Wednesday, November 10, 2010

U.S. Gov't Reveals Spending $80 Billion on Spying

by Gene Clancy
Published Nov 7, 2010 11:30 PM

On Oct. 28 the U.S. government revealed it spent $80 billion on intelligence for fiscal year 2010. That’s more than the $53 billion the government spent on the Department of Homeland Security or the $30 billion spent by the Justice Department, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Of the $80 billion, $53 billion went to so-called “civilian” agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, and $27 billion went to the Department of Defense, of which $3.5 billion was spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The $80 billion allotment is about the same as the total budget for the Department of Health and Human Services. Unlike the intelligence agencies, HHS must account for every penny spent. Until Oct. 28 the intelligence agencies did not even have to reveal the total amount of funds they spent.

The revelation was outrageous enough to provoke a lame response from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which sets the intelligence budget and oversees policy.

“It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,” said Feinstein. She admitted that the total intelligence budget has doubled since 2001. (Associated Press, Oct. 28) During this entire time, Feinstein was either the chairperson or the ranking leader of the committee, which is given regular briefings about all spending.

The government has voluntarily revealed the total intelligence budget only twice before, in 1997 and 1998 in response to a lawsuit. Then it was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively, showing that the total intelligence budget has tripled in 12 years. No details of how the money was spent have ever been revealed; the government cites “national security” as the reason.

In addition to its usual skullduggery, intelligence agency activities include such crimes as dropping assassination drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan and so-called “rendering” operations where suspects, more often than not ordinary citizens, are kidnapped and secretly flown to foreign locations where they are tortured.

Military budget cover-up

Since the war in Vietnam, U.S. budget planners have devised a number of accounting tricks to hide the true costs of the many wars and interventions they have conducted. During the Bush administration, the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were taken out of the budget altogether.

While the Obama administration has put the costs of these wars back into the budget, it persists in other misleading practices. One of the main techniques is to meld Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs into the overall budget to make it appear that social services, not military spending, make up the largest share. Thus in the 2009 federal budget, Medicare and Social Security were shown as constituting 39 percent of the budget, while defense was pegged at 23 percent. (

This covers up the fact that Social Security and Medicare are self-contained, self-supporting programs, overwhelmingly paid for by taxes from working people. Unfortunately, recent administrations have regularly raided these funds to pay for their many wars and interventions.

An honest presentation of the federal budget, which includes the costs of past wars, including debt service and veterans’ benefits, and excludes Social Security and Medicare, would show military spending as constituting 54 percent of the budget and human services as a mere 30 percent. (

In 2009, 85 percent of federal tax receipts came from Social Security, Medicare and individual income taxes. A mere 7 percent were from corporate income taxes. The progressive movement must demand an end to the robbery of poor and working people to pay for illegal spying and murderous wars.
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