U.S. Spooks Exposed

For years, U.S. spending on intelligence has been one of the nation's best-kept secrets. Forced by a lawsuit to reveal the $26.6 billion total budget last year, the Central Intelligence Agency may try to put it back under wraps. But Washington's Brookings Institute may thwart that effort with a new book, Atomic Audit.

The volume grabbed headlines with estimates that the U.S. has spent $5.5 trillion on nuclear-weapons programs. Less noticed was its road map through spy budgets. Deductive math applied to unclassified Pentagon documents shows that the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency together spent $4.4 billion on espionage research and operations. A $3 billion CIA spy budget, says Brookings, is tucked away in a bland Air Force budget line called "Selected Activities."