US intelligence agencies warn of threats from new and old foes
US intelligence agencies are grappling with the “most complex and diverse threats ever seen” from a host of adversaries, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday while unveiling his office’s new National Intelligence Strategy.
Among those named in the strategy were the expected — Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — as well as a raft of non-state actors and terrorist threats that “pose challenges within traditional, non-traditional, hybrid, and asymmetric military, economic, and political spheres.”
The new strategy, which sets the agenda for the country’s 17 intelligence agencies and has been released every four years, also placed on emphasis on the need for the intelligence community to be more transparent and to ensure its voice is heard in the national security conversation.
“One of the things that’s awesome about America is that people hate being duped,” a senior official in Coats’ office told a gathering of journalists after Coats addressed around 180 members of the office’s staff.
While many of the stated strategic goals in the 36-page report remains similar to years past, the document released Tuesday outlines how the US intelligence community must address evolving threats “particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing, and other emerging, disruptive technologies.”
“We face significant changes in the domestic and global environment; we must be ready to meet 21st century challenges,” Coats wrote in a letter that accompanied the document. “To navigate today’s turbulent and complex strategic environment, we must do things differently.”
Senior officials told reporters that Russia and China are collaborating on artificial intelligence and also highlighted the growing influence of Beijing as it forms strategic partnerships with Latin American and African nations.
The US intelligence community must become more “agile” and use the most “advanced technology” available in order to implement three guiding parts to its mission, according to Coats: Value-based integration, innovation, transparency.
As for the four countries named at the top of the report, the strategy asserts those nations “will continue attempts to gain and assert influence, taking advantage of changing conditions in the international environment — including the weakening of the post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals, increasingly isolationist tendencies in the West, and shifts in the global economy.”
That warning comes amid new reports that President Donald Trump raised the idea of withdrawing from North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.
Trump has been clear in his criticism of NATO and has knocked allies for failing to pay enough for their defense. Meanwhile, Russia has long attempted to divide the alliance, and a US exit would be seen as a major victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Democratic-controlled House passed 357-22 a bill Tuesday showing strong congressional support for the NATO alliance amid recent reports that Trump raised the idea of withdrawing from NATO several times last year.
The bill states that it’s US policy to remain a member of NATO and prohibits funds from being used to withdraw from the alliance.
Last year, the Republican-led Senate approved a motion of support for NATO the same day that Trump arrived in Brussels, Belgium, for a NATO summit. And a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require Senate approval for the US to withdraw from NATO.
However, asked specifically about whether Trump’s comments made it life more difficult for the intelligence community, senior ODNI officials emphasized that their job is not more or less complicated based on who is in the White House and that the strategic environment remains the same regardless of who is President.