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Congress hears from IC Leaders
February 6, 2012
The intelligence community (IC) took center stage on Capitol Hill this past week as DIA Director LTG Ronald Burgess Jr., Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other IC agency leaders presented the IC's 2012 Annual Threat Assessment (ATA) before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Feb. 2 and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Jan. 31. The annual hearings provide a rare public glimpse into the analysis, work and capabilities the IC employs to help Congress and the public better understand the intentions of our adversaries.
Unlike previous years when the focus of the IC's testimony was terrorism or support to theater operations, Clapper and panel members dedicated a significant portion of their testimony this year to addressing the difficulties of maintaining the world's premier intelligence enterprise in the face of shrinking budgets.
"Never before has the intelligence community been called upon to master such complexity, on so many issues, in such a resource-constrained environment," Clapper said. "The fiscal environment we face as a nation and in our intelligence community will require careful identification and management of the challenges the IC focuses on, and the risks we must mutually assume. We're rising to the challenge by continuing to integrate the IC, taking advantage of new technologies, implementing new efficiencies, and — as always — simply working hard."
SSCI Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., also noted the fiscal realities facing the community and the changing nature of the ATA hearings, stating that while the challenges ahead are difficult, "last year's successes are no small achievement. They resulted from transformation and improvement at every IC agency…I am happy that we will no longer have annual threat hearings where someone asks the question, where is Osama bin Laden?"
Tight budgets aside, key areas of concern cited in this year's ATA were terrorism to include al-Qaida and its affiliates; proliferation highlighting North Korea and Iran; concerns about stability in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and the Middle East; and the continuing drug violence taking place in Mexico and Central America.
One topic that stoked increased attention from both IC witnesses and congressional committee members was the issue of cyberthreats. Clapper and panel members told Congress the cyberthreat is one of the most challenging national security issues America faces. Witnesses noted that among state actors, the IC is concerned about entities within China and Russia conducting intrusions into U.S. computer networks and stealing U.S. data damaging national security and stealing intellectual property. The IC witnesses also cited the growing role that non-state actors are playing in cyberspace as an example of the easy access to potentially disruptive and even lethal technology and know-how by such groups.
LTG Burgess and Clapper will be appearing before the Congress again Feb. 16 — this time testifying before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
DIA is the nation’s premier all-source military intelligence organization.
It provides the nation’s most authoritative assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities. The agency’s four core competencies -- human intelligence, all-source analysis, counterintelligence and technical intelligence -- enable military operations while also informing policy-makers at the defense and national levels.
DIA’s mission is unique and no other agency matches its military expertise across such a broad range of intelligence disciplines.
This page was last updated March 21, 2013.