Jeffrey Lewis$44 B Intelligence Budget

Steve Aftergood and the Federation of American Scientists have been suing for years to force the USG declassify aggregate intelligence budget data. The CIA has long responded that such information could cause serious damage to national security and compromise intelligence sources and methods.

Then, all of a sudden, Deputy Director National Intelligence Collection Mary Margaret Graham let the cat out the bag.

US News and World Report national security reporter Kevin Whitelaw perked up when she said the intelligence budget was $44 B, writing in Washington Whispers” …

The biggest oops! of the week goes to career CIA officer Mary Margaret Graham, now the deputy director for national intelligence collection.

You see, Uncle Sam is very good at keeping secret how much the CIA and 14 other agencies spend on intelligence, even going to court to prevent the figure from spilling out. But at a conference in San Antonio, Graham let slip that the budget is a whopping $44 billion.

Scott Shane in the New York Times has some backstory. I’d take it easy on Graham, who has much better secrets to keep than this.

Analysts—including this one—have long reverse-engineered rough estimates of the intelligence budget from scraps of public information.

In December 2004, I estimated that the intelligence budget must have been around $41 billion (“Mapping the Intelligence Budget,” Arms Control, December 15, 2004).

Late Update: The oops may not have been an oops after all.