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Senate Intel Committee Urges Reform of Intelligence Agencies to Counter Threats from US Adversaries

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A new Senate report warns that US adversaries are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to steal secrets and says US counterintelligence must enact robust reforms to better meet this challenge.

The redacted report, from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was released Tuesday after two years of independent research by nonpartisan Committee staff.

FILE: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks with a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/J Scott Applewhite)

The report identified the challenges facing the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) and offered solutions to ensure it is better positioned to respond to these foreign intelligence threats.

“The United States faces a dramatically different threat landscape today than it did a couple of decades ago,” Sen. Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “New threats and new technology mean we have to make substantial adjustments to our counterintelligence posture if we want to protect the national and economic security of our country.”

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Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who is the committee’s vice chairman, noted that China and other adversaries are “targeting all sectors of society.” The committee wants to make sure intelligence agencies have “the necessary authorities and resources to deal effectively with these new counterintelligence threats,” he said.

The committee’s report found that foreign intelligence entities are targeting both the public and private sectors, including the financial sector, the US industrial base, academic entities, US government departments, and non-state agencies. part of the intelligence community.

FILE: People walk past an American flag at the start of a work day, at the Oculus, part of the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York, on Sept. 11, 2019.

FILE: People walk past an American flag at the start of a work day, at the Oculus, part of the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York, on Sept. 11, 2019.
(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

The report warned that US adversaries have access to a wider variety of tools to steal information or inflame social and political tensions than in years past.

The report concluded that the efforts of US spy agencies to meet these challenges are hampered by miscommunication and a lack of money and staff in the agency intended to coordinate those efforts. It also recommended that Congress, along with the Executive Branch and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, develop a consistent definition of counterintelligence for the entire US government that reflects the current landscape.

There is also disagreement among intelligence officials about who should lead responses to cyberattacks and campaigns that try to influence Americans, and whether those efforts should be classified as counterintelligence, according to the report.

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The Senate report focused primarily on the NCSC, an element of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ODNI was created in the 2004 reforms following the 9/11 attacks and revelations that the agencies were not sharing information about the hijackers involved.

The NCSC is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the US government, but cannot fund or mandate programs for the many government agencies or private companies that hold secrets prized by foreign intelligence services.

President Biden has yet to nominate a director for the NCSC, which is currently led by acting director Michael Orlando.

Tuesday’s report comes after the disclosure of high-profile attacks in recent years, from the theft of personal data from millions of government employees to a breach of the Microsoft Exchange email system.

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Washington has long accused Beijing of sanctioning far-reaching campaigns to steal secrets through espionage, cyberattacks and corporate espionage, as well as spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and considering efforts to influence democracy. American. The FBI has said it opens a new counterintelligence investigation involving China every 10 hours on average.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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