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U.S. Government Spent over $80 Billion Last Year in Intelligence

The U.S. government revealed that it has spent over $80 billion in the past 12 months on intelligence. This is the first time the government has announced how much it spends not only on civilian intelligence gathering such as the CIA and NSA but also how much the military spends on intelligence. The figure, an increase of seven percent since last year, shocked people who have been calling for fiscal restraint on Capitol Hill. Spending on intelligence for 2010 exceeded the $42.6 billion spent on the Department of Homeland Security and the $48.9 billion spent on the State Department. The Military Intelligence Program cost $27 billion and this year was the first time the government released this figure. This does not include costs associated with Iraq and Afghanistan which have not been released. The total is more than double the amount spent pre-9/11. The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are calling for fiscal restraint on intelligence spending which they claim to has gotten out of control. Secretary Robert Gates promised to investigate methods to cut costs, eliminate waste, and reduce unnecessary duplication in intelligence to lessen spending.

While wishing to increase cost efficiency in intelligence is a good idea, the political rhetoric concerning this issue avoids asking whether the United States simply should not spend so much on intelligence. Secretary Gates said he did not believe that the intelligence bureaucracy grown to large and instead focused on trimming excess such as duplication. However, the rhetoric seems to avoid the question of whether the United States should have so much intelligence capability. Perhaps the best way to cut costs is to cut intelligence services as well.

The release of the spending figures and the aghast that followed have encouraged intelligence agencies to prepare for budget cuts. CIA Director Leon Panetta has stated he plans to adjust his agency to the probable upcoming spending cuts. Gates says he plans to cut $100 billion from the Pentagon’s budget. The release of the above figures will probably make the United States more aware of its intelligence spending. Homeland Security and other organizations that are involved with intelligence gathering will have to structurally reform themselves in expectation of serious budget cuts in spending.

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