Intelligence: Covering for Stupid Satellites


16, 2005:
The United States has, once more, revealed (apparently accidentally)
the size of its intelligence budget. It's $44 billion a year. Normally, that
number is a state secret. For two years in the late 1990s, the size of the
budget was published (it was then about $30 billion a year in 2005 dollars).
The budget had been steadily growing, from the 1960s (when it was a few billion
dollars in current money), as more and more spy satellites were built. That's
where most of the money goes. Most of the increase, from the late 1990s (about
$12 billion), has gone into people. For the last two decades, less money was
spent for spies on the ground, while more was put into more expensive and
capable spy satellites. But ever since the spy satellites came on the scene,
many in the espionage community warned that, experience in World War II had
shown that the "eye in the sky" did not show everything, and was easy to
deceive. This was wise advice, for there was ample airborne photography
available during World War II (using aircraft) and captured enemy documents
right after the war to show how often, and by how much, the air photos were
misleading. This wisdom asserted itself once more after September 11, 2001. But
the satellite barons still have most of the money, although they are taking a beating
in Congress because of budget overruns and systems under-performance.


Article Archive

Intelligence: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close