The Pentagon's spending on secret programs has hit its highest point
since the end of the Cold War, a Washington-based research group said in a report
released this week.
Classified programs appear to account for about $30.1 billion, or 19
percent, of the acquisition funds sought in the Defense Department budget for
fiscal 2007, according to the report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
In real terms, the 2007 request was for more classified spending than in any
defense budget since 1988, near the Cold War's end, when the Pentagon received
an inflation-adjusted $29.4 billion for such projects, it said.
Classifying Pentagon programs means they get less oversight by Congress, watchdog
groups and the media.
The record of such programs has been mixed, said Steven Kosiak, the report's
author, noting that the F-117 "Stealth" fighter jet and the radar-evading
B-2 bomber were among the successes.
But reduced oversight has contributed to failures like the U.S. Navy's A-12
attack aircraft, canceled in 1991, Kosiak noted.
Secret programs also have tended to spawn "fringe science" -- like
antimatter weapons, psychics and telepathy -- because they were protected from
outside scrutiny, said Sharon Weinberger, author of "Imaginary Weapons:
A Journey through the Pentagon's Scientific Underworld."
She contends that the Defense Department, citing a need for secrecy to protect
national security, is in effect shielding "bad science" from peer
review at a net loss to taxpayers.
In his study, Kosiak said classified funding sought for Pentagon purchases
had more than doubled in real terms since fiscal 1995, when it reached a post-Cold
Since 1995, funding for classified acquisition programs has grown at a faster
rate than funding for acquisition programs overall -- up 64 percent in real
terms, the report said.
The Air Force's fiscal 2007 budget request contained the biggest share of the
Pentagon's classified acquisition funding -- more than three-quarters of the
Classified programs account for about 44 percent, or $14.1 billion, of the
Air Force's procurement request and 39 percent, or $9.6 billion, of its research
and development request, Kosiak said, citing Pentagon budget documents.