Spies Spill: We Spent $47 Billion Last Year



For a long time, the country's intelligence budget was considered so sensitive, the spies refused to give taxpayers even a rough, top-line estimate of how much of their money was being spent. But last year, Congress forced the spooks to be just a little forthcoming. Which is why the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) today revealed that the spy agencies spent $47.5 billion during the past year -- a jump of nearly 10% over 2007.

The admission may not seem like a big deal. But even this limited information has some value. "The disclosure shows that even after a decade of sharp increases, intelligence spending continues to grow significantly," says Steven Aftergood, a long-time intelligence observer with the Federation of American Scientists.

It's only the fourth time since the beginning of the Cold War that the total intelligence budget for the year has been disclosed. Aftergood and the Federation sued the CIA in 1997 to reveal the annual intelligence budget ($26.6 billion). The CIA voluntarily provided the 1998 total ($26.7 billion). Then the agency stopping spilling. Subsequent lawsuits were turned back.

Now that the spies have talked, don't expect to get much more budget information from 'em. "Any and all subsidiary information concerning the intelligence budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed," an ODNI statement says. "Beyond the disclosure of the top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified budget information because such disclosures could harm national security."