A document leaked by U.S. National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden shows that "Uncle Sam" does not only spy on his enemies, but his allies as well -- labeling Israel as a "priority target," according to a Washington Post report on Thursday.
The Washington Post published parts of Snowden's leaked and highly classified U.S. intelligence "black budget" file. The 178-page report on the budget, which totals $52.6 billion, sheds light on some of the U.S. spy community's darkest secrets.
The introduction to the report states that the U.S. intelligence community faces unprecedented challenges that make setting priorities a difficult task.
"Today's national security threats virtually defy rank-ordering. Capabilities, technologies, know-how, communications, and environmental forces are not confined by borders, and can trigger transnational disruptions with astonishing speed. Never before has the IC [intelligence community] been called upon to master such complexity and so many issues in such a resource-constrained environment," the document said.
The following are a few of the items revealed in the Washington Post report:
The CIA spends more money than any other espionage agency, requesting $14.7 billion in funding for 2013. The sum is almost 50 percent more than what was allotted to the NSA, which operates an extensive eavesdropping network and is usually thought to be the most costly body in the intelligence community.
The U.S. intelligence community is wary of both friend and foe. Pakistan is described in detail as an "intractable target," and counterintelligence operations "are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel."
The CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as "offensive cyber operations."
The U.S. intelligence community has long been wary of potential leakers and what it called "anomalous behavior" by employees and contractors with high level clearance. The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 individuals with access to highly classified information.
Certain governments and groups are proving very elusive and are difficult to gather intelligence on. North Korea's government is the most nebulous, with virtually no knowledge of leader Kim Jong Un's intentions and critical gaps missing on its nuclear and missile programs. Iran, China and Russia have proved difficult to penetrate as well.
Lebanon's Hezbollah movement is considered among the intelligence community's blind spots, though "moderate progress" was noted on information gathering on the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group.