Leaders of the nation’s top intelligence agencies testified at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “Worldwide Threats” hearing on Thursday.
“It is my privilege to welcome a distinguished panel of leaders to our hearing today to discuss the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment,” said Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
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 also testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday, The Daily Signal reported.
Here are five highlights:
1. What Does the Annual Threat Assessment Say?
Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, discussed the Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The report was released on Wednesday.
“This year’s assessment notes that during the coming year, the United States and its allies will face an international security environment that is dominated by two sets of strategic challenges that intersect with each other and existing trends to intensify their national security implications,” Haines said.
“First, great powers, rising regional powers, and an evolving array of non-state actors are vying for influence and impact in the international system, including over the standards and rules that will shape the global order for decades to come,” she said. “The next few years are critical as strategic competition with China and Russia intensifies and in particular over how the world will evolve and whether the rise of authoritarianism can be checked and reversed. How well we stay ahead of and manage this competition will be fundamental to our success in navigating everything else.”
“Second, challenges that transcend borders, including climate change, human and health security, and economic needs made worse by energy and food security, as well as Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine are converging as the planet emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, and all at the same time as great powers are challenging long standing norms for transnational cooperation,” Haines said.
2. Has TikTok ‘Heated’ Content at the Direction of the CCP?’
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., ranking member of the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray about TikTok’s use of “heating.”
“Mr. Wray, you’ve said that TikTok, the popular app on people’s phones, is ‘a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government and it screams out with national security concerns’,” Krishnamoorthi, who is leading the charge with Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., to ban TikTok nationwide, said. “We found that TikTok and ByteDance employees regularly engage in a practice called ‘heating.'”
“‘Heating’ [is] a manual push that ensures specific videos ‘achieve a certain number of video views.’ Mr. Wray, can you rule out that TikTok has heated content at the direction of the CCP?” Krishnamoorthi asked.
Wray replied, “I don’t think we could rule that out.”
3. ChatGPT Helps Krishnamoorthi with Questions
Krishnamoorthi also questioned William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, about ChatGPT. The Illinois congressman claimed he “couldn’t think of any” questions to ask.
“So, I went to ChatGPT and I said, ‘Ask question of CIA Director Burns about threats from ChatGPT,'” Krishnamoorthi said. “It said, ‘Director Burns, what measures is the CIA taking to monitor and mitigate potential risks associated with the use of [artificial intelligence] language models like ChatGPT, and how would you prevent AI language models not to be used by malicious actors to spread false information or influence public opinion?’ That’s from my pal ChatGPT.”
“I’m glad to give you an example, which I’m sure ChatGPT is very well aware of, and that is that if you assume, say, a foreign and adversarial intelligence service where English is not the first language and they’re thinking about ways in which they can come up with compelling spear phishing messages,” Burns said, “it’s logical to use artificial intelligence of one kind or another to produce a message that can be pretty effective in spear phishing and therefore in taking advantage of vulnerabilities.”
“And so what we’re working on with colleagues across the intelligence community are ways of identifying when that kind of spear phishing effort is being made using artificial intelligence by a foreign adversary,” Burns said.
4. Hunter Biden’s Laptop
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Republican conference, questioned Wray about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“Do you believe the Hunter Biden laptop story is disinformation?” Stefanik asked.
“Well, I want to be careful about—there is an ongoing investigation that is relevant to that. So, I have to be careful what I can share on that here,” Wray responded.
Stefanik asked the same question again.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can share on that in open setting,” Wray responded.
Stefanik then asked Wray was if here was “aware that the FBI personnel were in contact with Twitter regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
“I don’t believe FBI personnel were in contact with Twitter about the Hunter laptop story specifically,” Wray said. “I think there were people in contact with Twitter about Russian disinformation efforts.”
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee held a hearing in February about the suppression of the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop story just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, The Daily Signal previously reported.
5. Did the FBI ‘Sign Off on the Mar-a-Lago Raid?’
Stefanik also pressed Wray over the FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last August.
“Did you sign off on the Mar-a-Lago raid?” the No. 3 House Republican asked.
“Well, first off, it was not a raid. It was an execution of a search warrant,” Wray responded.
Stefanik interrupted Wray to ask “Did you sign off on the execution of the search warrant?”
“I don’t sign off on individual search warrants in that case or in any other,” Wray answered.
Stefanik then asked about Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“Did Attorney General Merrick Garland sign off to your awareness?” Stefanik asked.
“I can’t speak to the attorney general,” Wray replied.
Fred Lucas and Peter Brookes contributed to this report.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.