Report warns against cutting intelligence budget

By KIMBERLY DOZIER | May 24, 2011 | 3:15 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Current and former spies and other intelligence professionals are warning that the United States could end up with the same intelligence failures that led to the Sept. 11 attacks if Congress cuts funding for the intelligence community too deeply.

A report being released Tuesday by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance warns that the last time the U.S. declared victory in a long-term intelligence war — against the Soviets in the '90s — the government slashed intelligence operations in Africa, just as al-Qaida took root.

Lawmakers say that while they are keeping the spy budget just about flat for 2011 and 2012, it's still above $80 billion for the third straight year.

And they have quietly agreed to keep funding the CIA unit that found al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.