For the first time, the annual intelligence bill passed by the House discloses more than two dozen “earmarks” — spending items inserted at the request of a lawmaker — the only parts of the legislation’s $40 billion-plus budget for U.S. intelligence to be publicly revealed.
The earmarks, totaling just under $100 million, were disclosed for the first time under new House rules intended to curb abuses, reports Shaun Waterman of the United Press International.
By far the largest of the earmarks, $23 million, is to keep open the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), a multiagency federal facility based in the Pennsylvania district of Rep. John P. Murtha, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, criticized the center, opened more than a decade ago, as a “Clinton-era pork boondoggle.”
The center, designed to channel intelligence about the drug trade from different federal agencies, was slated for closure in the Bush administration’s 2008 budget proposal, after a review by the Office of Management and Budget. Last year, a House Government Reform Committee report called NDIC, which is run by the Department of Justice, “an expensive and duplicative use of scarce federal drug-enforcement resources.”