It’s clear that America is increasingly less secure under President Joe Biden based on the jaw-dropping testimony of senior U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials Wednesday during a hearing on “Worldwide Threats” before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Here are just a few frightening highlights—and an analysis—of the unclassified testimony from the director of national intelligence and the directors of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The People’s Republic of China, under President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, is a growing problem. It’s a near-peer competitor of the U.S. and the biggest foreign threat to U.S. national interests.
China is working to outpace the U.S. diplomatically, economically, militarily, and technologically. Indeed, the “Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” that was presented to the committee reiterated what so many already knew—that Beijing intends to make “China the preeminent power in East Asia and a major power on the world stage.”
To this end, “the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] will work to press Taiwan on unification, undercut U.S. influence, drive wedges between Washington and its partners, and foster some norms that favor its authoritarian system,” according to the assessment.
Among other matters, Chinese technology (e.g., TikTok) and COVID-19’s origins in China (e.g., the lab leak theory) were also of great interest and concern to committee members in the question and answer portion of the hearing.
Everyone is aware of Russia’s year-old, unjust war on Ukraine and the wide-ranging repercussions of its aggression, including, as noted in the assessment, the scary possibility of “a military confrontation between Russia and the West.”
Along these lines, this war also includes the potential first use of nuclear weapons since World War II—in Ukraine and beyond. Russia’s growing, potentially mutually beneficial relationships with China and Iran are also of concern.
Tehran is another major threat to American and international security with its long-standing support of terrorism, including its hosting in Iran of the new head of al-Qaeda and dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Terrorism and nuclear weapons—not at all a good mix.
Additionally, the threat assessment stated, “Iran will continue to threaten U.S. interests as it tries to erode U.S. influence in the Middle East, entrench its influence and project power in neighboring states, and minimize threats to the regime.”
You don’t hear much from the White House these days about the Kim Jong Un regime and its threat to U.S. interests and to those of our allies (e.g., Japan and South Korea) and friends, but we should.
According to the intelligence community’s threat assessment, Kim is “continuing efforts to enhance North Korea’s nuclear and conventional capabilities targeting the United States and its allies, which will enable periodic aggressive actions to try to reshape the regional security environment in his favor.”
The annual threat assessment hearing also included additional issues such as climate change, health security (e.g., COVID-19), transnational issues (e.g., migration, illicit drugs, and terrorism), and ongoing international conflicts and internal strife, among others.
Let’s just say that difficult days are ahead.
Equally troubling to what was included in written testimony and heard in the open hearing is the prospect of the classified intelligence that will be shared in closed session, where additional secret information is given to committee members.
Of that supplemental intelligence divulged behind closed doors to committee members, we’ll likely come to know very little, but, in my estimate, the unclassified assessments that were disclosed today in public were frightening enough.
The breadth of issues covered in the report is vast—a collection of the judgments of 18 U.S. intelligence organizations. Indeed, I recommend you take the time to watch the hearing and/or read the testimony. Just make sure you’re sitting down.
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