WASHINGTON – U.S. spy agencies spent $47.5 billion in fiscal year 2008, $4 billion more than in the previous budget year, according to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell.
Steven Aftergood, who tracks intelligence spending for the Project on Government Secrecy, called the increase "big news."
"A multibillion budget increase would be significant at any time," he said. "It's even more remarkable today coming after several years of sharp growth in intelligence spending."
Congress in 2007 passed a law requiring intelligence spending to be made public, as the 9/11 commission recommended. The Clinton administration voluntarily disclosed the intelligence budget in 1997 and 1998. It was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively.
But the budgets released a decade ago included additional military intelligence spending not counted in the total released Tuesday, according to Aftergood.
Aftergood's organization, part of the Federation of American Scientists, unsuccessfully sued the federal government in 1999 to compel the Central Intelligence Agency director to release the budget annually.
The annual national intelligence program budget includes money spent by 16 different intelligence entities, from the CIA to the FBI, Pentagon to Homeland Security Department.
Around 80 percent of the intelligence budget is consumed by Defense Department intelligence units, including the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.