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Annual US Intelligence Bill Tops $80 Billion

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the annual-US-stupidity-bill-much-higher dept.

Government 230

Ponca City writes "The LA Times reports that the US government has disclosed its annual intel budget for the first time in more than a decade: $80.1 billion on intelligence gathering, representing about 12% of the nation's $664-billion defense budget. The government revealed the total intelligence budget twice before, in 1997 and 1998, in response to a lawsuit. It was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively, meaning the budget has tripled in 12 years. 'It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,' says Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dana Priest reported that more than 1,200 government agencies or offices and almost 2,000 outside contractors are involved in counter-terrorism activities, producing about 50,000 intelligence reports each year, far more than the government can effectively digest. The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"

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Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1, Funny)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065044)

Here's what they should do, Take 10 Billion have a massive pizza party for all of the US and then give 20 Billion to Intelligence and put the rest in the economy.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Ancantus (1926920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065074)

That would never work! By the time the senate decides if were getting Marco's or Little Caesars and how much pepperoni they want on their half, we will all be dead of old age.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

big dumb dog (876383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065780)

very funny -- Thanks!

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (4, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065088)

Nah, we should level an American city that isn't being useful anymore and build a waterpark. For future reference, this is the same solution I have proposed to end the israeli-palestinian conflict.

No I don't have a newsletter.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065334)

Agreed. Let's start with Columbus, Ohio.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065348)

No I don't have a newsletter.

What about a Youtube channel?

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065358)

Nah, we should level an American city that isn't being useful anymore.

Washington DC?

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065444)

This must be what's happening to Detroit. The abandoned buildings/homes are reverting to prairie. Very green and progressive of them.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (0, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065768)

You might be onto something there. Maybe the progressive agenda is to destroy cities' economies and cause all businesses to move elsewhere, with high taxes, building up unions and other anti-business policies and then once they are conveniently emptied of people, there will be no more pollution and the nature can take over again. Next on the list, New Jersey and Cleveland.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065742)

Way to scare Detroit.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065898)

Your both wrong there is already obviously a shortage of intelligence in the U.S. They should buy twice as much next year.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065946)

Wow - a water park the size of the District of Columbia! :)

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065102)

Intelligence is expensive to get. It's not like compiling a list of the best Pizzarias in the US, there's a lot of guesswork and probably bribery and extortion involved. Not to mention the cost of maintaining GITMO for however long it is before the Republicans acknowledge that we have to accept at least a few detainees if we want to be rid of the rest.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (3, Insightful)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065406)

"Not to mention the cost of maintaining GITMO for however long it is before the Republicans acknowledge that we have to accept at least a few detainees if we want to be rid of the rest."

Really? This is all the Republicans fault?

Even though we've had a Democrat President since January 20th, 2009 who could end GITMO with the stroke of a pen? (I might remind you also that he campaigned with the promise to do so.)

Even though the Democratic Party took over Congress in November of 2006 and could have ended it's ludicrous existence at any time?

So let me get this straight, even though the Democratic party has had total control of the United States Government, including the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, for almost two years this is somehow a REPUBLICAN issue?

You need to stop shilling for a party and start thinking for yourself. GITMO is an abomination and should be gotten rid of but to blame its continued existence solely on the Republican party is delusional.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065514)

It is a bipartisan issue. Republicans started it, democrats failed to stop it.

If there is anything that the two parties can agree on, it is to lie to the public, to spend lots of money and to hold on to any illegal power that falls into their laps.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (2, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065856)

I am a pretty left-leaning guy, and I am no huge fan of Gitmo, but there is probably a reason that Gitmo still hasn't been closed. After all, President Obama would have really fired up his base going into these midterm elections if he could check off "closed Gitmo" on his list of to-dos. Therefore, I really, honestly believe that there are some really scary things happening at Gitmo with very few horrible, hardcore killers who have been giving up all sorts of useful intelligence but who cannot be tried in a civilian court because they have been endlessly tortured to obtain that information. Senator Obama made his campaign promises to close down Gitmo not knowing the secret horrors and President Obama has to backtrack because he now knows about the shit going on.

I do not like the "national security" thing but this might be one of the cases where it actually is happening.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065864)

Because Gitmo was opened by a Republican president? And any attempt to close it immediately has you branded by the right and Fox News as a friend of terrorists and anti-American? Yes, it is political pandering and constantly watching out for reelections that is behind it but don't think that the responsibility for closing it stops with one party.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065412)

This 80 billion is small compared to how much is spent on Welfare programs like SSI/medicare (1060 billion)

7%.

If we're going to cut cost, eliminating 7% is about as worthless as a "7% off" sale at Walmart. Let's cut the huge expenses, like this pointless war. And slso exclude anyone earning more than 5 million/lifetime from receiving welfare assistance. Those wealthy persons can live off their own resources/personal savings.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065562)

What percentage of welfare recipients have a lifetime earning of over 5 million... If you are not counting corporate entities soaking up kickbacks?

Most people poor enough to need welfare either have always been poor or have recently lost their middle class jobs due to the recession.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065936)

Funny how when someone or their family needs medicare they stop calling it welfare.

80 billion is not a small number, it is pretty huge and every dollar in it means a dollar that isn't going to another need. The biggest problem is that it is all hush-hush so there is little monitoring to control costs or waste and no likelyhood of an impartial public group analyzing it. At least with SSI/Medicare it is on the table and subject to citizen input (a majority of people want it and actually need it). I can't say that about the intelligence feeding trough.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065464)

Intelligence is expensive to get. ... there's a lot of guesswork and probably bribery and extortion involved.

Expensive? If I'm giving out money and then taking money from someone else, and the rest is just guessing, shouldn't I break even?

Hey hedwards,

Here's a dollar for some intel. Now give me a dollar or I'll share that intel. I guess my work here is done!

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065540)

Concur. Boobs are cheap, more easily compilable, less guess work and very good for bribery, extortion and not to bad to maintain by comparison. Since intelligence has failed, boobs are the only option....

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (0, Flamebait)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065126)

Take 10 Billion have a massive pizza party for all of the US

You obviously haven't seen Americans eat...might want to add a significant figure or two.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065288)

Population, United States = 307,006,550 - Jul 2009
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division

10 billion divided by 307,006,550 people = 32.57$USD per person.

Little Caesars 14" Large Pepperoni Pizza [caesarconnect.com] = 5.00$USD.

This means six 14" pepperoni pizzas per person, including children.

You don't have to add a significant figure or two, Murdoch5's numbers were already insulting enough.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065450)

What if somebody wants a side of garlic bread or a large coke?

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065926)

Then they only get four or five 14" pepperoni pizzas instead of six.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (1)

choongiri (840652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065420)

I never thought I'd use WA quite like this, but...

$32.10 per person [wolframalpha.com] will buy you a lot of pizza when you're ordering in bulk. That's about 2 large for every single man, woman, child, and baby in the USA.

Re:Why not just scarp US Intelligence (2, Insightful)

Hankenstein (107201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065484)

Can't we just outsource it? All our other intelligence is outsourced.

Statistics work both ways.... (3, Funny)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065092)

Thanks for posting this. Now we now that Diane Feinstein has no business being on this committee and that James R. Clapper Jr. isn't doing his job either.

Wait a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065178)

Those two helped to rake $80 billion through the business of government. At the top of the pyramid, that's cause for a raise, not a firing. The more cash you control, the better positioned you are to exploit that cash flow for personal gain.

You're not in the business of government, are you?

Re:Statistics work both ways.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065230)

What is your reasoning as to why Feinstein has no business being on this committee?

Re:Statistics work both ways.... (0, Flamebait)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065356)

Isn't it obvious?

OP is a Republican and Feinstein is a Democrat. A California Democrat as well. And a woman.

I expect he wants bipartisan cooperation too, but he's disappointed that the Dems are cooperating about as much as the Repubs did during the Bush years.

Boo hoo.

Go ahead, mod me a troll. See if I care.

Re:Statistics work both ways.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065362)

Republicans don't reason, you insensitive clod!

Re:Statistics work both ways.... (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065440)

When the director doesn't know what he is directing, and the chairperson can't control it, they need to find new jobs. Makes no difference whether Feinstein wants to raise or lower it, she can't do an effective job when she complains about the direction it is going and can't/won't do anything about it.

People in charge who whine about things aren't leading. People in charge who take responsibility and get things done ... are.

The U.S. government has a history of violence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065382)

"$664-billion defense budget"

The U.S. government has invaded or bombed or interfered with at least 24 countries since the end of the 2nd world war. The U.S. government has killed or caused the death of an estimated 11,000,000 people during that time.

"Defense" allows extreme corruption, because the affairs and the budget is easily hidden. For examples from just one war, see Grand Theft Pentagon [amazon.com]

Re:Statistics work both ways.... (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065538)

Neither of the things you said has anything to do with statistics, they're simply an opinion based on opinions about a number, and the latter one doesn't even have a sound basis in reality.

For starters, right from the summary: Clapper's statement was made during his confirmation hearing. Do you know what a confirmation hearing is? It means it wasn't his job at the time, making your comment completely inane without even evaluating the sentiment.

Second, even if he said it again today and it were completely true, not knowing what every intelligence agency in the nation is doing may or may not be his failure. It may, for starters, be a statement of the impossibility of the task; even with all the information at his disposal, chances are there's no way he can know everything each of 1,200 different agencies is doing because they are doing, well, apparently $80 billion worth of things. He may know the overall strategies or even the major tasks or operations going at a particular moment, but that simply leaves a statement like "[nobody] in the world knows what they're all doing" up to subjective determinations of what "what they're all doing" means. It may also be because he does not have the authority needed or that he is not receiving the cooperation needed to do all aspects of his job. This isn't like corporate America where if you stall or disobey your boss he can simply fire you. Most of the top positions, while ostensibly reporting to the DNI, are Senate-confirmed. He can't, for example, walk up to the CIA Director and say "I've had enough of your insubordination, you're fired!" no matter how much he might want to.

Third, Feinstein's comments have nothing to do with her fitness to be on the committee. "The last decade" was dominated by 8 years of Republican control, meaning that even if she disapproved of what was going on she was a minority voice. It's also worth noting that while such committees do have considerable power (but not necessarily authority) over budget matters in their areas, that the House and not the Senate controls the purse-strings and that there are so many budgetary loopholes and exceptions that money could easily be moved around from discretionary spending accounts that obfuscate the true expenditures, until a specific report that deals specifically with realities and not budgets is released.

And need I point out again that neither comment has anything to do with statistics or how they can be spun multiple ways?

Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065094)

They spent $80billion and they still don't have any.

Just NUKE the Axis of Evil !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065106)

Then they can all go home !!

NORTH KOREA
RED CHINA
PERSIA
AF-AF-AFGHANHOUNDPLACE
MEXICO
COLOMBIA
CANADA
NEW JERSEY

These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !! These are all places that need to be nuked !!

Re:Just NUKE the Axis of Evil !! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065300)

Are you twelve years old?

Infra-intelligence, ahoy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065112)

The problem has an obvious solution.

Create an infra-intelligence department which would gather info on what all the other intelligence and secret programs depts are doing.

Yeah, an yet another layer of abstraction, but when the situation demands it...

Visit Request from the Almighty (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065114)

The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"

Does God have the need to know? I can't find him in JPAS either.

Re:Visit Request from the Almighty (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065422)

Does God have the need to know? I can't find him in JPAS either.

You don't have high enough clearance for that. Don't ask questions above your paygrade. ;-P

And yet (-1, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065144)

Americans still aren't getting any smarter...

Costs.. (1)

mx_mx_mx (1625481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065182)

When we talk about space, we always compare the Iraq war to costs of building good
spaceships, like Apollo for instance.

Heck, here a one year budget is almost exactly half of total cost of Apollo program in modern money.
80 Billion vs 170 Billion.

Re:Costs.. (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065458)

The difference here is that Apollo was actually worthwhile. We got live science and real products and technologies out of it, for less than (yearly) what American women pay for cosmetics. Don't besmirch Apollo on my watch. Fuck, the Chinese are just NOW trying to get to the moon, what some 40 years late. They're gonna have a huge video blackout when they find our flag is still there.

More on the topic; this is money well spent as it also prevents lion, polar bear, and zombie attacks on US soil. So, they're doing SOMETHING right.

Re:Costs.. (1)

mx_mx_mx (1625481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065802)

But that exactly what I wanted to say.
US spends so much money on useless things that even that completely useless agency budget in 2 years covers costs
of 10 years of very useful Apollo program.

Heck if we could cut these completely useless budgets, we probably had a space colony on mars by now

Coicidentally, in the news today (0, Troll)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065200)

An obviously meant-to-be-discovered "bomb" was discovered in a flight heading for the US that was uncovered by US intelligence. I know this because the reporters have been making sure to mention over and over again that it was US intelligence that discovered this "bomb" and not a sharp-eyed baggage handler. They also reported that this "bomb" had all sorts of wires hanging out of the packaging suggesting it was meant to be discovered.

No bomb. (1)

fuyu-no-neko (839858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065298)

From the reports I've been reading, it wasn't even a bomb. To be fair, we're probably overdue for the next power grab against our rights, and they usually seem to start with a good scare...

Re:No bomb. (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065426)

The war on toner has begun.

Re:Coicidentally, in the news today (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065342)

I blame Stephen Colbert ... after all, the March to Keep Fear Alive is tomorrow.

Feinstein ... ? (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065210)

It seems fairly clear that with "the last decade" they are trying to blame it on (who would've guessed?) Bush.

The chairs of the committee have been:

  • 2009-2010: Feinstein (D)
  • 2007-2008: Rockefeller (D)
  • 2005-2006: Roberts (R)
  • 2003-2004: Roberts (R)
  • 2001-2002: Graham (D)

I wonder how much the budget went up from 2001-2003 and from 2007-present, since Democrats chaired it then? I find it hard to pin this down on either party...

Re:Feinstein ... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065236)

Gosh, if the committee had anything at all with determining the budget amount, or the breakdowns, you might have a point there.

Re:Feinstein ... ? (3, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065256)

It looks like in 2005, it was $44 billion... so, presumably, between 2005 and the present, it doubled. According to one story, it was at $50 billion in 2007... meaning, from 2007 to present, it gained $30 billion? It seems hard to blame that on Bush and the Republicans, since that's only two years of Bush and no years of Republican SIC chairmanship.

Re:Feinstein ... ? (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065532)

No need to pin to the two main parties, they are BOTH at fault. BOTH conspire against us and take bribes from any organization willing to offer $5000+ to our congress-critters. So, don't find fault with the bleeding-heart idiots, or the gun-toting xtian hillbillies, they are both fucked in the head, and on the take. No, I'm not a Tea Bagger either, I'm an American Citizen and not happy with the right or left. Get in the middle and do some fucking work, and stop taking money from corporations. Yeah, that'll happen real soon...

Re:Feinstein ... ? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065648)

Generally, I agree. Frankly, I'm pretty conservative ... especially fiscally ... but I'd have to say I'm a bit more socially moderate than most "conservatives." But honestly ... I'd rather have an honest centrist or even socialist-leaning than dishonest Republican/conservative/whatever. Unfortunately, it seems all the honest people get killed before they get to Washington or something. :P

There do seem to be some honest, genuinely nice "politicians." Like ... two. Or something like that.

no god (0, Troll)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065212)

all that intelligence, and still they don't know god doesn't excist

Move over military-industrial complex... (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065214)

Make way for the terror-industrial complex. I remember after the cold war there was actually serious talk about reducing the military budget from utterly ludicrous to just slightly ludicrous. That is until we found a new boogieman and started the "war on terror". Now that we're fighting an abstract concept instead of an actual definable (and beatable) enemy, our military-industrial complex can continue to grow without limit forever. As an extra added bonus, since this abstract concept requires constant surveillance of small targets (ie, people in small huts scattered all over the world), the vast majority of the money can simply be tossed into a giant hole called "classified operations" and we don't even have to bother with all that tedious itemized budgeting we had to do with the traditional military.

On the other hand, at least with the old military-industrial complex we got some cool hardware that we got to see at air shows and parades. Nowadays all we get is the occasional FBI surveillance device on our cars and constant news stories about entire airports being shut down because someone forgot to put their shampoo in the checked bag instead of the carry-on.

But hey, at least we're all safer now, right?

Re:Move over military-industrial complex... (5, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065408)

I came to the conclusion some time ago that the United States can not function without a bogeyman. In a country of highly polarized absolutes, it is impossible for most people to conceive of an America that exists as "good" unless something else is held up as an example of "evil."

Re:Move over military-industrial complex... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065720)

Yes, exactly.

During the last election cycle, there was a poll of folks and one of the questions was (to paraphrase) "Is it the responsibility of America to fight evil?"

A huge number of people chose "yes". The "evil" wasn't specified but after further explanation the "evil" was Islam. Some, to appear PC will say "Militant Islam" or "Islamofascism" but the gist is Islamic terrorism is our "enemy".

And I have to agree, most Americans have a black and white; good and evil mentality and bringing up any shades of gray leads to accusations of "supporting terrorism".

...welcome to the eye in the sky. (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065728)

Take for example the constant paucity of translators familiar with the tongue of countries we're occupying. Where was the nationwide scholarship initiative for Pashto, Farsi and Arabic -- in High school -- in say 9/12/01? It's not like 10 years later our major problem has been trust and the second one has been trust and the third has been blowing up people accidently due to flawed -- um what is that word I'm looking for?
I guess the conspiracy buffs have been right all along.

Re:Move over military-industrial complex... (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065770)

I should not worry about the cost, Obama's message seems to be "Can we print the US Dollar, Yes we can".

It all looks like a slower motion version of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

How did Ms. Feinstein decide it's unacceptable? (2, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065224)

Let's see, what things might have happened in the last decade which demanded a growth in our intelligence spending?

Man, I can't think of *anything*. I guess that means that total spending approaching $10 Billion is completely unreasonable.

Re:How did Ms. Feinstein decide it's unacceptable? (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065400)

You decide like this:

1. Increasing debt means American public, in general, is unhappy with spending more.

2. Look for area where not-my-party has increased spending.

3. Decide it's bad.

4. Bonus points: be chair of committee so that you can imply that if your party remains in power, your party can fix it.

Re:How did Ms. Feinstein decide it's unacceptable? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065472)

I just hope all the same people who say "throwing more money at education won't fix it" realize the same is true for intelligence. We'll see. I happen to think intelligence *is* the main ingredient to defending against terrorism, since hiding is their only defense, whereas sending massive conventional forces to invade nations was a stupendous blunder. Then again, the Iraq invasion was due to intelligence errors - the cause of which was cultural, not lack of resources.

Look at the details (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065626)

Let's see, what things might have happened in the last decade which demanded a growth in our intelligence spending?

Man, I can't think of *anything*. I guess that means that total spending approaching $10 Billion is completely unreasonable.

Look, I'm pretty right wing, but even with the two wars and Al Qaeda still trying to run ops against us, there's no excuse for the current state of our intelligence community. Do you realize just how big and bloated it is? Have you seen the Wikipedia page for the U.S. Intelligence Community [wikipedia.org] ? Do you see how many different agencies there are? It seems like every single organ of the government has its own intel department, some of them very large. And many of these agencies... for example the military branches and the State Department... are often working against each other. The way Intel has grown has been monstrous and counterproductive. And it's just way too damn big. Intelligence, to be effective, cannot be too big or too expansive. So recognizing that we had so many agencies, what did we do? Cut them down? Eliminate and consolidate some of them? No, we added yet another layer of bureaucracy with the "Director of National Intelligence", the idea being that he'd be a central clearinghouse and authority for all US Intel. But guess what... we had that already. Wasn't the "Director of Central Intelligence" supposed to have that job? I mean the very nature of the, duh, Central Intelligence Agency was to be that central clearinghouse for all US intel. Again, we just added more bureaucracy.

Have a good look at that list. We should probably eliminate or consolidate two-thirds of those organizations. Why in the holy hell do we need a separate national reconnaissance office and national geospatial intel agency outside of CIA? Why does the State Department need an intel org? Just have diplomats write observational reports and forward them to CIA.

Bottom line, just like every other branch of government, intelligence has gotten too huge, expensive, and bloated to effectively do its job.

Re:Look at the details (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065928)

The scary answer for why there are so many competing intelligence organs? To keep CIA in check. State has been at odds with CIA for decades, with CIA wanting to overthrow governments and to blow stuff up and with State trying to keep the status quo. The most bizarre aspect of CIA isn't that it has its own paramilitary directorate, but that this directorate has been responsible for high-tech advances such as the SR-71 Blackbird (which began life as the CIA-funded A-12) and the Predator drones, and has some of the most skilled warriors on the face of the planet within their Special Activities Division. Someone needs to watch the watcher, and you can be damned sure that Congress is not capable of such oversight.

Truly scary (1, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065242)

If you want to understand what any organization is actually doing (as opposed to understanding what they say they're doing), read their budget. So the fact that the people theoretically in charge of the intelligence agencies don't know how the money is being spent means that they aren't in charge at all.

There are 2 non-mutually-exclusive reasons this could happen:
- The people that are supposed to be in charge aren't doing their jobs.
- The career spies that work directly for the people in charge are hiding their activities from their superiors.

Either way, that means that it doesn't matter who gets elected next week - the spooks will continue doing whatever the heck they want with the US government's money.

Re:Truly scary (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065438)

Who says the money is all going to people who have some sort of secret activities to hide? There could easily be groups that are so secret that nobody knows that they don't actually do any work.

Re:Truly scary (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065804)

Yes, it's better if the US intelligence agencies are spending my money on nothing rather than spending it on spying on me.

But that still doesn't make it perfectly ok.

GDP doubled in that time (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065246)

The US GDP was around 8.6 trillion dollars in 1998 while it is around 14.6 trillion today. That is an almost doubling of the size of our economy.

So taking that into account, a tripling of intelligence spending does outpace economic growth by 50%, and that seems bad. However you also need to consider the geopolitical climate we are in now after 9/11. A 50% increase in spending does not seem outrageous when that spending is directed towards specific needs like intelligence gathering.

Re:GDP doubled in that time (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065518)

s/geopolitical/propaganda

Re:GDP doubled in that time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065922)

Why does intelligence need a 1+:1 growth rate with GDP? Someone more naive might say, a doubling of the GDP "is a good time to reduce taxes." Except, as we know, that will never happen.

And yet, people are surprised by this... (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065258)

This is the inevitable outcome of having the operations side of the intelligence community gutted back in the 1970s by the Church Committee. There are two ways to organize intelligence: boots on the ground or an army of analysts who "use technology to make up for the lack of boots on the ground."

The American people want good, actionable intelligence without all of the sordid shit that the CIA did to get it back then. That's like a fat ass wanting to gorge herself with cake and have a body that rivals Gisele Bundchen or Heidi Klum.

9/11 was proof that the "we can use technology to replace an operations-focused intelligence apparatus" argument is a load of bullshit.

Re:And yet, people are surprised by this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065468)

What makes you think the nearly 10 billion were spent mostly in 'technology'?

Think of these poor students too (1)

sosaited (1925622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065268)

How about spending some of the money trying to help these poor students [slashdot.org] understand the two elusive lines?

where is the tea party and the republicans (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065270)

complaining about uncontrolled government spending?

only when it goes to teachers and transit systems and healthcare for poor people do they seem to get upset

the usa has to massively curtail its intelligence and military spending

unfortunately, we will only dominate the world 2x over, rather than 10x over (rolls eyes)

Re:where is the tea party and the republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065370)

No, it is just as bad when the money goes to this. Welfare, medicare, SS, the military, intelligence, taxes; they all need massive cuts.

Anything beyond a balanced budget is unacceptable.

Re:where is the tea party and the republicans (2, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065586)

where is the tea party and the republicans complaining about uncontrolled government spending?
Well I for one am for cutting defense as well as entitlements wherever possible. The problem with defense is that neither you nor I have any clue what number is actually appropriate to meet our defense needs without expert knowledge of international diplomacy, military strategy and a big crystal ball to see what the future threats will be. It is easy for the UK to slash their defense spending when their doctrine states that in every large conflict they will only take part with partners (translation: US will carry most of the burden). I personally suspect that the military could do the same with less if they had to, but every congress and president, R or D, have been throwing money at them so they never had to be particularly efficient with it.

Re:where is the tea party and the republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065880)

only when it goes to teachers and transit systems and healthcare for poor people do they seem to get upset

Taxpayers in the Buffalo NY school district paid $9 million for cosmetic surgery of 500 staff members in 2009. [wordpress.com] That's $18,000/teacher worth of boob jobs and liposuction. This while NY state faces a $8.2 billion budget deficit. [wgrz.com] If you think that is tolerable you are out of your mind.

In the same twelve years cited by this story on intelligence spending the FDA's food stamp budget increased by 250% to $53 billion [usda.gov] .

The "tea party" sees the intelligence/military spending, a thing mandated in the first paragraph of our Constitution [wikipedia.org] , as providing actual value, whereas the other stuff is just vote buying.

the usa has to massively curtail its spending

Fixed that for you.

unfortunately, we will only dominate the world 2x over, rather than 10x over

The present level of US military spending as a percent of GDP has consistently prevailed since the end of the second world war. The last world war. It's a bargain at twice the price.

Unfortunately this shows a lack of intelligence. (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065302)

It shows a massive lack of intelligence across teh board fro US defense budgets.
Consider what the world wants [unesco.org] and this was calculated years ago.

Amazing that the US defense Budget is nearing what the whole world had budgeted for defense not so long ago.

The incredible lack of intelligence these current numbers show is of complete failure to realize this amount of money used on removing real world problems and improving the general social environment the people of this world live in, would result in a massively reduced motive to go to war. and perhaps even eliminate any need for war should all other countries instead spend their defence budgets on such improvements.

The intelligence community is showing their moronic ignorance.

How Naive (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065708)

"The incredible lack of intelligence these current numbers show is of complete failure to realize this amount of money used on removing real world problems and improving the general social environment the people of this world live in, would result in a massively reduced motive to go to war. and perhaps even eliminate any need for war should all other countries instead spend their defence budgets on such improvements."

Ah, the old "social spending will end war and terrorism" canard. Too bad that reality has shot it full of holes.

You think social spending will stop Islamist terrorism? Really? Especially considering that every Islamist terrorist attack against the west has been conducted by middle class or wealthy Muslims? These people aren't attacking us because of lack of clean water or trade. They're attacking us because their religion tells them to. All of the social spending in the world isn't going to stop them.

What about wars between nation-states? Russia has perhaps more natural wealth than any country in the world. It hasnt' stopped them from trying to push their neighbors around. Ask the Georgians how peaceful the Russians are with all of their oil and gas and mineral wealth.

War will be here as long as humans will be here. Social spending will not change that one whit.

More than half of this is NOT HUMNIT or tech (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065330)

More than half of this is what we would call under the table payments to "operatives" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Somalia who then turn around and use the US cash to finance attacks against the US.

Time to kill the Black Budget (which is "off the book") and daylight everything.

France does it - and they're busy attacking al-Qaeda in Somalia where they actually are, whereas the US is in Iraq and Afghanistan where al-Qaeda HAS NOT BEEN for FIVE years.

You don't have to itemize the people involved, just the dollars involved in large groups.

Oddly enough (1)

wholestrawpenny (1809456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065354)

This is actually one thing that the Federal Government should be spending money on, as it does not fall to the powers and responsibilities of the states.

Expensive! (1)

jboker (990329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065374)

And I thought my education was expensive!

Producing Reports != Producing Results (1)

bamwham (1211702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065376)

That's the basic problem. Actually this is problem in a number of government run systems.

Re:Producing Reports != Producing Results (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065910)

That's the basic problem. Actually this is problem in a number of government run systems.

It's actually worse than that. If you're producing a thousand reports per week, then any real information is probably hidden under the huge steaming pile of 'intelligence'.

So it ends up just little more than a means of covering your backside because after someone carries out a terrorist attack you can point to the report which should have allowed you to stop if it anyone had read it and been able to decide that it was actually important information and it was important enough to do something about.

How do you know? How do you decide? (5, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065386)

Playing devil's advocate here...

We haven't had a major terrorist incident in the US for a while. Why?

  • A: There hasn't been any credible ability to do so by the bad guys
    B: Nobody wants to harm the US any more
    C: The counterterrorism efforts have prevented such an attack

For ANY of the above choices, how do you know? I mean, REALLY know, not just guessing or trying to shout louder than the guy next to you whose opinion is different than yours?

And for future budgets, how do you decide? Reduce the budget until a major attack happens, then go slightly higher next year? Reduce the budget then just absorb major attacks when they happen? Keep it where it's at on the assumption that the spending levels are the reason there's been nothing big happening? Again, upon what do you base your decision?

In all of Slashdot's membership, there are probably a few who have the real, first-hand primary-source knowledge (or are themselves a primary source) to make these decisions based upon fact and clear, rational thought. The rest of us, myself included, are talking out of our asses because we don't know shit. I loathe and despise Feinstein (she's never met a government-power-increasing law she didn't like), but she's in a position to have at least some factual knowledge. Have we overspent? Probably. But I don't want to be the one to decide how much to cut, and what to keep, and I'm not going to pretend I'm qualified to tell the intel community how to do their jobs. (Intel(tm)? That's another matter...)

We leave it to the judgment of history whether Feinstein is qualified to do so. Myself? I DON'T KNOW.

Re:How do you know? How do you decide? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065564)

We leave it to the judgment of history whether Feinstein is qualified to do so. Myself? I DON'T KNOW.

And the beauty of the system is that your trust will never be shattered because YOU NEVER WILL KNOW. What a wonderfully circular logic you use.

spying on ourselves (2, Interesting)

Francofille (1864714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065404)

You have to wonder how much of this is spent internally - wiretapping ourselves, invading our own privacy, installing GPS to some poor innocent kid's car for no reason. Unless you count some idle remarks on facebook as legit reasons for anything.

Terrorists are the new commies. And like commies they could be among us, working to bring us down from within! Hurry and report all your friends on facebook before they report you!

And this is how it is broken down (2, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065414)

Administration: 12%

Mistakes: 9%

Useful work: 8%

Coverups: 11%

Pork:60%

Cost Per Person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065418)

That's only $258 per person per year which means a family of four is only on the hook for $1032.26 per year.

Money was not the problem on 9/11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065430)

We were paying big bucks for a bunch of unaccountable fiefdoms that kept secrets from each other (despite working for the same government) lest someone steal from someone else's budget.

Shoving an infinite amount of money into more unaccountable fiefdoms just gets us more secrets and more debt. And no new agency larded on top of other agencies will fix it.

Get a refund (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065490)

With 80 billion, one should expect a lot more intelligence.

Supply and Demand (1)

Francofille (1864714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065500)

If only we could buy intelligence, 89 bil ought to buy a whole lot.

In fact that explains the scarcity ... the government is buying it all up and probably locking it up inside Fort Knox for a rainy day. Politicians are so good at euphemisms.

how much does the truth cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065674)

it strives to be free, however, it remains unavailable to US. butt, we are paying (integrity, humanity, conscience etc...) dearly to sponsor worldwide deception, murder, mayhem etc..., so we wouldn't be alone/afraid in the manufactured 'darkness'?

the corepirate nazi freemason holycost (life, liberty etc...) is increasing by the minute. you call this 'weather'?

continue to add immeasurable amounts of MISinformation, rhetoric & fluff, & there you have IT? that's US? thou shalt not... oh forget it. fake weather (censored?), fake money, fake god(s), what's next? fake ?aliens? ahhaha. seeing as we (have been told that) came from monkeys, the only possible clue we would have to anything being out of order, we would get from the weather. that, & all the other monkeys tipping over/exploding around US.

the search continues; on any search engine

weather+manipulation

bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+oil+freemason+blair+obama+weather+authors

meanwhile (as it may take a while longer to finish wrecking this place); the corepirate nazi illuminati (remember, (we have been told) we came from monkeys, & 'they' believe they DIDN'T), continues to demand that we learn to live on less/nothing while they continue to consume/waste/destroy immeasurable amounts of stuff/life, & feast on nubile virgins while worshipping themselves (& evile in general (baal to be exact)). they're always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere/planet (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

all the manuals say we're not to kill each other, & we're mandated to care for/about one another, before any other notion will succeed. one does not need to agree whois 'in charge' to grasp the possibility that there may be some assistance available to us, including from each other. there's also the question of frequent extreme 'distractions' preventing us from following the simple 'directions' we were given, along with everything we needed to accomplish our task. see you there?
boeing, boeing, gone.

US what haha riiiight intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065688)

80 billion and they are still a hated country and the riaa and mpaa copyright craze is still on all that money and they cant figure out taxing culture isn't smart

Don't underestimate the spooks. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34065808)

I've worked at the CIA. I sincerely doubt that God knows everything going on in there.

Am I the only one who's not concerned by this? (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065816)

So it's $80 billion? Did everyone else fail to notice the other number in TFS? Total defense spending is $664 billion, which leaves $584 billion on non intelligence related defense spending. How much of that $584 billion is spent on military forces meant to defend against a cold war style enemy vs the kind of threats the US faces today? My guess would be a large portion of it. Of the $80 billion on intelligence, how much is appropriate for the kinds of threats the US faces today? My guess would be a significantly larger portion than the rest of the defense budget.

Would I like to see a significantly lower defense budget for the US? Absolutely. But intelligence seems like entirely the wrong portion of our national defense to cut it from, given current conditions.

Typical bloated government... (1)

Aelcyx (123258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34065920)

Why do we need defense spending when we have the SECOND AMENDMENT! Screw the nanny state! RON PAULEM 4EVR!

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