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Steven Aftergood

The CIA has yielded to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists for disclosure of the total intelligence budget. This marks the first time since World War II that the U.S. government has acknowledged the size of its intelligence spending. It is also one of the few notable intelligence reforms achieved since the end of the Cold War. Significantly, this move was opposed both by the House and the Senate, and could only be accomplished through a lawsuit. FAS was represented in the lawsuit by Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies.

On October 15, 1997, the CIA issued the following statement:




A lawsuit filed several months ago under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) sought the release of the aggregate budget appropriated for intelligence for fiscal year 1997. Following consultations with the President and appropriate agencies, I am announcing today the declassification and release of this figure.

While the President had previously indicated his preference to take such action in concert with the Congress, the present circumstances related to this lawsuit do not allow for joint action.

Our decision today is premised upon two important points--

First, disclosure of future aggregate figures will be considered only after determining whether such disclosures could cause harm to the national security by showing trends over time.

Second, we will continue to protect from disclosure any and all subsidiary information concerning the intelligence budget: whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs. In other words, the Administration intends to draw a firm line at the top-line, aggregate figure. Beyond this figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified budget information because such disclosure could harm national security.

We believe this action is appropriate because it does not jeopardize the ability of our intelligence agencies to carry out their missions and serves to inform the American people. Accordingly, the President has authorized me to release the information at issue.

The aggregate amount appropriated for intelligence and intelligence-related activities for fiscal year 1997 is $26.6 billion.

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