threats by trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized  access to sensitive information to harm US interests.”  Although Snowden’s disclosures — including this one — demonstrate  that the $3.64 billion set aside to “integrate  counterintelligence” in FY2013 could have likely benefited the  intelligence community had it come sooner.

According to one graph included in the document, roughly 39  percent of this year’s black budget was set aside for providing  strategic intelligence and warning, with around one-third going  towards combating violent extremism. Counter weapons  proliferation received 13 percent of total funding, and enhancing  cybersecurity and integrating counterintelligence were allotted 8  and 7 percent, respectively.

More broadly speaking, Central Intelligence Agency programs were  awarded 28 percent of the total $52.6 billion — or around $14.7  billion, with the Consolidated Cryptologic Program receiving the  second most funding with roughly $11 billion. The Post reports  that that program includes the National Security Agency on the  division of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines that involves  conducting surveillance and breaking and decrypting codes.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

We are bolstering our support for clandestine SIGINT [signals  intelligence] capabilities to collect against high priority  targets, including foreign leadership targets,” DNI Clapper  says in the summary. “Also, we are investing in groundbreaking  cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and  exploit Internet traffic.”

Approached by the Post for comment before Thursday’s publication,  Clapper said, “The United States has made a considerable  investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks  of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the  Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction  technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as  cyber-warfare.”

Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for  foreign intelligence services to discern our top national  priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to  obtain information to counter threats,” he added.

Through previous disclosures attributed to Snowden, though, the  American public has learned that the NSA programs launched to  collect foreign intelligence has allowed the federal government  to sweep up personal and private information pertaining to  Americans who are guaranteed constitution protection from such  surveillance.

At the same time, the targeting of foreign persons of interest  has apparently suffered significant losses as of late with  regards to the intelligence community’s aspirations. The document  claims that counterintelligence initiatives are being ramped up  against “key targets” including China, Russia, Iran,  Israel, Pakistan and Cuba, but the Post reported that five  “critical” gaps currently exist keeping the US from  collecting as much as it would like on North Korea.

Analysts know virtually nothing about the intentions of North  Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” the Post reported, adding that  those critical gaps have given America the inability to properly  assess the nuclear and missile programs masterminded from  Pyongyang.

Elsewhere, though, the reporters say that other parts of the  budget suggest North Korea is anything but an active target.

A section on North Korea indicates that the United States has  all but surrounded the nuclear-armed country with surveillance  platforms,” the paper reported. “There are distant ground  sensors to monitor seismic activity and scan the country for  signs that might point to construction of new nuclear sites. US  agencies seek to capture photos, air samples and infrared imagery  ‘around the clock.’”

And for those nations of upmost interest, the intelligence  community is investing heavily on “offensive cyber  operations” launched by the CIA and NSA to hack foreign  competitors, steal data and sabotage servers. The Post neglected  to publish any excerpts from the summary detailing to what degree  the intelligence community has been engaging in these strategic  hacks, saying only that recently launched efforts are more  “aggressive” than before. As RT has reported extensively  in the past, the US government has been accused of being the  biggest hackers on the planet at a time when,  domestically, so-called cybercriminals are prosecuted at an  alarming rate for comparably less harsh crimes.

Last week, RT reported that hacker and political activist Jeremy  Hammond of Chicago, Illinois will soon be sentenced for his  admitted role in aiding with malicious campaigns targeting the  California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, computer  servers used by various New York State police chiefs and a  company that provides munitions used to gas protesters in Egypt,  among others. According to a letter written by Hammond from a New York City jail  cell, the US government used a confidential informant within the  hacktivist groups Anonymous and LulzSec “to facilitate the  hacking of targets of the government’s choosing – including  numerous websites belonging to foreign governments.”

Why was the United States using us to infiltrate the private  networks of foreign governments? What are they doing with the  information we stole? And will anyone in our government ever be  held accountable for these crimes?” Hammond asked.

Thank you, TiA

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