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US intelligence agencies black budget detailed

A breakdown of US intelligence’s multi-billion dollar “black budget” has been revealed in files disclosed by leaker Edward Snowden to the Washington Post.

The CIA’s budget is the most expensive, $14.7bn (£9.5bn) out of $52.6bn in total for 16 intelligence agencies, according to the files.

Two of those agencies are also actively hacking into foreign computer networks, reports the Washington Post.

The US has not made public a breakdown of the total intelligence budget.

The newspaper published charts detailing the budget, but did not post all the documents, citing “sensitive details” after US officials expressed concerns about risks to methods and sources.

According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s budget has grown more than 50% since 2004.

‘Priority’ intelligence targets

The files also reportedly show the budget of the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s electronic spying organisation – it apparently requested $10.8bn for 2013, making it second only to the CIA.

Nearly $5bn of the CIA’s budget is allocated to human intelligence operations, with almost $67m of that total reserved for funding the false identities of its overseas spies, according to the files.

The CIA and the NSA have also launched “offensive cyber operations” to hack into or sabotage enemy computer networks, according to the files.

The documents reportedly refer to China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel as “priority” counterintelligence targets. Israel is an American ally, though it has previously conducted espionage against the US.

The NSA is denying one part of Friday’s report – that the agency planned to investigate up to 4,000 cases of possible internal security breaches before Mr Snowden made his disclosures to the media.

Vanee Vines, an agency spokesman, told the Associated Press the effort actually represented a broad reinvestigation of civil personnel to lessen the possibility of security risks.

“Periodic reinvestigations are conducted as one due-diligence component of our multifaceted insider threat programme,” he said.

The documents are the latest in a series of leaks by ex-NSA contractor Mr Snowden, who has been charged with espionage in a federal court in the US.

He is currently in Russia, where the government of Vladimir Putin has granted him a year’s asylum.