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Inside the 2013 US Intelligence "Black Budget"

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the itemized-bill dept.

United States 271

i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "U.S. spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government's top secret budget. The $52.6 billion 'black budget' for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress."

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271 comments

Cool (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712377)

Time to pretend like the president has any actual control over any of this! Makes you feel like you as an American matter, doesn't it?

Douglas Adams was right. The presidency does not exist to wield power. The presidency exists to distract attention away from the wielding of power.

Re:Cool (4, Informative)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44712657)

I think the only thing that is "intelligent" about "intelligence agencies" is the way they secure unlimited black box budgets. $60 billion for 100,000 staff is an average of $600k for each staff member. what are they spending it on? contractors i bet.

Re:Cool (0, Troll)

Garridan (597129) | about a year ago | (#44712875)

Did you RTFB? Oh wait, no, I did. And I still have the same question. Funny thing about this horrific terrorist act by Snowden -- we barely know anything we didn't know beforehand -- but the administration totally pulled a Streisand and now more people are learning the truth

Re:Cool (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#44713047)

Drones. That's where the money goes. Drones are expensive. And, the facilities to operate the drones. The military industrial complex, and the components of that complex, sets their own prices. Like the no-bid contracts exposed in the Iraq war, money is no problem. Secret deals are made, complete with kickbacks and campaign donations, and the government pays whatever the contractor says to pay. The people who authorize these expenditures are part of the same group that authorizes expenditures for billion dollar aircraft. Think about that - billion dollar aircraft.

Alright - maybe I exaggerate the drone cost some, but I am pretty damned serious.

Re:Cool (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44713015)

what are they spending it on?

I hear these sorts of things are useful, and expensive: KH-11 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cool (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44712659)

People tend to vastly overestimate how much defacto power a president has.

Re:Cool (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44712761)

The presidency is like a piano player in a whorehouse. He knows what is going on upstairs, but there's not much he can do about it other than to drown out the sounds.

Re:Cool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712905)

Nah, he is like the piano player in a gang house where they just brought a beaten girl upstairs for rape.
He knows what they do upstairs and he knows it is wrong. But the only thing he does is drown out the sounds while he should be contacting the authorities.
And not only that, but in a moment where the others are preparing upstairs, he tells the girl to not worry, all is fine.

Which would be the general public.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713023)

" Makes you feel like you as an American matter, doesn't it? "

Actually, I agree with all the government programs that have been in the media lately. So do millions of other Americans. Sorry if it's a shock to you that there are people in your democracy who disagree with you.

How they use funds? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712389)

Oh, that's actually pretty easy:
cocain and caviar... and hookers.

Wow... I RTFA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712401)

And saw the American public ripping the big government a new asshole.

Good job peeps. Keep doin gods work.

We could spend this money almost any other way and do much more good.

Re:Wow... I RTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712749)

We could spend this money almost any other way and do much more good.

Could, but won't.

Open Source (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#44712423)

Between the CIA and the DoDIA they have over half a billion in the category "open source". Very interesting.

Re:Open Source (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44712475)

Between the CIA and the DoDIA they have over half a billion in the category "open source". Very interesting.

The notion of CIA and "open" impacts my mind pretty much as cognitive dissonance.
If I leave aside the software context and put "CIA + open source" alongside, the impact is double (what the hell can be source from CIA and still be open?)

Re:Open Source NiGgErZ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712491)

speaking of open and close. you got a lotta DICK in your ASSHOLE man. do you like it?!

Re:Open Source (4, Informative)

thoth (7907) | about a year ago | (#44712565)

Come on folks... read the damn info. The site says that "open source" data is "publicly available information appearing in print or electronic form". I'm gonna speculate part of the open source budget goes towards the salaries of linguists, computers for translation and the support staff, etc.

There's also a government website: www.opensource.gov

Re:Open Source (4, Informative)

tukang (1209392) | about a year ago | (#44712493)

"open source" refers to analysis of publicly available information such as news, social media, etc. (https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/analytical/open-source-officer-foreign-media-analyst.html)

Re:Open Source (1)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#44712505)

Thank you. I was wondering where all the upstream contributions were, or if this was just support licenses for Red Hat and Apache.

Re:Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713117)

I was wondering where all the upstream contributions were

SELinux, for one.

Re:Open Source (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44712509)

Between the CIA and the DoDIA they have over half a billion in the category "open source". Very interesting.

If you want to believe their lies, I have have some bottom land for sale along the Mississippi, or how about a bridge in New York City, real cheap, almost nothing.

Different "open source" (2)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about a year ago | (#44712515)

I couldn't find that in the text. However, that likely doesn't mean "open source" as in software. It means "open source", as in, the source of info is, well, open. Think things like broadcasts, newspapers, slashdot...

Re:Different "open source" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712537)

Exactly. "Open source intelligence", eg. getting paid to read a bunch of newspapers all day.

Re:Different "open source" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712587)

More like reddit...

Alexis contracted with Snowden's former employer Booz Allen way back in 2007

http://www.mintpressnews.com/what-was-going-on-between-reddit-co-founder-alexis-ohanian-and-stratfor/167937/

Re:Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712545)

Trying to find this bit of info in TFA(s) - can't find any reference. Can you help, please?

Re:Open Source (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44712981)

Open source is easy stuff like newspapers from other parts of the world and other forms of public record.

a whole lot of nothing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712439)

These slides suck. There's nothing useful or interesting at all.

FALSE FLAG

Bomb Syria (3, Insightful)

bhlowe (1803290) | about a year ago | (#44712445)

Obama's (and the neocon's) response: bomb a civil war in the Middle East...

Re:Bomb Syria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712759)

I don't really care about the people in Syria, Iran or any Stan. So if the US wants to send its soldiers to die in those countries with the mission of preventing muslim countries from having muslim leaders, as far as I'm concerned they can fight it out between them. Just, please don't call it "giving them democracy".

Mod This Bullshit To Oblivion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712781)

Show me one prominent/influential neocon or conservative that is in favor of intervening in Syria.
That's right, you can't, because they don't exist. Because you know this is only Obama's idea.

I just utterly fucking destroyed you with facts. Mod the parent to oblivion for being such a dumbass. You got owned.

Re:Mod This Bullshit To Oblivion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712949)

Hey, the same tactic worked for Bush, and since Obama learned everything he knows from him (since he wasn't actually in government long enough to learn from anyone else...) he figured he'd give it a shot. And you know, the saddest thing is, it will probably work.

Re:Mod This Bullshit To Oblivion (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44712957)

But if it were Bush's idea...they'd love it.

I can list a dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713153)

Show me one prominent/influential neocon or conservative that is in favor of intervening in Syria.

There you go. [lockheedmartin.com]

Up 32% YTD. I'm be-investing that it will end the year at ~133 if nothing changes, 145+ if we decide to 'help' Syria. Either way the investors win, and the Syrian people lose.

McCain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713331)

'course, I don't know where exactly he falls on the spectrum...

Re:Bomb Syria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712959)

you are blind. The neocons are not asking for bombs this time. This one is all about one man needing to show how big his balls because he is pissed they didn't listen to him.

Oversight (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712453)

If we are ever going to rein in our out of control government we desperately need to have all the public scrutiny we can get. Maybe even put some penalties up, say your budget gets slashed by a billion dollars every time one of your officials gets caught lying to congress or gets caught up in a scandal.

Re:Oversight (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44712669)

I doubt that would actually help much. Look how protective they get over secrets and accountability when the only 'cost' is embarassment. Imagine how much energy they would put in to not being accountable if there were actual penalties.

Re:Oversight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713057)

If we are ever going to rein in our out of control government we desperately need to have all the public scrutiny we can get. Maybe even put some penalties up, say your budget gets slashed by a billion dollars every time one of your officials gets caught lying to congress or gets caught up in a scandal.

Beyond public scrutiny we need people who care. Most voters don't care about any of the current issues unless it directly affects their immediate day to day life.

Links to classified data should be labeled (5, Informative)

Myria (562655) | about a year ago | (#44712469)

Slashdot - and other news aggregation websites - should put warning labels on links that go to leaked classified information. Some people can get into trouble for viewing it. I love reading it, but some people who read Slashdot work in the classified world and have to work under some of its sillier rules. (Like having to wipe your unclassified work computer because it got Top Secret data on it from the Washington Post.)

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (2)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about a year ago | (#44712477)

That makes sense..... and is truly the most insane thing I have heard this week.

Re: Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

statusbar (314703) | about a year ago | (#44712613)

So if there were an article on a news site about top secret news but it was pretend and wasn't really top secret would you still have to wipe your computer? If yes, then you will be wiping your computer often. If no, then you get acknowledgment if a leak is actually true or not.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#44712705)

That makes sense..... and is truly the most insane thing I have heard this week.

I think it was a joke. But the mod's disagree.

Not a joke. Publication != declassification (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713343)

Strange rule, but true.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712779)

Unfortunately it's true.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712837)

Gov is super paranoid, they're fingerprinting people every four months now I heard.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44713157)

Yes contractors selling more kit and overtime to watch over new contractors fixing past contractors work...
Expect a lot of internal testing, experts, deep staff tracking, random chats with strangers after work about life at bars/gyms/book clubs (fiction only).
Report any chats you have with strangers, anyone could be a loyalty test.
Direct and covert offers to 'buy' info on work topics as huge new loyalty budgets spin up.
If you really want to keep your job, report coworkers reading news aggregation websites :)
Get in fast before they report you first.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44712605)

No, fuck that. It's our moral responsibility to make sure this shit hits every wall in the room.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44712631)

Pretty much this.

Prior restraint is bollocks.

--
BMO

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44712831)

That's not prior restraint, that's information labeling. Prior restraint is when the government says you can't publish it.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44712869)

No, fuck that. It's our moral responsibility to make sure this shit hits every wall in the room.

Right - don't enable the bastards. Does a spook have to spend three days re-installing his PC because some stupid rule says that he has to if he reads a WashPo article? Good, that's three days less that he can be doing other damage.

Somebody give me a "Top Secret" nugget that's been in the MSM for months so I can I can put in my .sig.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44713039)

Good, that's three days less that he can be doing other damage.

Like making sure Russia isn't cheating on its ballistic missile treaty obligations? Like looking for North Korea making preparations to launch missiles at Japan? Like Iran assembling a nuclear warhead? I think you have a "funny" idea there, probably more than one.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (3, Insightful)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44713257)

The problem is that the agency responsible for all that shouldn't be the same agency looking at US citizens.
That's not a moral, or even constitutional issue. It's a management one.

Go through all this data to do any of the things you refer to above are specific tasks. Things no one has a problem with. The problem comes when the NSA has information overload because every AT&T office in the middle of no where has a tap on it. I hope that last statement was just hyperbole, but you get my point.

Terrorism is such a nebulous term in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians. It's being used to justify huge amounts of departmental overreach. I want the NSA to watch Russia, and Iran, and North Korea. What I don't want is for them to watch everyone at home. Doing so makes as much institutional sense as replacing policemen with soldiers.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44713267)

Like making sure Russia isn't cheating on its ballistic missile treaty obligations? Like looking for North Korea making preparations to launch missiles at Japan? Like Iran assembling a nuclear warhead? I think you have a "funny" idea there, probably more than one.

Your scare tactics don't work on me - I don't live in fear, and America doesn't work when people do (even Francis Scott Key got that right) . Japan can worry about Japan. Russia isn't planning to bomb the world. Iran hasn't started a war with another country in 150 years. If you're afraid of Iran, you should look at the CIA, which even admitted this week to overthrowing its democracy and installing the government that led directly to the Islamic Revolution and the current clusterfuck of a government they have there.

America is not the World Police, but the US intelligence agencies do violate our highest laws (and International law) every single day. We need to take care of our internal problems as our primary responsibility.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713301)

Wow, you're right about Iran. Interesting. But if there's such a thing as begging to be invaded, this has to be it:

"Between February and September 1979, Iran's government executed 85 senior generals and forced all major-generals and most brigadier-generals into early retirement.[26] By September 1980, the government had purged 12,000 army officers.[26] These purges resulted in a drastic decline in the Iranian military's operational capacities.[26] Their regular army (which, in 1978, was considered the world's fifth most powerful)[48] had been badly weakened by purges and lack of spare parts. The desertion rate had reached 60%, and the officer corps was devastated."

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44713273)

Long term the nugget idea is interesting, just keep quoting the info as posted to Slashdot and adding your own insights.
A lot of staff will for the first time face the reality/limits of their rights and freedoms and wonder about their own internet logs.
Self censorship takes over and very well educated staff members notes group think setting in.
Thats why the more successful clandestine services ensure staff read as much as they can and offer to keep their education going.
Languages, propaganda, protest movements where all once seen as great learning environments.
So if your good clearance "still" has some "leaked classified information" clause ... where you in the newer uptake?

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712617)

Not the type of NSFW I normally think of first, but it's a valid point. It also occurs to me that if you were reading this stuff in an airport on a laptop, boarded a plane, then crossed a US border (either direction) you might be accused of transporting classified materials internationally if they searched your computer. Heck, depending upon which side of the border you were on, you might already have broken the law just by reading it.

I wonder if there are all sorts of loud alarm bells going off in the bowels of the NSA thanks to automatic filters picking up scads of classified material going all over the internet?

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44712833)

The automatic filters dont work like that anymore. The first find would be set aside for machine learning and then the search tasks go on as normal.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712623)

Slashdot - and other news aggregation websites - should put warning labels on links that go to leaked classified information. Some people can get into trouble for viewing it. I love reading it, but some people who read Slashdot work in the classified world and have to work under some of its sillier rules. (Like having to wipe your unclassified work computer because it got Top Secret data on it from the Washington Post.)

You chose to work for the Devil. It turns out, sometimes the Devil wants his due.

That's your problem. So fucking tired of every edge-case person wanting the whole rest of the world to accommodate them. It's self-important entitlement at its finest.

Here's an idea: don't click on links that talking about US intelligence agencies. Simple!

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712785)

Why was this modded down? It didn't kiss his ass enough or what? It's the truth. You take a job with special requirements, those requirements are _yours_ and not every web site's. Is this controversial or difficult to understand?

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44712885)

From that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451 [wikipedia.org] ~"unpleasant content and contradicting facts and opinions" is now just "secret" news.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (4, Insightful)

CoolGopher (142933) | about a year ago | (#44712887)

I'm sorry, but if it's available to all and sundry on the internet, it is no longer secret, let alone Top Secret. The cat is out of the bag, the genie is out of the bottle, the train's left the platform, etc.

If institutions fail to adapt to the changing world, that's their problem, not the world's.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about a year ago | (#44712911)

We went over this when wikileaks Material was posted to /.

It's your responsibility. Not the site's. Otherwise, they'd have to accomodate to every small request.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44713347)

The US press did to with Nixon too. The old trick was to get to the press/publisher/author first. That worked well for many, many years :)

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

nsaspook (20301) | about a year ago | (#44712919)

You mean the words "Intelligence Black Budget" didn't clue you in?

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#44713121)

Nahhh - some people probably think it's the government's budget for black SUV's. And, that would be "news for nerds" based on all the options and accessories to be found in said black SUV's.

I saw one not long ago, in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Damned thing was completely blacked out, violating any and all laws about tinted windshields. There had to be six antenna sticking up out of it, maybe more. I only saw it for a couple seconds, in cross traffic at one of the three red light intersections in town. Wonder what the hell spooks were doing in Broken Bow, Oklahoma? Maybe there was a credible threat to the ancient old cypress tree outside of town or something.

Re:Links to classified data should be labeled (3, Insightful)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44712961)

Slashdot - and other news aggregation websites - should put warning labels on links that go to leaked classified information.

yes, that's it, let's have everyone go out of our way to help those poor souls like you that are helping perpetuate the problem. oh wait, here's a better idea, dont work for criminals or companies that help them.

Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44712557)

$52 billion? That's like burning up a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet every year.

With that amount of money spent, there shouldn't a terrorist left breathing on the face of the planet.

Um, Secret Squirrel guys, I think that you are doing something completely wrong with that money. I know that you like listening to other folks telephone calls, but clearly, this isn't the way.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#44712607)

Wrong hat

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44712609)

Ah, I see you're mistake. This budget has absolutely nothing to do with terrorists. As with all government programs its primary goal is in justifying its own existence.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712877)

this stuff has been going on for years, and no one bothered to find out how much those programs were running. to your point, this is over a way to disguise themselves from being authoritarian. use any and all propaganda to implement a state of control over its own citizens.

people do not know what they want and a majority believe this terrorism threat, just like they did communism. what makes me laugh out loud over this country are people that believe in politics, and believe what there government tells them, but they somehow do not trust nether?? that is a mind f**k... and I try not to think about that for too long, for fear my head would explode..

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44712979)

The budget is for intelligence, of which terrorism is just one slice. Other slices keep track of the ballistic missile and nuclear programs of Iran and North Korean. Another slice keeps tabs of Russia to check and see if it is cheating on its nuclear missile and conventional forces treaty obligations. Another slice is watching Russian submarines and bombers as they have restarted their probes of NATO and US/Canadian territory. Another slice is watching China and its occupation of territory claimed by India, and naval encroachments on many of its neighbors, including Japan and the Philippines. Another slice is tracking developments in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and many other places. Another part is probably watching the rise of fascist parties in various parts of Europe, such as Greece, Russia, and other countries. Another slice is watching Columbian drug cartels and their drug smuggling submarines, and the threat the cartels pose to the central government. Yet another slice is probably watching Iran's activities in Central America where they are allying with various terrorist groups and governments that consider themselves adversaries of the US. Another slice is watching arms shipments around the world, such as North Korea to Iran. Another slice is engaged in countering nuclear weapons proliferation. There are also exchanges with allies, both enduring and episodic, in which the US provides data to stop terrorism or aggression. There is way more to watch than that, lots of infrastructure to build and maintain, satellites to launch and monitor, data to process and analyze. Hopefully they'll be able to prevent a new Pearl Harbor or 9/11, and generally help to maintain as much peace in the world as possible.

If you think the intelligence agencies have to justify their own existence, you're kidding yourself.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44713075)

Re maintain as much peace in the world as possible?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions [wikipedia.org]
Much of that seems to been keeping the world in a mess so it needs US help/arms and political cover/support.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713359)

Most of those uses aren't part of the black budget, or if they are don't need to be. They can simply be buried in consolidated departmental budgets. In fact, some of the budgets in the so-called Black Budget are buried this way.

With a black budget that huge, something is definitely wrong. At $50+ billion there should be little doubt that congressmen and lobbyists are conspiring to hide their pork.

Even something like the NRO's budget doesn't even need to be entirely in the Black Budget. Any amateur analyst can figure out how much it costs to build and send up satellites. And sub-billion dollar precision isn't going to reveal any technological secrets. Plus, it's not like other countries don't use spies to obtain this information, _especially_ the Chinese. Most of it available using open source information (Lockheed budgeting, etc, etc). The rest can be had by sending over an army of young Asian spy whores to seduce all the brass with yellow fever.

The Pentagon, lobbyists, and Senators are simply avoiding accountability and criticism. It's as simple as that. The only people who seriously argue otherwise are military fanboys who fetishize everything defense and intelligence related. In fact, it's these fanboys who end up revealing sensitive information. In D.C. people trade secrets like currency. Every little disclosure, accidental or intentional, is innocuous. But spies are paid to collect all of these little leaks and put the whole picture together.

If you want real secrecy, you need fewer secrets. The more secrets there are, the lower the average value people perceive in them. More people will leak them. And it's hard to differentiate what secret is worth getting laid for, or one-upping some guy at a bar during an impromptu defense strategy discussion, and which ones will actually cost lives or money.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#44712693)

Um, Secret Squirrel guys, I think that you are doing something completely wrong with that money.

Perfectly reasonable statement, but wrong. The goals of the program are being well met -- it's just that you misunderstand the goal, which is really to funnel money into the privatized defence/intelligence community.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (2)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44712901)

Don't be so hard on them, they predicted that the USSR was going to break up - oh wait, they didn't - despite more than half the Russian civilians on the street knowing it was going on. Arab spring? Not as such. Planes crashing into buildings? No, that was Tom Clancy and the writers for the Lone Gunman series.
OK then, be hard on them. Kick the toy soldiers out and replace them with real ones. Nowhere near as many will be needed and the outsourced money funnels will be removed.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712975)

What are you talking about? It was well known the USSR couldn't keep up the level of spending. That's the reason they spent as much as they did, as well as put many plans in place that made our spending look even higher than it was. And it is the same lesson that Bin Laden used on Sept 11th. They didn't need to out fight our army, they had had to get us to spend ourselves into oblivion trying to police the whole world. I think he's just about right, too. Our debt level is beyond unsustainable. Hopefully we aren't past the point of no return yet, but we have to be close if we haven't passed it yet. And we are still spending too much.

Re:Clearly, they are doing something wrong. (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44712989)

The purpose is to have an impressive-looking budget to create the *appearance* of Doing Something(tm).

They achieve that more effectively by not spending the money sensibly.

Well it's "only" 50 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712573)

I mean, that's about 5x the revenue of the entire NFL, so it must be at least 5x as important.

Re:Well it's "only" 50 billion (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44712691)

I mean, that's about 5x the revenue of the entire NFL, so it must be at least 5x as important.

At least they're both non-profits....

Too much secrecy, not too little, is the problem (5, Insightful)

InterGuru (50986) | about a year ago | (#44712679)

Thought experiment: What if just before we went into Vietnam and Iraq, someone leaked all our intelligence about these countries. There is a good chance the outcry would have stopped these stupid/criminal wars.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (3, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44712709)

Iraq and Vietnam were different cases. In Iraq, the evidence was manufactured at the outset to get us in there. In Vietnam, it was a misunderstanding of the internal politics (a civil war) plus lies later on about how badly things were going.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712883)

Both cases, false casus belli.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44712999)

Not identical, but not that different either.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (5, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#44713141)

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=vietnam+CIA+false+flag+ [google.com]

Like Iraq, Vietnam was also based on manufactured false information. You may limit your reading to the wikis, or you may dig deeper, as you wish. But, Tonkin Bay, which was the primary igniter in getting our troops into Vietnam was entirely a false flag operation.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713363)

Incorrect. The Generals wanted to invade Vietnam, regardless of any facts, to make themselves look powerful. What they expected was to win the war quickly.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713389)

you're completely wrong about Vietnam.

Vietnam started at the request of France. They wanted the US military to help back them up in Vietnam because they were losing control of it [Vietnam being a colony of France at the time]. France turned the revolution in Vietnam into a civil war, with the revolutionaries turning into the VC and the other side becoming our guys. The US was pulled wholesale into the conflict by the NSA and the Johnson administration distorting information around the gulf of tonkin incident.

We started in Vietnam to support France's colonial interests, and went all in because the administration of the time faked intelligence. There was absolutely no misunderstanding of vietnam's internal politics.

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712871)

So what your saying is that the secrecy of the US govt. spying on it's citizens will be understood by all when the US goes to war against it's citizens? I'm not sure I follow....

Re:Too much secrecy, not too little, is the proble (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44713013)

Re: against it's citizens and spying on citizens?
Most countries have a file or team working on that tricky problem. What to do when the war toll, contractor prices, taxes and safe jobs get out of sync and real people fill the streets of a few cities in protest.
What can be done? Print more cash and offer big jumps to wage, stock and pension plans?
Celebrity fun? A calming national event?
Fine contractors and expose their political friends?
Ask the special forces and the trusted military if they have any small tanks in the area to clear the streets with?
Ask the clandestine services just how many of the "protesters" are really informants?

What is new (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44712681)

Agent recruiting - this was exposed in the Church reports wrt to US press/universities and their very close role to the US gov.
Spending has been sort of public but out by 50% seems too low?
Offensive cyber-operations - very public in many comments about direction changes and new missions, recruiting needs.
Insider threats - that is interesting. All the new contractors and rushed language needs add up to people with pasts and family connections/faith well outside the USA.
The "anomalous behaviour" has been in the US press and the FBI/task forces really did try on that but little was done.
The China, Russia... spy back list would be well understood by many over the years.
One-third of all spending going on a tactic is amazing in its mission creep/dreamy contractor wealth. Considering the US faces real nations with real tech/people/charm/skills.
Seems the Iran, China and Russia and North Korea get a feeling they are under constant electronic supervision, keep to ~"one time pads" and keep the chatter down? Back to the 1950's vs the floods of later cold war data?
Lethal strikes - the press is understanding the double tap drone strikes, locals using tracking devices for US pay.
Master such complexity? The US needs human spies "again", ie DIA/CIA and so many others will get the budgets. So many issues? The US faces a tactic/nations with people who know not generate masses of easy to collect data.
The "structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy" - the press, past authors and researchers seem to have been doing fine work.
To see any comment on the National Reconnaissance Office is very different.
The CIA’s dominant position/paramilitary role is news? The NSA got extra cash and listened much 'more'.
The internal “moderate progress” comment is interesting. Night raids, drone strikes, informants and gathering information will "hold" any war with endless funding...
"Large protests" seems to hint at ever more US funded NGO and colour revolution efforts, 20 somethings with banners, stickers, web 2.0 skills .... waiting for that great optics moment when some regime uncovers their funding connections.
"Russian chemical warfare countermeasures" handing lots of cash to skilled Russians is not working?
The great news for the US is the research projects hint- thats at lot of cash flowing within the US for ~math, ~science ~language grads.
Long term the world seems to understand they are all on ENIGMA like units and their communications might want to take on a more imaginative role?
Will the question of who allowed the "applicants and contractors" vetting to become an issue be tracked back to the policy or just fixed?
Someone allowed the US to change its very good vetting...

May well be the Most Transparent Administration... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712697)

...thanks to Edward Snowden.

Re:May well be the Most Transparent Administration (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about a year ago | (#44713379)

The public needs to know about these budgets. Now we have no way to know the growth rate of this budget over the years and we have no real way to know if these agencies get enough money or too much money. So what good is a vote? One can not vote with any clarity when important information is held back.

I want my $157 back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712721)

$52B / 330M US population = $157 for every man, woman, and child.

I don't think I received $157 worth. Maybe I got $50 worth? And I feel like I probably only need about $25 worth.

Re:I want my $157 back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713373)

A year of dropbox costs $99, so you're really getting free location tracking and number-plate reading satellites thrown in.

My favorite part (5, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#44712753)

I loved when Clapper tried to minimize the number by saying that it accounts for "less than 1% of GDP". Not 1% of government revenues, not 1% of the government's total budget. 1% of fucking GDP is his chosen comparison. That's like someone claiming they're not an alcoholic because they only drink one bottle a day, and Jack Daniels makes thousands!

Re:My favorite part (1)

notanalien_justgreen (2596219) | about a year ago | (#44712881)

Yeah, especially when NASA's budget is ~0.1% of GDP. We bitch about NASA's inability to get anywhere these days, but here the NSA is blowing far more money doing far far less. I hope the Republicans can finally jump on this bandwagon now that the issue can be framed as "government waste" instead of "protection from terrorists". It amazes me that conservatives have given Obama such a free pass on all of this so far. Hopefully that changes now.

Re:My favorite part (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about a year ago | (#44712945)

It amazes me that conservatives have given Obama such a free pass on all of this so far. Hopefully that changes now.

It amazes me how you or anyone else can see this happen time and time again and still believe that we have two distinct parties.

Jefferson knew what a two-party system would become and specifically warned against it. At some point they both realize they can play the voters in the middle, sort of like "good cop, bad cop". For maximum effect, switch roles once in a while. Then people support a given one for irrational, emotional, tribal, "my team" reasons and stop thinking critically. Take a hard look at the world of US politics and tell me this isn't exactly what's happening. Then make the next tiny leap and understand that someone definitely benefits from this, and it is not accidental.

Re:My favorite part (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44712897)

Yes we have seen that "chosen comparison" like idea used on Slashdot. If you forget data compression and keep raw footage/recodings no real data can be stored for very long.

Re:My favorite part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712993)

Or that their blood alcohol level is only 0.1%. But then neglect that if that's all the time, they have a serious problem.

intelligence-gathering collosus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712859)

that was unable to detect a couple young known terrorists from detonating explosives at the Boston Marathon.

Epic. Fail.

Three law of robotics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44712907)

The US has a terrible habit of toppling governments and destabilising the world. I have little doubt that some of these funds will also go towards improving this regime's ability to rain down death and destruction on innocent people with their flying robotic bombs.

As a nation who used chemical attacks on the innocent peoples of Vietnam this abhorrent regime needs to be overthrown by it's people and every single one of it's leaders since the 1950s tried for warcrimes against humanity.

The day that Obama is found guilty by the Hague and hung will be joyous day for the world.

Shut It Down Burn It Jail Them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44713241)

A Colossal "Tinker Toy" works worth $56 billion dollars!

Breaking of software patents, copying copyrighted code, plagiarizing the most mundane of copyrighted documents and all at Tax Payer Expense.

And for what?!

NOTHING!

OH! Obama needs now to bomb Syria.

Why? His poll number are soft and that equates into less donations to the DNC!

So Obama needs to kill about 130 million Syrians to bump up his poll numbers and the DNC's donations rate.

And the Bastard Obama wont even give his dick suckers in Congress the time of Day!

Look at England! Cameron LOST! Why? Democracy!

Obama flaunts that he as a "Constitutional Law Scholar"! NO! Obama never passed the exams! Not only the entrance exams! He only Bought a degree(s) thanks to some 'interesting friends' who payed money, but not HIS money nor HIS time!

Obama knows nothing about the U.S.A. Constitution, nor State Law, nor local law!

Say the word 'Ignorant' and you have the Picture Of Obama!

The best place for Obama is a solitary confinement cell in San Quentin. Or, "!", he decides on his own to commit suicide!

Now that's the 'solution' to the 'Obama' debacle.

Go Obama Go
Go Obama Go
Round The Bowl
Down The Hole
Go Obama Go

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