House Reports Push for More Focus on China by Intelligence Agencies

WASHINGTON — The United States could fall behind in its global competition with China without additional resources to develop better intelligence on the Chinese government, and spy agencies must focus more on the challenge of pandemics and trade, according to a report by the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released Wednesday.

The warnings in the report, the result of a classified two-year study of American intelligence agencies’ work, were similar to the conclusions of a Republican study on China also released Wednesday. While that report, by a task force of House Republican lawmakers, has a wider focus, it too called for a more aggressive stance toward China and better defenses against Chinese theft of intellectual property and efforts to influence American politics.

While there is a bipartisan consensus on China, the failure of Democrats and Republicans in the House to work together on the issue was another sign of the partisan dysfunction that has gripped Washington and that could be a hurdle to revising American policy on China despite the agreement.

The House Intelligence Committee report, primarily the work of the panel’s Democratic majority, calls for a “significant realignment of resources” to help the United States compete with China. The report calls for a broader look at national security threats, including climate change and pandemics, while trying to collect intelligence on China.

“Absent a significant and immediate reprioritization and realignment of resources, we will be ill prepared to compete with China — diplomatically, economically and militarily — on the global stage for decades to come,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the committee. “The good news is that we still have time to adapt.”

China has been a growing challenge for the United States. President Trump has said without evidence that the coronavirus pandemic originated at a Chinese laboratory, a conclusion the intelligence community has not backed up. China has also been accused by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of stepping up its efforts to interfere in the November election.

The House report recommends a broader approach for the role of intelligence in the United States government, saying agencies’ insights need to be accessible to agencies outside the traditional confines of the national security establishment, like the Commerce Department and public health agencies.

The report also highlights the challenges laid bare by the pandemic and discusses tensions between Beijing and local government that hampered China’s initial understanding of it. The report says the emergence of the pandemic highlights the “continued potential for devastating and destabilizing global events originating in China.”

“The stakes are high. If the I.C. does not accurately characterize and contextualize Beijing’s intent, America’s leaders will fail to understand the factors that motivate Chinese decision-making,” the report said, using an abbreviation for the intelligence community.

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U.S. intel agencies failing to counter threat from China, says House Intelligence Committee report

WASHINGTON — After two decades of prioritizing counterterrorism, U.S. intelligence agencies are failing to sufficiently understand and counter the national security threat posed by China, the House Intelligence Committee concludes in a new report issued Wednesday.

The report, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with intelligence officers and thousands of analytic assessments, finds that the intelligence community must change how it does business — not only to improve its insights into China, but also to better address “the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change.”

The report recommends that spy agencies make better use of open source data, modernize hiring practices and re-orient spending priorities. Although the committee’s Democratic majority wrote the report, the full committee approved it Wednesday morning in a bipartisan voice vote.

Click here to read the report

“The United States’ Intelligence Community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China,” the report says. “Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security.”

In addition to critiquing U.S. spy agencies, the report offers a stark portrayal of China as a rogue nation that threatens global security, underscoring how dramatically the bipartisan foreign policy consensus about China has changed in the last decade.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has increasingly sought to revise the international order and global norms in a way that furthers its own strategic interests and undermines those of the United States specifically, and the West generally,” the report says. “Militarily, China has embarked on a massive modernization drive — creating a ‘blue water’ navy, investing heavily in hypersonic weapons, developing its own fifth-generation fighter, militarizing a series of atolls and islets in the South China Sea to strengthen its claims in the region, and building its first overseas military base in Djibouti.”

Also disturbing, the report says, is China’s use of technology to create “a post-modern authoritarian state in which the country’s population is monitored around the clock through their phones and an ever-growing network of surveillance cameras equipped with facial-recognition technology. This ‘digital authoritarianism’ has not only been deployed at home, but has been increasingly marketed to aspiring authoritarians abroad.”

On Wednesday the committee made public a 37-page report that included a number of redactions, and said it had also produced a classified document of more than 100 pages. The classified version is likely to have addressed a number of intelligence failings too sensitive to discuss publicly, including the severe damage done to CIA spying in China by a former CIA officer convicted of espionage, and a catastrophic failure in how the CIA communicated secretly with its foreign informants. Those incidents contributed to the loss of about 20 Chinese agents who were spying for the U.S., current and former

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House Committee Says U.S. Spy Agencies Are Failing China Challenge

WASHINGTON—A House Intelligence Committee report concludes that U.S. spy agencies are failing to meet the multipronged challenge posed by China and calls for changes to focus on pandemics, trade and other issues often given less attention by intelligence professionals.

The report, most of which is classified, portrays the $85 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence community as overly focused on traditional targets such as terrorism and adversaries’ militaries. Pandemics, as evidenced by the coronavirus, and China’s technological prowess in areas like artificial intelligence present an equal threat, according to a summary of the report released Wednesday.

The report recommends fundamental changes in the way intelligence agencies operate, including providing greater support to the Commerce Department, the National Science Foundation, public health organizations and other agencies outside the usual national security bureaucracy.

“Absent a significant and immediate reprioritization and realignment of resources, we will be ill-prepared to compete with China—diplomatically, economically, and militarily—on the global stage for decades to come,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.).

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which coordinates the work of 17 U.S. intelligence organizations, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report and two others published this week are part of a growing consensus on Capitol Hill that new thinking and bipartisan support are required to address Beijing’s challenge to U.S. global primacy. The reports and their findings suggest that harder-line China policies are likely to prevail in the coming years, whether in a second Trump term or in a Biden administration.

The China Task Force, a group of 15 Republican members of Congress, in its own report calls China the “greatest national and economic security challenge of this generation.” It offers more than 400 recommendations, ranging from providing safe harbor to people fleeing China’s democracy crackdown in Hong Kong to working on a trade agreement with Taiwan.

China is investing heavily in fifth-generation cellular telecommunications technology.



Photo:

Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

The task force, headed by Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, said it gave priority to recommendations with bipartisan support, many of which have been included in legislation that has been passed by either the House or the Senate.

Another report, from a bipartisan House Armed Services Committee group named the Future of Defense Task Force, calls for a “whole-of-nation strategy addressing the rise of China,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), who headed the group alongside Rep. Seth Moulton (D., Mass).

The report urges the Defense Department to rethink national security, including by investing in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and biotechnology. Many of its suggestions go beyond the Pentagon. For example, it recommends expanding voluntary national service programs to promote engagement in U.S. democracy.

The House Intelligence Committee report says intelligence agencies failed to adapt to “a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking nonmilitary transnational threats.”

While Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorist groups also pose threats, “it was China, however, that has used the past two

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White House directs agencies to relax enforcement

A memo produced by the White House and sent to agency heads last week instructs them to make significant changes to how and when they bring enforcement cases, telling them not to open multiple investigations into the same company and urging them to seek political appointees’ approval before proceeding with an inquiry.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Enforcement of federal statutes and regulations has declined under President Trump. (Associated Press)


© Provided by The LA Times
Enforcement of federal statutes and regulations has declined under President Trump. (Associated Press)

The new guidance, released Aug. 31, came from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, a unit of the White House that does not typically get involved in enforcement policy.

Building off President Trump’s May executive order calling for agencies to do away with regulatory hurdles in order to boost the economy, the memo lists “best practices” for enforcing the nation’s laws and regulations. Critics of the administration said it could be used to entangle agencies, potentially stymieing investigations and giving the upper hand to companies suspected of wrongdoing.

John C. Cruden, a former Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called the memo “unprecedented.”

“At a time in our nation’s history when even-handed, statutory-based enforcement should be vigorously supported and encouraged, this policy goes in the opposite direction,” said Cruden, who served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. He added that the memo “provides an excuse for agencies to reduce or eliminate enforcement.”

Under Trump, enforcement has already slowed. The Environmental Protection Agency’s penalties for polluters are down, there are fewer inspectors working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and financial penalties against corporations and banks accused of wrongdoing have declined.

Critics of the administration said that amid this concerted push to deregulate, the memo sends a message to agencies to pull back even more.

Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer watchdog organization, said the memo could have ramifications for enforcement of regulations concerning the environment, public health and the financial markets. Narang and other government watchdogs said the memo could result in agencies easing up on investigations into polluters and workplace safety matters, curtailing surprise inspections and even placing time limits on investigations before they have started.

“This whole memo is an exercise in what industry would like regulatory enforcement to look like,” Narang said. “This is almost a wish list for industry.”

A spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget, which oversees OIRA, said the document and the executive order on which it is based “protect both individuals and small businesses while at the same time enforcing the law against wrongdoers.”

The memo focuses on administrative cases, which make up the bulk of the federal government’s enforcement activity. These are usually smaller, less severe cases that can result in fines and orders requiring companies or individuals to take steps to prevent future violations.

Though there are already rules dictating the steps agency employees must follow in order to bring an enforcement action, the White House document

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White House directs federal agencies to halt some race-related trainings

The directive targets training on “white privilege” or “critical race theory.”

The White House is directing federal departments and agencies to “cease and desist” funding for certain types of race and diversity training, according to a new memo sent out to federal agencies by the Office of Management and Budget on Friday.

In the memo, OMB Director Russell Vought tells the heads of federal agencies that certain types of racial bias training, reportedly being administered by executive agencies, are “un-American” and “divisive” and said President Donald Trump had directed the agencies to stop these trainings.

“These types of “trainings” not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce,” Vought wrote.

On Saturday morning, Trump retweeted nearly 20 references to this directive. Many of the tweets came from individuals who often tweet far-right leaning perspectives, as well as from several right-leaning publications.

One such retweet was a video of a Fox News’ Tucker Carlson highlighting the use of the race and diversity trainings within the federal government.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign event at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Sept. 3, 2020, in Latrobe, Pa.

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign event at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Sept. 3, 2020, in Latrobe, Pa.

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign event at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Sept. 3, 2020, in Latrobe, Pa.

In the memo, Vought references press reports of trainings during which attendees have been told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or are “required to say that they “benefit from racism.”

The memo was first reported by Real Clear Politics and followed by the Washington Post.

It was not immediately clear what specific trainings the memo was directing to be halted.

ABC News reached out to the White House for additional information on the types of training the White House is targeting with its directive. The inquiry was referred to the Office of Management and Budget, which did not immediately respond.

The White House will be offering additional guidance on carrying out the President’s Directive, the OMB memo states. In the meantime, agencies are being directed to identify these trainings and are encouraged to begin identifying ways to cancel contracts for trainings that teach “white privilege” or “critical race theory.”

Diversity initiatives at federal agencies were implemented in part by a 2011 Executive Order by then President Barack Obama. Advocates say they can be helpful in spotting racial biases and improving inclusivity.

Race has come into increasing focus in the runup to the 2020 election, as protests over police shootings of people of color have led to nationwide protests.

Trump has been critical of these protestors and campaigned on the need for police and political leaders to crack down them.

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White House memo calls for ban on federal agencies conducting training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege” with taxpayer dollars

President Trump is ordering federal agencies to stop funding training on topics including “critical race theory” and “white privilege” with taxpayer dollars, according to a memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought that was released on Friday. 

“It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” Vought wrote in a letter to the heads of executive departments and agencies. 

Citing press reports that agencies have conducted training where employees are told that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” or that racism is “embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity,” Vought said trainings of that nature “run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our nation has stood since its inception.” 

In the letter, Vought told the agency heads to identify contracts or other spending related to training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” 

He further instructed the leaders to find ways to cancel the contracts and move federal dollars away from “these un-American propaganda training sessions.” 

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White House wants to cancel federal agencies’ race-related trainings

The memo, released on Friday, also tells all federal agencies to identify and if possible cancel contracts that involve teaching that America is an “inherently racist or evil country.”

“The President has directed me to ensure that federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions,” the memo states.

Vought writes in the memo that “it has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

He then refers to press reports that say federal employees “have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’ ”

It could not immediately be learned what training sessions Vought was referring to in the memo. Recent Fox News segments have heavily criticized “diversity and inclusion” efforts in the federal government started under the Obama administration.

“It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government,” Chris Rufo, research fellow at the right-wing Discovery Institute, told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson earlier this week.

Other experts say racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government. Several studies have found federal contracts are disproportionately awarded to white-owned businesses. In 2017, a study by the Minority Business Development Agency found a dwindling over two decades in contracts for minority-owned businesses, according to NPR.

Racial awareness trainings can help officials realize unconscious bias in the awarding of contracts from the federal government, the largest employer in the world, said M.E. Hart, an attorney who has given hundreds of diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government for more than 20 years.

The racial sensitivity trainings can improve morale and cooperation in the workplace, and by increasing the diversity of perspectives, ultimately improve overall efficiency, Hart says.

“If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise — ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” Hart said. “These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that, and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”

The OMB memo later says that “the President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.” It was first reported by RealClearPolitics.

The memo comes after Trump has put himself at the center of intense national debates about race, political tactics, the Civil War and the Confederate flag. Democrats have long taken aim at Trump’s comments about race, including his false assertion that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

And this year, as numerous

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White House tells federal agencies to cancel ‘divisive’ racial sensitivity training: reports

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reportedly directed federal agencies to cancel employee racial sensitivity training that may be “divisive” and “un-American,” according to multiple reports.

“The President has directed me to ensure that federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions,” the memo reads. 

The Post reports it’s not clear what training programs the memo is specifically referring to, but notes Fox News recently shared a critical report of Obama-era diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

The memo insists that “the President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.”

 

The report comes as racial tensions in the United States and demands for an end to racism and police brutality have gripped the nation for months.

 

The issue has sparked renewed attention in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody. Subsequent high-profile deaths of Black Americans while in police custody or without committing a crime have fanned the flames of the issues as well.

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Exclusive: White House asks U.S. agencies to detail all China-related funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has asked U.S. government agencies for extensive details of any funding that seeks to counter China’s global influence and business practices, or supports Beijing, amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

According to an Aug. 27 White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) document seen by Reuters, the OMB directed U.S. agencies to submit “cross-cutting data on federal funding that aids or supports China, or that directly or indirectly counters China’s unfair competition and malign activities and influence globally.”

China denies it engages in unfair competitive practices.

The document, titled “Strategic Competition with China Crosscut,” does not say how the information will be used other than that it will “inform policymakers” of the myriad ways U.S. government spending involves China.

The United States and China have grown antagonistic toward each other with disagreements that stretch from a two-year-old trade war, to the Trump administration blaming Beijing for a lack of transparency about the spread of COVID-19.

The sweeping budget data request will be used to help policymakers and notes all funding should “reflect strategic priorities” when responding to China.

Some U.S. programs and spending under review dates back a decade or more. The document directs federal agencies to respond by Sept. 21.

A spokesman for OMB confirmed the agency effort, telling Reuters that “to ensure that the United States remains strong and in a position of strength against rival nations like China, OMB has asked federal agencies for all funding meant to counter China, or which could aid China.”

The memo includes instructions on how to submit both classified and unclassified U.S. spending details and seeks details of all U.S. government funding directed for spending inside China.

The White House document asks for data for all U.S. government funding used to “counter malign Chinese influence or behavior incongruent with American interests.”

It cites as examples “funding for programming to counter the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); funding for military operations, equipment and infrastructure, the primary purpose of which is to deter aggressive Chinese behavior.”

It also seeks details of “secondary” U.S. efforts on China like “marginal contributions which were necessary to maintain a U.S. lead over China in terms of voting power within key international organizations” and funding for other U.S. efforts.

The document also seeks data on U.S. government funding for programs whose primary purpose is to counter Chinese technological prowess in key sectors like 5G and wireless communications, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, quantum computing, cyber and system security, advanced manufacturing and robotics, autonomous and electric vehicles, biotechnology, advanced energy, and space technologies.

The White House sought details of spending on technical assistance from U.S. government experts, bilateral funding for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research center and any other U.S. bilateral economic assistance programs.

It

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