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Intel cuts deepen

The race is on between the budget knife and the intelligence community’s information technology overhaul.

The U.S. appropriated $75.4 billion toward intelligence in 2012, a drop of 4 percent compared to 2011, according to figures released by intelligence director Jim Clapper's office and the Pentagon.

The intelligence community is banking that it can roll out modernized information technologies quickly enough to avoid deep cuts to collections and analysis as it struggles to meet the White House budget reduction target.

If you happened to be watching the CNN news ticker, the 2012 reduction was not, in fact, the first time the intelligence budget has been cut since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The U.S. appropriated $78.6 billion in 2011, down from $80.1 billion in 2010, a decline of 1.8 percent.

U.S. law requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to reveal its portion of the intelligence appropriation, called the National Intelligence Program, within 30 days of the close of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The Pentagon traditionally follows by releasing its appropriation for the Military Intelligence Program. Taken together, these two categories constitute the top line intelligence appropriation.

One school of thought says that releasing these figures will ensure a vigorous public debate over the appropriate level of intelligence spending. The appropriations for specific technology and networking programs, however, remain disguised within the annual defense appropriation act, which makes it hard to publicly assess the community's spending priorities.

For 2012, the figures break down like this:

The U.S. appropriated $21.5 billion in 2012 for the Military Intelligence Program, down from $24 billion in 2011 and $27 billion in 2010.

The U.S. appropriated $53.9 billion in 2012 for the National Intelligence Program, down from $54.6 billion in 2011 and $53.1 billion in 2010.

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