- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Bush administration is proposing a big budget increase for the CIA to pay for its role in the U.S. war on terrorism.

The proposed 2003 budget contains an increase, estimated to be between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, that would bring the agency's budget to above $5 billion annually. Precise figures were unavailable; U.S. intelligence spending is classified. The CIA's annual budget was previously believed to be around $3.5 billion.

The agency, which has faced some criticism for failing to detect the September 11 attacks, has been a leading force in the war on terrorism, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In the days after the attacks, President Bush endorsed CIA Director George J. Tenet's plan for covert war against the al Qaeda network, and CIA officers were operating in Afghanistan well before the first U.S. military units arrived.

The proposed increase is believed to include spending to train and arm counterterrorist teams in many of the countries supporting the war on terror, as well as augment the capabilities of those countries' own intelligence services.

Large spending spikes at the CIA typically represent a major ramping up of covert operations or, occasionally, a new satellite program, experts said.

Many countries prefer to receive U.S. aid of this nature quietly, although the Philippines lately is a notable exception. The U.S. military is working openly with that country's military to root out guerrillas linked to the al Qaeda network.

The spending increase includes the CIA augmenting its own paramilitary force. CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann, killed in the prison uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif in November, was a member of this force.

The CIA would also receive money to train and deploy more traditional case officers overseas, said a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Increased funds would be provided for unmanned aerial vehicles, like the Predator drone, which both collected intelligence and attacked targets with Hellfire missiles during the war in Afghanistan.

"George Tenet was given a blank check to wage covert warfare against al Qaeda," said John Pike, an analyst at GlobalSecurity.org.

Other increases were expected throughout the U.S. intelligence community, which has a total budget estimated at between $30 billion and $35 billion. The exact figure is classified, but the community received about an 8 percent boost for this year, officials said.

The community includes several military organizations, including the National Security Agency, which conducts communications intelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office, which designs and operates spy satellites; and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which interprets satellite pictures and makes military maps.

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