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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Spy community not postured to handle rising China threat, House Intel finds

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement that the intelligence community’s “capacity to address hard targets like China has waned” after two decades of focusing on counterterrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The nation’s intelligence agencies “have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China,” he said.

Wednesday’s report is the result of a so-called “deep dive” the House panel began last year into what it viewed as China’s troubling activities around the globe, including Beijing’s malicious cyber efforts and disinformation campaigns; its exportation of invasive surveillance technology; and the continued threat its intelligence services pose to the security of U.S. personnel and national security information.

A committee official said most of the recommendations for reform were aimed at the senior leadership level. The official added that the panel encountered “different results” among the various U.S. intelligence elements about their focus on China, but declined to say which of the 17 clandestine agencies have been better at tackling China-related issues. Committee officials spoke on condition of anonymity to more freely discuss the panel’s findings.

Among the public recommendations: a formal review of the governance of open-source intelligence within the clandestine community and a broader and more formal effort by leadership to mentor the next generation of China analysts.

The committee official said some of the classified recommendations would be easier for agencies to address, however some contained in the public summary — such as creating a bipartisan, bicameral congressional study group to evaluate how the intelligence community organizes around these issues and how authority is divided up — could take up to a decade to fully implement. The report included 36 public recommendations and more than 100 classified recommendations.

The summary doesn’t mention the kind of election interference that has been alleged in recent weeks by Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other senior administration officials. But it does highlight the risk posed by Beijing’s “influence actors” and the government’s propaganda and disinformation efforts around events like the protests in Hong Kong and the Covid-19 outbreak.

China’s “disinformation evolution — in conjunction with the multitude of foreign influence threats and state-backed disinformation activity emanating from Russia, Iran, and other adversaries — will set the stage for further assaults on the truth, damaging the United States’ ability to advance its policies abroad and effectively engage with American citizens,” the summary states.

A second Democratic committee official said the origin of the examination could be traced back to the panel’s 2012 bipartisan report that concluded Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE were a national security threat.

The release of the report also comes as the White House is in the midst of legal wrangling over President Donald Trump’s recent executive order barring access to the popular Chinese mobile app TikTok, citing national security concerns. Earlier this week a federal judge said the administration “likely” exceeded its authority when it tried to impose restrictions on the short form

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House Intel Committee Chairman Schiff announces subpoenas in Homeland Security whistleblower probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced subpoenas Tuesday for documents and testimony from the Department of Homeland Security as part of the committee’s whistleblower investigation.

Brian Murphy alleged that officials pressured him to downplay information on Russian influence and the threat represented by White supremacists. The complaint also alleges that Murphy was retaliated against and demoted.

Schiff accused the DHS and Joseph B. Maher, the head of its Office of Intelligence and Analysis, of “effectively blocking the whistleblower from testifying” and failing to provide documents.

DHS has denied the allegations in both the complaint and from Schiff.

WOLF TAKES AIM AT ‘FABRICATED’ COMPLAINTS, REPORTS AT CONFIRMATION HEARING

“The whistleblower complaint from Mr. Murphy is patently false, it’s a fabrication, completely,” acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said at a Senate confirmation hearing last week.

He said Murphy was reassigned because of allegations he abused his authority by personally directing the collection of information on U.S. journalists.

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In a letter to Maher, Schiff wrote that Murphy’s lawyers had not been granted temporary security clearances by the DHS that would allow them to work on his deposition in the case, which the committee said it has repeatedly been forced to delay.

“The Committee will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the Department,” Schiff said in a statement.

The subpoenas aim to force the DHS to hand over records related to an ongoing whistleblower probe and to compel Maher to testify under oath.

ADAM SCHIFF URGES ‘GOOD CONSCIENCE’ REPUBLICANS IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO STEP DOWN: ‘IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO RESIGN’

The DHS denied that it was “stonewalling” the committee and said in a statement that the subpoenas amounted to “obvious political theater.”

DHS said it produced “nearly 3,000 pages of documents” in addition to other materials for the House committee.

The subpoenas are seeking an Oct. 6 deadline for DHS to hand over the documents and testimony from Maher on Oct. 2.

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“The Committee has a responsibility to independently investigate and substantiate Mr. Murphy’s serious allegations, and you and your office have a legal obligation to comply,” Schiff wrote to Maher. “The allegations, as the Committee has underscored repeatedly, fall squarely within the Committee’s legislative jurisdiction and strike at the heart of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibility.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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House Intel Expands DHS Probe After Whistleblower Allegations About Disinfo, ‘Antifa’

The House Intelligence Committee is expanding an existing investigation into the Department of Homeland Security to address a whistleblower’s allegations that top officials politicized intelligence to aid President Donald Trump.

The whistleblower complaint, written by the department’s former top intelligence official, alleges that Trump administration higher-ups pressured him and others to distort intelligence products on Russia, white supremacists and “antifa” in order to reflect Trump’s priorities. The White House and DHS have denied the allegations made in the complaint.

“Based on information that has recently come to light, the Committee’s investigation must now encompass and review a wider range of reported abuses, deficiencies, and problems, including allegations of improper politicization of intelligence and political interference in [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis’] mission and activities,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) wrote in a letter to Joseph B. Maher, the DHS official now performing the former job of the demoted whistleblower.

The whistleblower, Brian Murphy, alleges he was demoted from his position as acting undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis for refusing to go along with department higher ups — including Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy, Ken Cuccinelli — who Murphy said sought to manipulate intelligence analyses.

Notably, the committee was already investigating the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. That investigation began after news broke last month that, among other things, the office had collected information on journalists who were reporting on the federal presence in Portland.

Murphy was overseeing the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the time, and his whistleblower complaint addresses that scandal, calling press reporting on it “significantly flawed.” The complaint asserts that “DHS I&A never knowingly or deliberately collected information on journalists, at least as far as Mr. Murphy is aware or ever authorized.”

Murphy’s complaint alleges that, though Wolf “knew” there was no merit to the press about the scandal, “the removal and reassignment of Mr. Murphy would be politically good for Mr. Wolf, who wanted to be officially nominated as the DHS Secretary.”

Schiff’s letter Friday significantly expands the scope of the committee’s investigatory work.

For one thing, Murphy’s allegations go back to 2018, when he alleges that then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others misled Congress about the threat of known and suspected terrorists crossing the southern border. Murphy also alleged that Cuccinelli wanted to retaliate against DHS staff whose work on Central America he considered to be the product of “deep state intelligence analysts.”

What grabbed headlines, though, was Murphy’s claim that Wolf and Cuccinelli pressured him to alter an intelligence document to downplay the threat of white supremacist violence and emphasis “antifa.”

Separately, Murphy alleged, he was excluded from the drafting process of an intelligence notification on Russian disinformation efforts after Wolf told him the notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad.”

In his letter to Maher, Schiff listed several DHS officials with whom the committee would request transcribed interviews. And he said he appreciated the department’s pledge to “cooperate with the Committee’s expanded

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Schiff asks intel officials to brief House panel on election security threats

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffRussia ‘amplifying’ concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election: report Democrats demand answers on report DHS withheld Russian election interference intelligence Top House Democrats demand Ratcliffe hold previously scheduled election security briefings MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday formally requested that senior officials within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) brief the House panel on election security threats later this month.

The request to participate in the classified briefing came days after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeRussia ‘amplifying’ concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election: report Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts Democrats demand answers on report DHS withheld Russian election interference intelligence MORE announced that ODNI would no longer conduct in-person congressional election security briefings and would instead submit written assessments.

Schiff requested that William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, along with Intelligence Community Threats Executive Shelby Pierson and other ODNI officials who previously briefed Congress on election security concerns participate in a Sept. 17 classified House Intelligence briefing.

The House chairman wrote that the briefing would focus on “election security, foreign malign influence, and election interference,” with Schiff noting that he “expects” Evanina and Pierson to participate.

The chairman also sent the request for a briefing to other agencies that have participated in classified election security briefings in February and July, including the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and their Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

ODNI did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the requested briefing.

Democrats including Schiff have criticized Ratcliffe for suspending the in-person briefings, with Schiff and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Mnuchin, Pelosi reach informal deal to avoid government shutdown | Trump eviction ban tests limits of CDC authority | Initial jobless claims hit 881,000; unadjusted claims tick up Mnuchin, Pelosi reach informal deal to avoid government shutdown Ending counterproductive, counterintuitive regulation MORE (D-Calif.) saying in a joint statement last week that the decision constituted a “shocking abdication” of ODNI’s “lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGermany says Kremlin critic was poisoned with same nerve agent used in UK attack Democrats demand Ratcliffe resume in-person congressional election security briefings The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump encouraged to call for calm during Wisconsin visit MORE (R-Fla.) put out a statement earlier this week noting that Ratcliffe had promised to continue providing in-person briefings to the Senate panel on election security, but emphasizing that “congressional oversight of intelligence activities now faces a historic crisis.”

Ratcliffe said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier this week that he made the decision to suspend the in-person briefings following “leaks” of information from past briefings.

“I reiterated to Congress, look, I’m going to keep you fully and currently informed, as required

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