Intelligence Chief Reveals Obscure Budget Figure

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:40 pm

To add some clarity and context to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair’s disclosure this morning that the U.S. intelligence budget is $75 billion, it’s helpful to distinguish between two budget lines: the national intelligence program and the military intelligence program, with their inevitable NIP and MIP acronyms. Congress ordered recently that the NIP, but not the MIP,  must be disclosed publicly, and that’s how we know that the U.S. spent $43.5 billion in 2007 and $47.5 billion in 2008 on the NIP, excluding intelligence support to military activities.

Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, clarified that Blair was talking about both figures, together, to make up the $75 billion total. And indeed, on the call in a different context, Blair spoke of no longer bifurcating military intelligence and national intelligence, saying that was no longer an appropriate distinction. Birmingham said that the national intelligence budget had not increased from last year’s $47.5 billion*. If not there has been no NIP increase — and, by law, the director of national intelligence must disclose the budget line in October — that means that the Military Intelligence Program is budgeted at $27.5 billion.

Birmingham emphasized that the MIP total is not a classified number, but ODNI doesn’t put it on its Website, because its not “required by law” to do so. (It does put the national intelligence program figure on the site.) But Steve Aftergood, an intelligence analyst with the Federation of American Scientists who knows more about the intelligence budget than most anyone who isn’t inside the intelligence community, says the MIP number is certainly obscure. There are “no solid numbers on MIP,” Aftergood said in an email. “We knew it was more than $10 [billion] — but not how much more. So the 75B figure is quite interesting.”

Did Blair mess up by implicitly revealing that total? “No, absolutely not,” Birmingham said.

Clarification: Birmingham reiterates that the National Intelligence Program budget line hasn’t increased from $47.5 billion to $75 billion, but the actual total for this year’s NIP won’t be made public until October.

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Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

Wow – seems like a lot of money.

Maybe we can axe it to the bone so we can give a bunch of irresponsible dead beats insurance. Oh wait; isn't that what Clinton did AFTER the first WTC attack?

Top-line Intel Budget Totals $75 Billion « Budget Insight
Pingback posted September 16, 2009 @ 10:46 am

[...] amounted to $27.5 billion.  The intelligence budget, historically kept from the public, was rarely released before Congress mandated that the non-DOD portion of the intelligence budget be disclosed after the [...]

DNI Announces $75 Billion Intelligence Budget | Secrecy News
Pingback posted September 16, 2009 @ 11:26 am

[...] While the NIP budget has been disclosed for the last two years ($43.5 billion in 2007, $47.5 billion in 2008), an official figure for the MIP had not previously been released (although it is not formally classified, an ODNI spokesman told Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent). [...]

DoD Releases Military Intel Program Budget Docs | Secrecy News
Pingback posted October 5, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

[...] ODNI spokesman told the Washington Independent last September 15 that the MIP budget total is not classified– but that appears to be [...]

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Top-line Intel Budget Totals $75 Billion « The Will and the Wallet
Pingback posted September 10, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

[...] Admiral Dennis Blair disclosed the FY 2009 top-line intelligence budget, at $75 billion.  The traditionally opaque intelligence budget is not subject to the same type of public scrutiny as other federal budgets. By [...]

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