After years of trying to keep under wraps the amount of money the U.S. government spends on intelligence collection and analysis, the Director of National Intelligence was forced to reveal the budget figure this year. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community budget was $43.5 billion.
This marks tremendous growth over the past decade, driven largely by counterterrorism efforts and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The intelligence budget stood at $26.7 billion when it was last disclosed publicly in 1998. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the increase in spending over the past decade is about 27 percent.
Both figures cover the National Intelligence Program, which does not include military intelligence programs. When Army, Navy, and Air Force intelligence programs are factored in, the nation's total intelligence spending is believed to top $50 billion.
Still, most of the $43.5 billion falls under the direct control of the Pentagon. While it does include the Central Intelligence Agency, as much as three quarters of the funding goes to Pentagon-run agencies, in particular the eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency, the imagery analysts at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds the nation's satellites.
The budget disclosure was forced by a bill Congress passed this summer aimed at implementing many of the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The bill passed over the objections of senior intelligence officials who insisted that the disclosure could harm U.S. national security, but the 9/11 Commission members and other critics have been advocating the release for many years.