The Latest Snowden-Fueled Report: The "Black Budget"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 29 2013 2:47 PM

The Latest Snowden-Fueled Report: The "Black Budget"

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In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images

The Snowden-fueled reporting just keeps coming. The Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Greg Miller report on the latest leak: a detailed summary of the federal government's "black budget," a document that lays out the specific objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, along with their cutting-edge technologies and ongoing operations. Perhaps even more importantly, the summary also details those same agencies' successes and failures:

U.S. 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, according to the government’s top secret budget. The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013 ... maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. ...
The Washington Post is withholding some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods. Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.
The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of individual surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes. They are organized around five priorities: combating terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear and other unconventional weapons, warning U.S. leaders about critical events overseas, defending against foreign espionage and conducting cyber operations.
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Slate will have more on the new revelations in a bit, but for now head on over to the Post to read Gellman and Miller's exhaustive report, and check out the paper's accompanying interactive.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.