The U.S. spent $75.4 billion on its military and civilian spy agencies in the last fiscal year, officials announced Tuesday.
The U.S. intelligence budget is divided between the Military Intelligence Program, which the Pentagon said was $21.5 billion for fiscal 2012, and the National Intelligence Program, which was $53.9 billion, according to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.
The National Intelligence Program (NIP) funds the CIA and other civilian agencies and provides some funding for the major military agencies such as the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency.
"The NIP supports national decision-makers, so, to the extent that the NSA and other agencies in the Department of Defense provide intelligence to the president or other civilian leaders, they are funded from the NIP," said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, who advocates for more transparency in U.S. intelligence funding.
Mr. Aftergood said the fiscal 2012 NIP budget was $700 million lower than the previous year's, noting that "it's the first drop in the NIP for many years."
The NIP budget had risen every year since it was first disclosed in 2007, he said.
Only the so-called "top-line" or total of the budgets are disclosed. Officials claim that releasing more detail would provide potential adversaries with too much information.
"Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified NIP budget information because such disclosures could harm national security," said a statement from Mr. Clapper's office.
Mr. Aftergood was skeptical, calling the statement "an attempt to forestall requests for any further information."
He noted that officials had maintained for years that disclosing the top-line would damage national security, adding that there have been no adverse effects since it was first disclosed.
"Is it literally true, if we knew the budget total for the Defense Intelligence Agency, that national security would be harmed? I doubt it," Mr. Aftergood said.
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