While President Donald Trump keeps tweeting, tangible issues keep raging on across the globe. To address some of those national security issues, his administration has unveiled a public version of its intelligence funding request for the 2020 fiscal year. Overall, they want nearly $86 billion for the nation’s spy services, including $62.8 billion for the intelligence programs currently overseen by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and $22.95 billion for the military’s intelligence program.
The request for funding at those levels from Congress constitutes a 6 percent spike over the previous year. Further details of the funds planned allocation are secret, but indications point towards the money being meant to support a counter to Russian and Chinese cyberwarfare — which is deeply ironic considering how feverishly Trump has at times dismissed those continuing threats.
He’s had to be goaded into even acknowledging the evidence that Kremlin agents ever meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections in the first place. He’s taken scrutiny of those operatives’ activity as some kind of personal attack on his ego and repeatedly slammed the Russia “hoax” as an excuse the Democrats dreamed up to explain away their 2016 election loss, sending the opportunity for him to participate in keeping America secure against cyberintrusion from foreign powers up in smoke.
Still, at least some of the federal government keeps chugging along. The newest funding request for the nation’s intelligence services is the first following new national security and national intelligence strategies. The New York Times summarizes those documents as outlining a “new great-power competition with” Russia and China, and anonymous “current and former officials” confirmed to the publication that the latest budget request reflected that shift in thinking with a focus on beefing up the United States’ technological capabilities.
The Times shares that the nation’s intelligence budgets have seen a significant rebound under the Trump administration, with civilian intelligence funding requests undoing a downward trend in 2016 and military intelligence spending following soon after, just last year.
The spikes are doubly ironic because Trump hasn’t just dismissed the threats the money is meant to address — he’s also undercut those responsible for addressing them. After recent Congressional testimony in which Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray countered some of Trump’s key foreign policy claims, he suggested they should “go back to school.” They’d asserted that the Islamic State terror group was not defeated, North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear program any time soon, and the Iranians did not pose a secret active nuclear threat to the world — all points on which Trump has diverged.
After a private meeting with the intelligence chiefs, Trump changed his tune and claimed it was “fake news” that they’d ever disagreed with him, despite their testimony being plainly available for all to see.
The Trump team’s newest request for funding for their agencies has to go through Congress, but it’s less likely to be a source of contention than other recently revealed budget requests — like the over $8 billion for the border wall blocking off Mexico Trump has long sought to address crime that isn’t there.
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