U.S. Domestic Surveillance Budget Fiscal Year 2006
A [budget is a] reflection of values in the language of dollars and sense. -- Samuel S. Markowitz
Federal Budget Ups Surveillance Spending
President Bush's proposed $2.57 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2006 greatlyincreases the amount of money spent on surveillance technology and manpower while cutting about 150 programs, many from the departments of health, education, farming, housing and the environment.
The Department of Homeland Security would receive $41.1 billion, an almost 7% increase in its budget. Homeland Security wants $847 million to create the office of Screening Coordination and Operations, which would oversee vast databases of digital fingerprints and photographs, eye scans and personal information from millions of Americans and foreigners. This office would be responsible for United States-Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) (this gets about $390 million of the $847 million), Secure Flight and Crew Vetting ($94 million), Free and Secure Trade ($7 million), NEXUS/Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection ($14 million), Transportation Worker Identification Credential (pdf) (TWIC) ($244 million), Registered Traveler ($22 million), Hazardous Materials Trucker Background Checks (pdf) ($44 million), and Alien Flight School Checks ($10 million). The last $20 million of the $847 million budget would go to theTransportation Security Administrations's "Credentialing Start-up."
According to the budget, "the mission of the proposed Office of Screening Coordination and Operations (SCO) is to enhance the interdiction of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism by streamlining terrorist-related screening by comprehensive coordination of procedures that detect, identify, track, and interdict people, cargo and conveyances, and other entities and objects that pose a threat to homeland security." The budget goes on to say that "the SCO would produce processes that will be effected in a manner that safeguards legal rights, including freedoms, civil liberties, and information privacy guaranteed by Federal law." It is unclear, however, what steps the office intends to take to protect these rights.
Homeland Security also wants $73.3 million for cybersecurity; $20 million for the Border Patrol, a part of Customs and Border Protection, for sensor, communication and video surveillance capabilities along borders; $51.1 million for America's Shield Initiative, which enhances electronic surveillance capabilities along U.S. borders; and $3 million for "a system that captures biometric and biographical information with a '10 Print' fingerprint reader, and computer based facial imagery of foreigners entering the U.S." This system "is now operational at all Border Patrol stations, every air and seaport of entry, and the 50 busiest land ports of entry.
"Under the proposed budget, the FBI will receive $555 million - an increase of 11% from 2005 and 76% from 2001. Of that, the FBI will spend $9.9 million and have 80 positions that enhance its surveillance capabilities. This significant increase in FBI funding comes just a week after a report by an Inspector General found that the agency's poor planning and bad management were the main reasons that the FBI will have to abandon a $170 million computer upgrade. The FBI acknowledged in January that the software for the system is already outdated.
The National Science Foundation would receive $5.6 billion, which includes a 2.4 percent increase in research funding, but a decrease in its education budget. The budget specifically provides $94 million in funding for research related to cybersecurity; $803 million for projects in networking and information technology, including advanced computing and information-management technologies; and $344 million for nanotechnology research.
Last month, foundation director Arden Bement told the National Journal's technology daily that the foundation research priorities follow those that are set out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget. "You'll find activities throughout our whole program reflecting those priorities," he said to the National Journal. Those priorities included homeland security research and development, nanotechnology, and networking and information technology research and development.
This continues a dramatic shifting in the research priorities of the traditional science organizations, such as the National Science Foundation, toward new surveillance technologies. In Last October, EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg joined other recipients of the Norbert Wiener Award for Professional and Social Responsibility in an open letter warning about this shift in research priorities.
While expressing support for new technologies that will identify dangerous substances, the letter said that left unchecked, the consequence of this shift in research priorities "could be the adoption of systems of mass surveillance unrelated to any terrorist threats. This will give the government sweeping new capability to monitor private life and thus diminish the freedom and liberty of Americans." The letter stressed that privacy and civil liberty concerns must be addressed in the early phases of research and made a priority throughout implementation. The letter was accompanied by a brief survey of technology programs currently funded by the federal government, including US-VISIT, the Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange and other data mining and mass surveillance initiatives.
Highlighting FY 2006 Surveillance Technology (pdf)
Government Printing Office's web page for budgets for the last ten
April 27, 2005