Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Democratic debate: Fact-checking the candidates

Washington (CNN)The Democratic candidates for president gathered in Las Vegas for their first debate Tuesday, and CNN's Reality Check team spent the night putting their statements and assertions to the test.
The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened throughout the debate, selecting key statements and then rating them: True; Mostly True; True, but Misleading; False; or It's Complicated.
O'Malley said, "We have failed as a country to invest in the human intelligence that would allow us to not only make better decisions in Libya, but better decisions in Syria today. It's a huge national security failing."
Given the opacity of the available data, it is difficult to issue a verdict on O'Malley's statement, but it is possible to provide some context to what he claims.
    The National Intelligence Program requests congressional funding for the intelligence-gathering activities of six federal departments, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
    As a matter of policy, the government does not disclose information about the budget of the NIP beyond the aggregate, or "top-line" amount requested and the amount approved by Congress.
    The most recent year for which data on the approved congressional appropriation for the NIP is available is FY 2014. The aggregate amount approved for the year ending March 2015 was $50.5 billion. This amount represents a 3% increase over the previous year, which saw an annual NIP appropriation of $49.0 billion, partially due to reductions associated with the sequester.
    The amount appropriated in FY 2012, the year during which the attack took place on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, was $53.9 billion, the second-highest appropriation during the decade 2005-2014.
    In August 2013, The Washington Post obtained documents from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden regarding the previously undisclosed $52.6 billion FY 2013 budget, and providing a level of detail that had never been released on a previous U.S. intelligence budget. The documents indicated that the United States has 107,035 employees in the intelligence community. Of these, the largest employer of civilian intelligence officials is the CIA, which had the equivalent of 21,459 full-time civilian employees.
    According to the leaked documents, in FY 2013, "human intelligence operations," consisting of "clandestine acquisition" of documents and other material, "collection by personnel in diplomatic and consular posts" and "official contacts with foreign governments" comprised an annual budget of $3.6 billion.

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