The United States spent $75.4 billion on its military and civilian spy agencies in the last fiscal year, according to officially released and incomplete budget records.
The US intelligence budget includes the Military Intelligence Program, which cost $21.5 billion in 2012, and the National Intelligence Program (NIP), which includes agencies like the CIA and NSA and which cost $53.9 billion.
The NIP budget started being publicly disclosed only in 2007, and every year since the budget has risen. But for 2012, the budget was $700 million lower than 2011.
The government only agrees to release the “top-line” or totals of the budgets, claiming that releasing any more details would provide potential adversaries (namely, American citizens) with too much information.
“Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified NIP budget information because such disclosures could harm national security,” said the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
In fact, the intelligence community had for years said disclosing even the “top-line” numbers would be harmful to national security. And now that they have been forced to disclose that – without any harm to national security – they claim any more would be dangerous.
The real danger for them is to have their budgets talked about too publicly, especially in a political environment of cutting budgets and deficits. If the public know too much about America’s overly interventionist, abusive, extra-legal, and increasingly para-military spy agencies, they might demand cuts. Therefore, goes the thinking, as much information as possible has to be kept from them.