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Report: US Spying Is Costly But Often Ineffective

Aug. 29, 2013 - 03:10PM   |  
By TOM VANDEN BROOK   |   Comments
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WASHINGTON — The US government will spend $52 billion on intelligence programs this year but often fails to provide the president with information needed to protect national security, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The Post’s story is based on the intelligence community’s secret budget, which it obtained from Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who has leaked information on the nation’s most secretive spy agencies and their programs.

The paper withheld detail from the 178-page budget at the request of the government, which said it could expose key sources. Overall spending on intelligence budgets has been made public for years, but the details of the spending plan have been a closely held secret.

The budget discloses “blind spots” for the spy agencies that include some of the top national security concerns, including the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons components, the capability of China’s warplanes and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Among the budget highlights of the budget, per the Post:

■ The CIA and NSA have launched offensive cyber operations to hack into foreign computer networks systems to steal secrets and commit sabotage. USA Today has reported on the military’s efforts to develop offensive cyber abilities, including the capability to knock off an adversary’s computer networks.

■ The CIA is the intelligence community’s top dog, spending $14 billion, half again as much as the NSA, the top eavesdropping agency.

■ The NSA planned to investigate 4,000 “insider threats” in which one of the agency’s own, like Snowden, divulged secrets.

Vanden Brook is a reporter for USA Today.

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