Connect to share and comment

Obama budget cuts funds for US spy agencies

PlacardEnlarge
(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

President Barack Obama's proposed budget unveiled Wednesday calls for cuts of at least $4.4 billion to America's intelligence agencies, in a sign of growing fiscal pressures.

Obama is requesting $48.2 billion for the CIA and other spy agencies starting October 1, down from a proposed $52.6 billion for fiscal year 2013, according to the national intelligence director's office.

Separately, the Pentagon said it had requested $14 billion for military intelligence programs, down from $21.5 billion spent in fiscal year 2012.

The figure reflected a trend in recent years, with the Pentagon -- which funds a number of spy services -- scaling back intelligence spending since 2010.

But the numbers released did not include funding related to the war in Afghanistan or other "overseas contingency operations," officials said.

The intelligence budgets pay for an array of spy satellites and high-tech equipment as well as tens of thousands of employees, including analysts, linguistic experts, cryptologists, cyber specialists, paramilitary operations such as drone strikes and traditional spies in the field.

The US government only recently began disclosing figures on intelligence funding, but the latest announcement offered no breakdown of the spending on what is widely considered to be the world's largest intelligence budget.

Apart from the funding reductions envisaged in the president's request, the intelligence agencies are already facing steep automatic budget cuts due to a long-running political impasse in Congress.

The rolling cuts have prompted National Intelligence Director James Clapper to warn that spy agencies will have to "do less with less" and that reduced funding could undermine their ability to prevent a potential attack on the United States.

"We will reduce human, technical and counter-intelligence operations, resulting in fewer collection opportunities, while increasing the risk of strategic surprise," Clapper told lawmakers in March.

ddl/oh

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130410/obama-budget-cuts-funds-us-spy-agencies