Black Budget business booming: inside the Pentagon's secret spending

Pentagon
The Pentagon’s classified programs make up about 10 percent of its budget and continues to grow, despite plans to wind down wars. RT’s Kristine Frazao takes a closer look at what the Black Budget is and discusses what very little we know about it.

The Black Budget is made up of secret intelligence programs and weapons research that American taxpayers almost never see, but pay for anyway.

“The Black Budget is the term we give to everything in the budget, everything in the defense budget that’s classified,” said William Sweetman, the editor of Defense Technology International.

It all started with the Manhattan Project, the program to build an atomic bomb, when the US government spent more than $2 billion in secret.

Today it’s estimated between 8 and 10 percent of the entire budget is unknown. It may not seem like a lot, but the cost of the secret stuff is on par with the entire military budgets for France and the UK and even more than Germany’s.

Tim Weiner, a New York Times correspondent and author of Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget, said, “You can’t keep spending money like this and maintain an empire. This is how empires fall. “

But military officials argue the empire needs security — and that covert operations and classified weapons research need to be conducted without congressional oversight, on the grounds that oversight would compromise secrecy.

Weiner said the process is actually illegal.

“Our Constitution demands a public budget, so when we spend money in secret, we’re violating our own Constitution,” he said.

Other critics wonder how much of the things budgeted for are actually produced — or are produced but never used.

“I don’t think anybody has an issue keeping tactics, techniques and procedures under wraps,” Sweetman said. “But it becomes a pretty big deal when you’re concealing its existence.”

Another criticism is that despite drawing down the war in Iraq and making plans to draw down the war in Afghanistan, the black budget has skyrocketed over the last few decades.

Some say it is the post 9-11 mentality and its effects on the way this country prioritizes security in all forms. Many say this mentality is here to stay, that with concerns about countries like Iran and North Korea and other threats, there will be plenty to keep black budget business booming.