Snowden Leaks $52 Billion Intelligence Budget, Reveals “Offensive Cyber Operations”

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National Security Agency leaker and new Russia resident Edward Snowden has leaked a top-secret $52 billion intelligence budget to the Washington Post. The partially redacted budget reveals the successes and shortcomings of the United States’ sprawling intelligence apparatus, as well as the justifications for top-line budget items.

The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations,” writes The Post.

The most notable findings are:

  • Long before Edward Snowden leaked details about telephone and Internet monitoring, authorities were worried about rogue contractors with access to top-secret information.
  • The NSA’s ability to monitor al-Qaeda communications is described as “often the best and only means to compromise seemingly intractable targets.”
  • The NSA has a massive army of hackers, analysts and code breakers in a “sweeping category called “Consolidated Cryptologic Program.”
  • The NSA plants so-called “tailored radio frequency solutions,” which the Post describes as “close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.” Similarly, the CIA devotes 1.7 billion (12 percent of its budget) to covert programs for collecting radio and phone communication in hostile territory.
  • The U.S. installs ground sensors to monitor construction of nuclear sites in North Korea.

While the redacted budget itself doesn’t reveal any shocking new details (or reasons to put another layer of tinfoil on your head), it is surprising just how much information that independent analysts like Snowden had access to.

Readers can explore the full budget in an interactive graph here.