Even spies not immune to budget cuts
CIA seal on floor at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia Photo By: CIA
October 17th, 2011
06:26 PM ET

Even spies not immune to budget cuts

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Pam Benson

The dramatic increases in the U.S. intelligence budget are coming to a screeching halt with billions of dollars in cuts expected over the next decade, according to the nation's chief intelligence officer.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the GeoInt conference in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday that the cuts will be double-digit billions over the next 10 years for the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the other groups that make up the 16-member intelligence community.

The total amount spent for non-military and battlefield intelligence was approximately $80 billion for the fiscal year that ended last month, more than double what it was prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Clapper told CNN the cuts mandated by the Office of Management and Budget represents a lot of money, but the community has "pretty much figured out a way to do" it. He warned, however, that it will mean accepting some risk.

"I'm trying to use this as well as an opportunity to make some improvements. It's bad, but it's not all doom and gloom, but to be clear, we will be accepting some risk. We will not have quite the capability that we have today, which is very substantial," he said.

Clapper said the cuts will not be done by "salami slicing." The first priority will be protecting what he called "the most important resource we have ... our people." Without getting into detail, the director said certain capabilities will be maintained and there will be investments in new ones.

"Those are the resources that have the highest payoff and serve the most masters, meaning the most intelligence demands," Clapper said.

One area where there could be substantial savings is information technology). "If we can have an integrated (IT) enterprise, we would save a lot of money ... and, by the way, promote integration and be efficient," he said.

At a congressional hearing last month, Clapper said presiding over the budget cuts would be a "litmus test" for his office.

"Now that we're in a 'we're running out of money so we must begin to think' mode, I think that is serving as the stimulus, if you will, to do some more creative thinking," he said. And he vowed to be "rather cold-hearted and objective about the real contribution various systems make."

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Filed under: 9/11 • CIA • Clapper • Intelligence • ODNI • Terrorism
soundoff (11 Responses)
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  5. dave

    If they want to keep their budgets then the people in office need to creat jobs for people...this would would meen more income tax time. I think we need to put imbargos on preselcted items coming into the states. Build factories and creat jobs around these freed up products like Tvs for instence(It dosen't have to be Tvs but it gives you an idea). This would restart the global market. I think this is going to be a depression soon if they don't start working on createing jobs.

    October 24, 2011 at 12:41 am | Reply
  6. Ross Nicholson

    Spies have variable financial outcomes. Success can be disastrous personally for loyal government agents. Agents can accomplish their missions so well and so off the books secretly that the most fabulous successes in history go unrewarded with poverty and neglect. Even those agents who work directly for great leaders and heads of state (in my case four US presidents, Ann Richards, Steven Spielberg, Julian Bond, Ron Kirk, Strobe Talbot, etc.) rewards can be meager indeed. Right now, foreign agents working with the Kennedy assassination group are doing the best. The US treasury has been their piggy bank. JFK assassin team member and Nixon blackmailer, Eugenio Martinez, owns a luxury car dealership in Miami, for instance. The rest of the surviving Plumbers (Alexander Haig is dead) and their families have entered the US Senate and want the presidency (via Marco Rubio) with complete impunity bought by the drugs they administer to investigators from the FBI. Oh well.

    October 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  7. linda harper

    i think that all of this new political news is just drama! y should we be worrying about other countries when America is falling into a deep hole of depression and finance? Who is going to help us? who will save us when we are attacked again?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:45 am | Reply
  8. James D

    Now tell me, how do you go about laying off a CIA Agent. What about their unemployment checks? Who do they send them to? Thats stupid–Do we stop the world becaus Obama has made such a mess of everything–

    October 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
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      October 21, 2011 at 3:59 am | Reply

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