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Truth Squad: Is Obama administration's anti-terrorism spending adequate?

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 3:09 AM EST, Wed November 23, 2011

Editor's note: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series

(CNN) -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry challenged the Obama administration's decisions involving national security, accusing the administration of being "an absolute failure" in spending to support military intelligence during Tuesday night's debate.

The statement: "Here's the other issue that I think we've really failed at and that is in our ability to collect intelligence around the world. And this administration in particular has been an absolute failure when it comes to expending the dollars and supporting the CIA and the military intelligence around the world to be able to draw in that intelligence that is going to truly be able to allow us to keep the next terrorist attack from happening on American soil."

The facts: The United States spent $54.6 billion for nonmilitary intelligence programs in the 2011 fiscal year, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Department of Defense requested $24 billion for military intelligence programs in 2011, according to the Pentagon, for a total of $78.6 billion.

That's a cut of $1.5 billion (less than 2%) from the total in 2010, when the figure for nonmilitary intelligence programs was $53.1 billion, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

That year, the military spent an additional $27 billion on its intelligence apparatus, said Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan, bringing the total to $80.1 billion, an increase of more than 6% over 2009 spending.

The United States spent $49.8 billion on its national intelligence programs in 2009, according to previous reports. The amount designated for military battlefield intelligence remains classified. However, in 2009, then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told reporters the total cost for all intelligence gathering was $75 billion. That would indicate the amount spent strictly on military intelligence was approximately $25 billion.

The United States spent $47.5 billion in 2008 and $43.5 billion in 2007 on its national intelligence programs, according to previous reports.

The total amount spent for nonmilitary and battlefield intelligence is more than double what it was before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Still, hard decisions are looming. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last month that cuts to intelligence programs will be in the double-digit billions over the next decade.

Verdict: Misleading. Whether the administration is spending enough to keep the next terrorist attack from happening is subject to debate, but the total represents a significant increase in spending over the course of Obama's tenure. The Obama administration also has been responsible for the capture and killings of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, so to call it "an absolute failure" is not justified.

CNN's Pam Benson and Adam Levine contributed to this story

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