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"If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."
— Wes Nisker, Radio Commentator

Black History and the Black Budget

Hi everyone, welcome back to Fiscal Friday, this is Bess Byers with A Generation Empowered. February is Black History Month, so today we’re discussing the governments top-secret Black Budget. It’s a topic more serious than most, so we’ve enlisted special guests to help us report four facts about this confidential spending. Let’s get going.

FACT 1: THE BLACK BUDGET IS THE ANNUAL AMOUNT OF MONEY THE UNITED STATES SPENDS ON GOVERNMENT SPY AGENCIES KNOWN AS THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden brought this funding to light in 2013 when he presented the information to the Washington Post. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt) said revelations of individual agency budgets was not just news to Americans but also most of Congress.

FACT 2: PRESIDENT OBAMA REFUSED TO DISCLOSE SPENDING LEVELS FOR SPECIFIC INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES IN HIS 2016 BUDGET. HOWEVER, THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DISCLOSED THE ADMINISTRATION’S SPENDING REQUEST IS $53.9 BILLION, UP FROM $50.4 BILLION IN 2015.

Last year, 62 members of Congress (39 - D, 22 - R) signed legislation that would’ve forced disclosure of spending levels for specific agencies.

FACT 3: THE FIVE MOST FUNDED BLACK BUDGET AGENCIES ARE: THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, NATIONAL RECONNAISSANCE OFFICE, NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM AND THE GENERAL DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM.

Spending for agencies is divided into four main categories: data collection, data analysis, management facilities and support, and data processing and exploitation. While the CIA spends $11.5 billion on data collection, the NSA spends $2.5 billion. The National Spy Agency also spends $1.6 billion on data procession and exploitation, $1.5 billion on data analysis and a whopping $5.2 billion on management, facilities and support. [[NSA needs a gutting]]

FACT 4: AS OF 2013, THERE ARE AN ESTIMATED 107,000 EMPLOYEES IN THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY. 

Over 83k are full-time equivalent civilian employees, 23k are military positions and 21k are full-time contractors. NSA employs an estimated 15,000 military personnel, or 64 percent of its staff.

And here are some other black history facts…

According to a Department of Veterans Affairs study, Vets comprise one-third of the male homeless population, and 56 percent of these men are African American.

The 2010 US Census Bureau found African Americans represent 41 percent of the emergency and transitional shelter population, even though they are 12.6 percent our total population.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of January 2015, 11 percent of the African American civilian labor force was unemployed. That number jumps to 31 percent for black teens ages 16 to 19.

African Americans now constitute 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population and they are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. (Source: NAACP)

The average African American freshman graduation rate, according to a 2010 Department of Education study, is the lowest in the country at 66 percent.

While it’s important to keep America safe through surveillance measures, has our government taken surveillance spending too far? Could funds be redirected to programs that improve low-income minority communities?

Before I go, it’s important to note some numbers are from 2013 and finding statistics on the Black Budget are especially difficult in the NSA monitored and government supported Google. Disclaimer: these numbers might be out of date or inaccurate, because I’d like to wake up tomorrow. 

Additionally, all today’s news correspondents were paid with homemade sack lunches.

This is Bess Byers, signing off, and remember, it’s your generation and you’re empowered!

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