from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 46
May 23, 2002
CONGRESS ADDS $1.5 BILLION FOR INTELLIGENCE
- CONGRESS ADDS $1.5 BILLION FOR INTELLIGENCE
- THE LIMITS OF INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT
- APPROPRIATORS BLAST BUSH BUDGET "FLIPPANCY"
The 2002 supplemental appropriations bill that is now working its way through Congress includes $1.5 billion for intelligence and intelligence-related activities, according to an unscripted disclosure on the House floor yesterday.
"With the $1.5 billion included in the supplemental, intelligence funding has increased to record levels since September 11," said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) on May 22. See:
This would be fairly unremarkable except for the fact that official mention of intelligence budget figures is considered strictly verboten in the intelligence community.
The Central Intelligence Agency, which will apparently say just about anything, even contends that disclosure of half century-old budget totals from 1947 and 1948 would damage national security and jeopardize intelligence sources and methods! This remarkable claim is the subject of pending litigation against the Agency.
The intelligence budget totals for 1997 and 1998 were officially declassified several years ago in response to a lawsuit brought by FAS and the Center for National Security Studies. But the CIA recently denied a request for declassification of the 2002 intelligence budget total. This denial will be challenged in federal court later this summer.
THE LIMITS OF INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT
The perennial question of intelligence budget disclosure provides a key to comprehending the limits of intelligence oversight, since the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees both supported budget disclosure before assuming their chairmanship, but have actively or passively opposed it thereafter.
Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, voted in favor of annual disclosure of the intelligence budget total the last time the proposal came before the Senate on June 19, 1997. But now that he is in a position to actually do something about it, he has been silent.
Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, endorsed the unanimous recommendation of the 1996 Aspin-Brown-Rudman Commission, of which he was a member, calling for annual disclosure of the intelligence budget appropriation -- as well as the next year's budget request. Ever since then, however, he has resisted any step to implement this recommendation.
The clear implication is that service on the intelligence committees entails a compromise of one's principles and a subordination of one's best judgment to the demands of the intelligence bureaucracy.
For this reason, the committees are probably incapable of conducting a rigorous investigation of the institutional defects that may have contributed to the terrorist attacks of September 11. An outside commission that is not locked in perpetual negotiations with the intelligence agencies would be better positioned for the task.
APPROPRIATORS BLAST BUSH BUDGET "FLIPPANCY"
The Bush Administration's budget requests have shown a "flagrant and flippant disregard of the need to inform Congress," according to the new House Appropriations Committee report on the latest supplemental appropriations bill for 2002.
Furthermore, "The Administration's supplemental request for the Department of Defense was not accurate in several instances. For example, OMB requested additional funds for intelligence related activities in incorrect and inappropriate accounts. In order to execute the Administration's proposal for intelligence programs, the Committee is recommending changes to specific appropriation accounts," the report stated.
"The Committee expects that the Administration, and particularly OMB, will take seriously the need to provide Congress with timely and meaningful materials in support of its budget requests. The flagrant and flippant disregard of the need to inform Congress adequately must cease."
Notwithstanding this display of temper, the House Committee approved almost all of the Administration's spending requests. See House Report 107-480, dated May 20, here:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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