What Does A Spy Photo Cost?

Gregg Easterbrook is unimpressed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which takes "detailed aerial pictures of the Earth’s surface mainly of cities, including America cities" and then overlays those images "with other forms of data". Like several other military agencies it "has a growing budget never subject to public scrutiny and rarely questioned by Congress":

The key point is that Google and Microsoft are able to give away topographic information, or sell it at low cost for $399, Google Earth Pro offers better resolution while a defense agency spends billions of dollars to do the same. As free-market entities, Google and Microsoft are concerned with cost-effectiveness. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, exempt from cost controls and public scrutiny, wants to run up the price: its bureaucrats benefit from empire-building.

This is everything that’s wrong with defense spending in a nutshell.