WASHINGTON, August 30 (RIA Novosti) – Secret “black budget” data leaked by Edward Snowden shows the United States has built a global “espionage empire” employing over 100,000 people in 16 spy agencies and costing tens of billions of dollars annually, the Washington Post reported Friday.
“US spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats,” the Post said in its latest story based on documents leaked by the fugitive US intelligence contractor.
The United States allocated $52.6 billion this year alone to a secret budget to finance programs run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and a host of other government intelligence bodies ranging from unmanned drone strikes to email and phone surveillance.
The Post said the documents it received from Snowden described “cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations.” The paper said it withheld some information in the documents after consulting with government officials because “sensitive details are so pervasive” in them.
“Experts said that access to such details about US spy programs is without precedent,” the article stated.
Among the “notable revelations” the Post said the documents from Snowden contained was that spending by the CIA has “surged” past all other spy agencies, including the NSA, and that Israel, a close US ally, was among countries considered “priority targets” for US counterintelligence operations.
“There is a mind-set in the national security community: ‘Leave it to us, we can handle it, the American people have to trust us,’” the article quoted Lee Hamilton, a former congressman and one of the most respected US voices on national security issues, as saying.
“They carry it to quite an extraordinary length so that they have resisted over a period of decades transparency …. The burden of persuasion as to keeping something secret should be on the intelligence community, the burden should not be on the American public,” Hamilton told the Post.
The Post story was the latest in a string of revelations in newspapers led by the Guardian of Britain based on the documents leaked by Snowden. The former NSA contractor and CIA employee is in hiding in Russia where he was granted one-year temporary asylum on Aug. 1.