October 28, 2008 / 9:49 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. says 2008 intelligence budget was $47.5 billion

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. intelligence budget rose more than 9 percent in fiscal 2008 to total $47.5 billion from $43.5 billion the year before, the director of national intelligence said on Tuesday.

The announcement by the office of Mike McConnell, the top U.S. spymaster, marked only the fourth time that the National Intelligence Program budget has been officially disclosed.

It was made public in keeping with a law enacted last year based on a recommendation of the 9/11 commission that investigated the 2001 attacks on the United States.

The intelligence budget figure does not include spending for the Military Intelligence Program, which is at least another $10 billion, according to Steven Aftergood, editor of a newsletter on government secrecy published by the Federation of American Scientists.

Spending for most intelligence programs is described in classified annexes to intelligence and national defense authorization and appropriations legislation. Members of Congress have accesses to these annexes but must make special arrangements to read them.

Aftergood, in his newsletter, said the aggregate intelligence budget figure included national, joint military and tactical intelligence spending.

The overall figure was first released in 1997 ($26.6 billion) in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists, he said.

In 1998, it was voluntarily released and totaled $26.7 billion, Aftergood said. In 2007, when it totaled $43.5 billion, it was released for the first time under the new congressional mandate.

In a statement on its Web site, the office of the director of national intelligence said no budget breakdown would be disclosed because such disclosures "could harm national security."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, hailed the disclosure.

"This disclosure will make for a better informed citizenry, will increase the accountability of the intelligence community, and will in no way harm national security," he said in a statement.

Under the law enacted law year, the director of national intelligence is required to make public the aggregate amount of funds provided by Congress to the National Intelligence Program not later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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