The FY 2011 US intelligence budget tops $80 billion. Previously, annual intelligence budgets were not fully disclosed. The decision by the Obama Administration (specifically DNI Gen. James Clapper) to release this information brings welcome transparency to the intelligence and budget processes. In earlier testimony, Clapper stated his support for diclosing the intelligence budget by stating, “I think the American people are entitled to know the totality of the investment we make each year in intelligence.”
In a related move, the $53 million intelligence budget will soon no longer be buried in the Department of Defense budget. According to DNI Clapper, he and SecDef Robert Gates “secured a conceptual agreement” to remove the intellegence budget –which includes the CIA budget– from the defense budget. The $27 billion spend on military intelligence will remain in the DOD budget.
According to Steve Aftergood of Secrecy News, “Restructuring the budget so that spending for the National Intelligence Program is assigned to the Office of the DNI would not guarantee wise or effective intelligence policy. But it would remove a source of pointless obfuscation, and thereby strengthen oversight and accountability.”
Of course, the “Black Budget” will remain in effect. Britain’s national archives have recently declassified files which concern Adolf Hitler’s daily routine during World War II. The documents also reveal Allied concern of a major underground Nazi hideout in the Austrian Alps, supposedly with enough supplies to hold out for two or three years.
Tommy MacPherson –One of Britain’s most decorated World War II Veterans– has published his memoirs. MacPherson escaped from a German POW camp in 1943, returned home, and then parachuted into France to assist the resistance (during which time he engaged in many entertaining, daring ventures which make for wonderful stories). At the end of the war, leading a small group of resistance fighters, MacPherson convinced a German general leading a column of 23,000 soldiers and 1000 vehicles to surrender by falsely claiming to represent a massive Allied army waiting to attack nearby.
Omar Khadr – an Al-Qaeda fighter born in Toronto, Canada – was the youngest detainee held at Guantanamo Bay. He faced a military commission and pled guilty to terrorism and war crimes (fighting with Al Qaeda and the murder of US soldier Christopher Speer). Despite the harsh sentencing guidelines to those found guilty of terrorism charges, Khadr’s plea agreement lowered his sentence from forty years to eight.
And stay tuned to this story: The Department of Homeland Security has been adding an extra layer of screening to FOIA requests for political reasons. This certainly appears to be a blatant violation to the spirit (if not the letter) of the Freedom of Information Act. We’ll let you know how this develops.