Secrecy is Transparency.
In the spirit of the transparency — of which the Obama administration claims to be a champion — there will be no details regarding the allocation of non-military intelligence spending in the president’s final budget request to Congress.
According to a press release from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), fiscal year 2017’s budget totals $53.5 billion, but don’t ask which agencies or programs will receive the funds — “because such disclosures could harm national security.”
Of course, the ODNI congratulated the self-titled most transparent administration in history for its laudatory lucidity, anyway.
“Reflecting the Administration’s commitment to transparency and open government, this Budget continues the practice begun in 2012 of disclosing the President’s aggregate funding requests for the [National Intelligence Program],” stated an ODNI fact sheet.
Considering such disclosures became a requirement under the law in 2010, that pat on the back seems superfluous, if not smug.
“That’s a business as usual claim,” said Representative Peter Welch, according to US News & World Report. “There is no transparency there — they’re complying with the thinnest of laws about the [aggregate budget] number. Members of Congress and the American public really are learning nothing.”
US News also reported Welch first learned of the 16 individual intelligence agencies’ budget allocations, along with the rest of the U.S. populace, thanks to Edward Snowden’s disclosures revealed by the Washington Post in 2013.
Welch also explained that although members of Congress aren’t restricted from viewing the specifics of intelligence program appropriations, they are prohibited from discussing the contents — “It’s like going in there with a blindfold and coming out being mute,” he mused. In fact, objecting to the classified budget allotments would mean being “escorted off the House floor in handcuffs” — though it wasn’t entirely apparent whether Welch intended sarcasm in saying so.
Despite the revelations in Snowden’s massive document releases, and his ambitious aspirations to bring transparency to governmental operations, the Obama administration continues to thwart attempts to force the matter — and not only will it continue to do so, but administrations that follow will almost certainly continue the pattern.
In the meantime, it should come as no shock that we will never be completely privy to the intelligence programs we fund through our taxes.
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