President Trump has proposed raising the espionage budget in the United States to a massive $86 Billion, a 6% increase on what was already an eye-watering figure. The budget comprises $62.8 Billion for the national intelligence programme such as the CIA, NSA, etc and $22.95 Billion for the Pentagon’s intelligence programme (essentially, military hardware including such things as spy satellites). However, this does not represent a complete picture of government spending as certain elements of intelligence spending are disguised in other budgets.
The increase is seen as part of the President’s attempt to restore morale in the intelligence community. He has frequently criticised them, calling for them to “go back to school” in January of this year because they did not support his analysis of the threat posed by Iran. He has also called his intelligence services “naive”. He has sacked those who have opposed him such as James Comey at the FBI and has appointed others who have proved controversial such as Gina Haspel, the infamous “Thailand Torturer”, who he made Director of the CIA.
The increase is also in line in what is sometimes referred to as the current golden age for intelligence agencies. Almost every nation is increasing spending on intelligence and many agencies have moved in to new facilities and have increased manpower. The number of terrorist attacks is actually near a record low for modern times, but it is believed that any individual terrorist attack has the capacity to be far more deadly than ever before and therefore the threat requires greater attention. This, coupled with increased military tension in various parts of the world, supposedly justifies the increased spending.
Whether this represents value for money is a subject for debate.