Jim Kouri
January 3, 2013
Congress cuts intelligence budget for 2013 despite global dangers
By Jim Kouri

At the same time as the U.S. Senate released a report lamenting the intelligence deficiencies suffered in the Banghazi consulate slaughter on Sept. 11, 2012, the U.S. Congress on New Year's Eve drastically cut the budget for U.S. intelligence agencies, including satellites and other technology, beginning in 2013. But defenders of such cuts claimed that President Barack Obama wanted more drastic cuts.

In an 11th hour vote on Monday night, The House of Representatives voted in favor of a Senate-passed bill to the $72 billion budget for intelligence agencies, adding cash for the counterterrorism fight against al-Qaeda, and the counterintelligence fight against foreign governments involved in economic espionage against the United States.

"If you look at what Mr. Obama prioritizes, he appears to be more interested in spying on American citizens and conservative groups than on Islamic terrorist organizations, drug cartels and those wishing to harm the U.S.," said political strategist Michael Baker.

The House removed several measures meant to block the leaking of classified information. The provisions were removed when some lawmakers objected to a series of news stories that anonymously quoted senior administration sources describing sensitive intelligence programs, such as the process by which targets are chosen for lethal drone strikes overseas.

The FY13 Intelligence Authorization bill, S.3454, passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 373-29, and now heads to the President's desk for his signature.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger praised the bill's passage.

The intelligence authorization bill is one of the critical national security bills the House passes each year. It provides and allocates resources to vital national security programs, including those that detect and disrupt potential terrorist attacks against the American people.

The bill is significantly below last year's enacted budget, but also up slightly from the President's budget request. The House Intelligence Committee unanimously voted to report the FY13 bill to the full House on May 17, 2012 and it originally passed the House on May 31, 2012, with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Senate passed its version of the authorization bill on Dec. 28, 2012, after extensive negotiation between the House and Senate committees. With today's vote, the House approved the version approved by the Senate and has sent the legislation to the President for signature.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Feinstein (R-Calif.) said, "This bill marks four straight years of Congress passing an intelligence authorization bill. This bill provides important oversight provisions while authorizing funding for critical national security programs. The bill has been carefully negotiated between the two committees, our House and Senate colleagues, and the executive branch, and I look forward to the president signing it into law."

"I am pleased that Congress has passed this annual intelligence authorization bill, which allows the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to provide comprehensive oversight of the nation's intelligence community. It is imperative that Congress provide oversight to hold the intelligence community accountable for its fiscal and legal responsibilities," said Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ala.).

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers (R-Mich.) noted, "The current challenging fiscal environment demands the accountability and financial oversight of our classified intelligence programs that can only come with an annual intelligence authorization bill. This important bill reaffirms to the hard-working men and women in the intelligence community that Congress is united in ensuring they have the tools they need in order to do the very difficult and dangerous work of keeping America safe."

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) added, "It is our responsibility on the Intelligence Committee to give our intelligence professionals the resources, capabilities and authorities they need to keep our country safe. This bill does this while keeping costs in check. It invests in personnel and programs that are working and cuts things that aren't. I look forward to the President signing this bill to make it law."

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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