The Trump administration has dramatically increased the funding for intelligence actions that include espionage activities aimed at Russia, China and North Korea, according to some documents that were revealed by the Defense Department and the director of national intelligence, Fox News informed.
The numbers confirmed President Trump’s fierce approach to information warfare, which has seen the Pentagon unveil a new cybersecurity strategy and the Justice Department launch a Cyber-Digital Task Force while pursuing a comprehensive crackdown on leakers.
The U.S. spent $81.5 billion on civilian and military intelligence in the most recent fiscal year, an 11.6 percent boost from the previous year, figures show. And $59.4 billion went to the National Intelligence Program, which encompasses the CIA, the NSA and divisions of the FBI – an increase of roughly $5 billion last year.
The DNI is obliged by law each year to provide those high-level totals, national security concerns preclude officials from discussing more agency-specific data. But the information was suggestive of the heightened investments in cyber warfare by major U.S. adversaries.
The spending confirmed Trump’s long-held concern about a variety of potential threats, whether they are coming from the Chinese espionage or the Russian hackers.
In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had taken the dramatic step of rolling back classified Obama-era regulations that had made it harder for U.S. agencies to launch cyber attacks of their own on foreign entities. The paper quoted a top U.S. official describing the move as an “offensive step forward,” although some observers raised concerns that inadvisable cyber activities, potentially including some domestic operations, could result.
“Every day, malicious cyber actors infiltrate computers and accounts of individual citizens, businesses, the military and all levels of government,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at the Aspen Security Forum in July. “The Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is just one tree in a growing forest. Focusing merely on a single election misses the point.”
Also speaking at the Aspen forum, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats echoed Rosenstein and offered a window into the kinds of threats the U.S. increasingly faces.
“We’re now learning about the dark side, and it’s pretty ugly,” Coats said. “What we see every day, against our institutions, against our military, against our financial services, against our critical infrastructure — stretching from those who have major capabilities of doing this, starting with Russia, including China. … Add Iran into that, add ISIS into that.”