Trust Us, We’re Spies (continued)

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Tenet’s statement went on to say: “The difference between the appropriation for one year and the administration’s budget request for the next provides a measure of the administration’s unique, critical assessment of its own intelligence programs. A requested budget decrease reflects a decision that existing intelligence programs are more than adequate to meet the national security needs of the United States. A requested budget increase reflects a decision that the existing intelligence programs are insufficient to meet our national security needs. A budget request with no change in spending reflects a decision that existing programs are just adequate to meet our needs.”

Hogwash, says Aftergood. “Because the intelligence budget request and appropriation are aggregates of many hundreds of individual programs, the total budget figures do not reflect an overall assessment of U.S. intelligence at all,” he wrote in a rebuttal to Tenet’s declaration. “The single budget figures can conceal massive turmoil or natural growth or anything in between.”

Martin adds that, “If you examine the reasoning of [Tenet] in his declaration, it’s illogical on its face.” In fact, Aftergood notes, Tenet’s own declaration would seem to indicate he himself is guilty of damaging national security because he allowed the release of the budget totals in 1997 and 1998.

The CIA did not even address that central point in its final appeal, according to Martin and Aftergood. “It nowhere explains why, if it was not harmful to release the budget number for ’97 and ’98, it’s now harmful to release it for ’99. They have no answer to that,” Martin said.

What the CIA did offer is an almost sneering indictment of the plaintiffs’ argument, asserting that Aftergood used “tortured logic and vague references to government ‘bad faith’ in his attempt to persuade this Court that it should substitute plaintiff’s judgment about risks to national security for the well-reasoned judgment of … Tenet.”

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