Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Sometimes you stumble across a parody of a news story that's so expertly crafted you'll be four, five, maybe even six paragraphs in before you slap yourself on the coconut and say "Wait a minute! These guys are yankin' my crank!"
Of the 40 main recommendations spelled out in the Sept. 11 report, one of the few that the White House could carry out immediately would be to lift the veil of secrecy on how much the government spends on intelligence . . . .
The current level of secrecy, the commission wrote, "practically defies public comprehension'' in that "even the most basic information about how much money is actually allocated to or within the intelligence community and most of its key components is actually shrouded from public view.''
To help "judge priorities and foster accountability'' among intelligence agencies, the commission argued that the White House should make public not only the overall budget number, but the top-line figure for each of the 15 intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Agency. The overall number is now widely understood to be about $40 billion, and even a more detailed agency-by-agency breakdown, the commission argued, could be achieved without providing details that could aid American foes . . . .
[S]enior administration officials said Wednesday that the proposal was "very much alive'' among the ones being considered by President Bush and his senior advisers as they weighed action that the White House could take, either on its own or with Congressional approval.