Associated Press
June 12, 2002

Open-Government Advovate Sues CIA

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - An open-government advocate sued the CIA on Wednesday to get the government to disclose how much money it is spending on intelligence operations this year.

Steven Aftergood, with the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists, said the government's release of the single classified number widely estimated to exceed $30 billion this year cannot damage national security.

"The idea that this is somehow sensitive is ludicrous," Aftergood said. "Budget disclosure is the most rudimentary form of government accountability. It is the one category of information where disclosure is required by the Constitution."

CIA spokesman Paul Nowack declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"There are very legitimate, well-founded national security reasons for not publicly releasing this classified budget figure," Nowack said.

The congressional intelligence committees are kept informed of the classified intelligence figures, he noted.

Aftergood's lawsuit is filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act, which mandates disclosure of government documents that don't contain certain kinds of sensitive national security, proprietary or personal information.

The CIA's budget alone is thought to have increased from roughly $3.5 billion to roughly $5 billion since Sept. 11.

In a separate lawsuit, Aftergood is also seeking disclosure of the agency's 1947 and 1948 budget totals, which the CIA has also declined to provide.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press