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August 29, 2013

US spying successes, failures, objectives detailed in top secret 'black budget'

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The documents describe expanded efforts to "collect on Russian chemical warfare countermeasures" and assess the security of biological and chemical laboratories in Pakistan.

A table of "critical" gaps listed five for North Korea, more than for any other country that has or is pursuing a nuclear bomb.

The intelligence community seems particularly daunted by the emergence of "home grown" terrorists who plan attacks in the United States without direct support or instruction from abroad, a threat realized this year, after the budget was submitted, in twin bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The National Counterterrorism Center has convened dozens of analysts from other agencies in attempts to identify "indicators" that could help law enforcement understand the path from religious extremism to violence. The FBI was in line for funding to increase the number of agents surreptitiously tracking activity on jihadist websites.

But a year before the bombings in Boston the search for meaningful insight into the stages of radicalization was described as one of "the more challenging intelligence gaps."

The documents make clear that U.S. spy agencies' long-standing reliance on technology remains intact. If anything, their dependence on high-tech surveillance systems to fill gaps in human intelligence has only intensified.

A section on North Korea indicates that the United States has all but surrounded the nuclear-armed country with surveillance platforms. There are distant ground sensors to monitor seismic activity and platforms to scan the country for signs that might point to construction of new nuclear sites. U.S. agencies seek to capture photos, air samples and infrared imagery "around the clock."

In Iran, new surveillance techniques and technologies have enabled analysts to identify suspected nuclear sites that had not been detected in satellite images, according to the document.

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