Why Do We Spend Billions on the National Security State While We Let Detroit Go Bankrupt?
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The existence of a secret US budget, amounting to a well-financed shadow government, used to spy on American citizens and monitor their daily activities, was always derisively consigned to insane conspiracy theorists. After recent revelations by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, called a traitor and being forced to hide from the Obama Administration in Russia, the existence of this budget is no longer in question. Snowden has smoked out the details of the secret budgets used by the intelligence community, known as the “Black Budget.”
The reported amount of this budget is approximately $52.6 billion. These funds are in addition to the congressionally-approved budgets of the Armed Forces and the Department of Defense of $526.6 billion dollars for a total of more than half a trillion dollars. According to the National Priorities project:
“In the Obama administration 2014 fiscal year, the administration is seeking a $526.6 billion budget for the Department of Defense, not including war funding or nuclear weapons activities at the Department of Energy.”
According to the Washington Post, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) receive nearly 68% of the black budget. During a peace-time economy, the budgets of the five intelligence agencies have grown exponentially while urban cities and social services have dwindled. For example, the CIA budget was increased to $14.7 billion dollars, a 56% increase since 2004. The NSA budget for domestic and international spying has increased to $10.8 billion dollars or 53% since 2004. The NRO, the office purportedly responsible for designing, building and operating the country’s imagery satellites increased its budget to $10.3 billion dollars or 12% increase since 2004. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA) that provides imagery and map-based intelligence increased its budget to $4.9 billion dollars or an increase of 108% since 2004. Finally, in 2004 the General Defense Intelligence Program that conducts, collects and documents human and technical intelligence and media management within the DoD increased its budget to $4.4 billion dollars.
“Snowden has smoked out the details of the secret budgets.”
These kinds of intelligence organizations have operated in every repressive government to control populations, such as East Germany’s Stasi organization that deterred dissent, free speech and basic civil liberties of its people. In recent BAR articles, I explored “Big Brother” programs instituted and operated within the U.S. Federal government, such as the “Insider Threat Program,” created by President Obama under Executive Order 13587. This program is designed to predict any behavior by an employee in the government that could lead to blowing the whistle on corruption and abuse, contradicting his campaign promises to protect whistleblowers, enshrine government transparency, combat activities inimical to the very tenets of our basic democratic principles and rights under the law. (See BAR here, here and here.) Edward Snowden’s revelations continue to inform and illuminate the American media and public about a government operating in the shadows without accountability to the people or any pretense of adhering to democratic principles. We can only assume that there are additional funds unreported within these secrecy organizations. Yet, the country suffers from high structural unemployment, sky rocketing poverty rates, inferior education for low-income communities, infrastructure decline and environmental degradation.
The recent 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington reminds us of the FBI surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s that escalated after the march under the pretext that he was affiliated with communist organizations. This FBI surveillance earned King the label of “the most dangerous Negro in America.”
Had the US civil rights movement that was celebrated on the National Mall with pomp and presidential ceremony occurred today, the $56.2 Billion dollar budget and its thousands of foot soldiers would have left no stone unturned to undermine and destroy the movement and its leaders leaving some to face life in prison, like Bradley Manning, or others to seek refuge in foreign lands like Edward Snowden.