from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 58
June 5, 2007

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Classified budget numbers concealed in an unclassified PowerPoint document suggest that total U.S. intelligence spending is significantly larger than generally assumed, perhaps around $60 billion annually.

The briefing document, prepared by Terri Everett of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), was first obtained by Tim Shorrock of Salon, who wrote a probing account of the growing prominence of contractors in U.S. intelligence agencies, who now consume 70% of the total intelligence community budget. See "The corporate takeover of U.S. intelligence," Salon, June 1, 2007:

Annual intelligence contract awards were illustrated in a bar chart in Ms. Everett's briefing document, without dollar figures attached. But by using the edit function in Power Point, it is possible to discern the classified figures that were used to prepare the bar chart.

R.J. Hillhouse, an author and former intelligence officer who writes on intelligence and outsourcing, explained how to retrieve the concealed data in her blog The Spy Who Billed Me. See "Office of Nation's Top Spy Inadvertently Reveals Key to Classified National Intel Budget," June 3:

The data appear to indicate that $42 billion was awarded to contractors in FY 2005. If so, and if that represented 70% of the total budget, as stated in the preceding Power Point slide, it would follow that the total is $60 billion, rather than the $45 or $48 billion usually cited.

Intelligence officials were not available to comment on the disclosure, and a certain amount of deliberate obfuscation surrounds the subject such that it is hard to draw a firm numerical conclusion regarding overall spending. The new budget figures on contractor awards do not distinguish, for example, between "national" and military or tactical intelligence, nor is it clear whether they account for supplemental appropriations.

The Everett briefing document, which had been publicly available on the Defense Intelligence Agency web site, was withdrawn yesterday. But a copy has been posted here (see slide 11):


The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued a proposed regulation for public comment on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

"The proposed regulations address all aspects of FOIA processing, including how and where to submit FOIA requests, fees for record services, procedures for handling business information, requests for expedited processing and the right to appeal denials of information," according to the notice published in the June 4 Federal Register. See:

The ODNI FOIA case log, listing the subjects of all FOIA requests submitted to the ODNI through April 2007, is available here (courtesy of James Klotz and Michael Ravnitzky):

Naturally, the fact that an item was requested does not necessarily mean that it will be released.


Letters sent to Judge Reggie B. Walton regarding the sentencing of vice presidential aide Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of obstruction of justice, were released by the court today. Several of them touched on matters of secrecy and national security policy.

"If there is anyone who fully understands our 'system' for protecting classified information, I have yet to meet him," wrote John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, implying that infractions of classification rules are to be expected.

Former CIA officer Fritz Ermarth recalled that Mr. Libby had assisted him "in a matter, although less grave, somewhat similar to that which put him on trial. It concerned official secrecy and classification, its definition and interpretation, varying recollections of who behaved how with respect to it, and aspects of abuse by authorities."

"Mr. Libby has done more to enable the United States to address the challenges of bioterrorism than any other single person," ventured Seth Carus of National Defense University.

"Scooter worried that liberties restricted during times of danger do not always get restored when the danger passes," wrote Doug Feith, the controversial former Pentagon official. "A major part of the terrorist threat, he and I agreed, was the danger that a series of 9/11-type attacks could fundamentally alter -- perhaps permanently -- the state of civil liberties in America."

Somewhat ironically, Mr. Libby once undertook "to persuade a newspaper not to publish information that would have endangered the life of a covert CIA agent working overseas," wrote former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. "Late into the evening, long after most others had left the matter to be dealt with the next day, Mr. Libby worked to collect the information that was needed to persuade the editor not to run the story."

Most of the letters favor clemency for Mr. Libby. Many of them are poignant and heartfelt. Quite a few others are pompous and self-aggrandizing. An angry minority demand the maximum possible sentence.

The full set of letters in alphabetical order by author may be found here (373 pages in an 18 MB PDF file):

Mr. Libby was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and fined $250,000.


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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