Sunday, February 29, 2004

The CIA's "black budget" 

Here is a very interesting study of the CIA's budget. On the one hand, the CIA has secret "black" projects funded through the defense budget, where they appear with cryptic one-line descriptions like "CLASSIC WIZARD" or "special evaluation program." Congress knows about this practice and tolerates it; some project details naturally need to be kept secret. However, Michael Salla, the study's author, claims there is a whole set of supersecret "deep black" CIA programs which do not even appear in the budget at all. According to Salla, the money to fund these programs is "laundered" through other federal agencies such as Housing and Urban Development.

What is surprising is that there should be a need for this kind of circuitous (and possibly illegal) means of funding. After all, the only information publicly known about the "black" projects is the size of their budgets; what can be so secret about these "deep black" programs that not even the size of their budgets can be released? Because of the deceptive way in which they are funded, these programs are completely free from congressional oversight.

The CIA's "black budget" practice seems to violate Article I sec. 9 of the constitution which reads in part

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

Interestingly, as Salla points out, there is special language in the CIA's mandate which exempts it from these budgetary constraints. The constitutionality of these exemptions has been challenged with mixed results.

UPDATE: Here is another, much older, article on the black budget.
Back to the Odd Hours main page
© 2004 Odd Hours
Reproduction permitted provided Odd Hours or the author of the quoted post is credited.