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Intelligence Chief: US Ability to Detect Threats Degraded

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Mar. 12, 2013, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Mar. 12, 2013, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.
Michael Bowman
The top U.S. intelligence official says automatic government spending cuts are reducing the nation’s ability to detect and respond to threats across the globe, from terrorist plots to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. The comments were made in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators Tuesday that budget sequestration is degrading America’s early warning apparatus for threats at home and abroad.

“Let me now be blunt for you and the American people," he said. "Sequestration forces the intelligence community to reduce all intelligence activities and functions, without regard to impact on our mission.”

Clapper said intelligence agencies will have to, in his words, “do less with less.”
“We will reduce human, technical and counter-intelligence operations, resulting in fewer collection opportunities, while increasing the risk of strategic surprise [being attacked],” he said.

The national intelligence director provided an example. “Our cyber efforts will be impacted," he said. "This is an area where, you all know, we need to keep ahead of rapid technology advances to maintain and increase access to adversaries, as well as provide warning of a cyber attack against the U.S.”

Clapper said the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks demonstrated the consequences of inadequate intelligence capabilities - a mistake he said the nation risks repeating.

“Unfortunately, I have seen this movie before. Now, if we are not careful, we risk another damaging downward spiral,” he said.

Clapper said the timing of across-the-board budget cuts could not be worse for intelligence agencies.

“In my almost 50 years in intelligence, I cannot recall a period in which we confront a more diverse array of threats, crises and challenges around the world. To me, this makes sequestration even more incongruous," he said.

The national intelligence director urged Congress to give the intelligence community flexibility in implementing budget cuts to minimize their impact on national security.

Senators of both parties on the Intelligence Committee voiced support for the request.

“We are committing to do everything within our power to ensure that the resources are there to allow you to continue to do what you are asked to do every single day,” said Republican Saxby Chambliss.

The committee’s chairwoman, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, said she will press the Senate to authorize greater budgeting flexibility for intelligence agencies. This week, the chamber is debating a bill to fund the U.S. government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

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Comment Sorting
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
March 13, 2013 8:07 AM
US ability to detect threats can not be let to degrade...americans can be the best hackers and counterfeiters and thus be in the loophole and block the hackers and counterfeiters.

by: Ron Helton from: Moronville, (Tecumseh),OK
March 12, 2013 4:05 PM
The solution is to stop using money to topple the governments of other nations and instead apply those funds to intercepting plots to attack our country.

Having read books, such as "Inside The CIA"; I can't with a straight face agree with Mr. Clapper's assertion that they don't have enough money.

by: littlelizard from: usa
March 12, 2013 3:57 PM
This is what the GOP wanted. But the good thing is all those tax loopholes for the rich and mega corps are still intact, and we all know that is what is most important to the GOP.

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