Leaked Documents Reveal Budget Breakdown Between CIA, NSA

Details of the top secret budget of U.S. intelligence agencies have been made public — revealing not only that the nation spends more than $50 billion a year on intelligence but also some detail about how that money is spent. The Washington Post published excerpts of a 2013 budget justification obtained from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. In the past, the total amount spent on intelligence has been declassified by the U.S. government. The document reveals not only which agency spends the money but also what missions are top priority.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

There are more secrets out today, this time about how U.S. intelligence agencies spend their money. The revelations are from documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Washington Post. One headline: The CIA Is Doing Better Than the NSA.

NPR's Tom Gjelten has more.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: We already knew how much the intelligence agencies were spending overall, about 50 billion a year. We did not know what that money was going for. Now, we have an idea. The CIA is a winner. A leaked budget request for 2013 showed that intelligence officials wanted to spend 28 percent of their money on the CIA. A budget mistakenly released 20 years ago showed the CIA back then getting just over 10 percent of intel dollars.

Meanwhile, both the NSA and the National Reconnaissance Office or NRO, which operates satellites, now get less than they used to, relatively.

Steven Aftergood is with the Federation of American Scientists.

STEVEN AFTERGOOD: NRO used to be close to twice the budget of CIA, and NSA was 25 percent bigger than CIA. And now, those numbers have nearly reversed, and it's CIA that is 50 percent bigger than those other agencies.

GJELTEN: Part of this is due to the CIA's big role in going after terrorists. The budget showed 2.6 billion for covert action programs, which include drone operations.

After 9/11, intel spending skyrocketed. In the new environment, it is shrinking. The document shows where.

AFTERGOOD: This may be the single most interesting page. Some programs are being preserved or enhanced while others are being cut.

GJELTEN: Spending on cyber and communication intercepts is up. Spending on personnel and IT is down. The leaked document also reveals the gaps that existed as of last year: Like, what's up with Pakistan's nuclear weapons or any political intrigue in Russia? And about the new leadership in North Korea, intel officials admit to knowing next to nothing.

Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

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