House Democrat accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intelligence

Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military’s eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia Wray: Racially motivated violent extremism makes up most of FBI’s domestic terrorism cases MORE (D-Mich.) on Wednesday accused Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeDemocrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference Democrat asks intelligence director if Trump’s personal debt is security problem Comey defends FBI Russia probe from GOP criticism MORE of politicizing election security intelligence on behalf of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE and urged him to take a number of steps to improve transparency.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and former special assistant to the director of national intelligence, pointed to serious concerns over Ratcliffe’s decision last month to declassify a letter citing unverified Russian intelligence that claimed former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChance the Rapper, Demi Lovato to play digital concert to encourage voting New York Times editorial board endorses Biden The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Trump resumes maskless COVID-19 recovery at White House MORE approved a plan to “stir up scandal” against President Trump during her 2016 presidential campaign.

“Recently, you declassified information—which the Intelligence Community cannot corroborate—as part of an apparent effort to undermine the past assessments of nonpolitical career intelligence analysts,” Slotkin wrote in a letter to Ratcliffe on Wednesday. “Press reports indicate that you released this information despite concerns from the leadership of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.”

Slotkin noted that “the uncorroborated claims, which you hastily briefed to Republican Senators on September 29, were subsequently repeated by the President during the first presidential debate in a further attack on the patriotic, hard-working women and men of the Intelligence Community which you lead.”

Ratcliffe and other intelligence officials have been involved in briefing members of Congress in recent months about election threats. One senior official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed in August that Russia, China, and Iran were actively interfering in U.S. elections. 

Slotkin cited classified information on election security threats in sharply criticizing Ratcliffe and the intelligence community for “drawing false equivalency” between threats from the three countries, accusing Ratcliffe of “seeking to bolster a future case by President Trump, if he loses, that Chinese interference caused his loss.”

“I am intimately familiar with your obligation to provide unvarnished, fact-based analysis to senior policy officials,” Slotkin wrote. “Your actions appear intent at distracting from the primary threat to our democratic process posed by Russia, and instead amplifying claims about China’s influence efforts.”

Slotkin noted that public statements by Ratcliffe and the ODNI did “not accurately reflect” information given to members of Congress during an Oct.

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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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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats

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a person sitting at a table in front of a sign: Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments


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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

THE IC GETS A LESS THAN STELLAR REVIEW: A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“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,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined.

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber and space-based systems also introduce the likelihood of entirely new domains of conflict in the event of a contingency,” which could serve to “extend the battlefield to our political discourse, mobile devices, and the very infrastructure that modern digital communication and communities rely upon,” the lawmakers wrote.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) acknowledged the shortcomings laid bare by the report, saying in a statement that “our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.”

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MORE CHINA CONCERNS: The House GOP’s China task force unveiled its full report laying out hundreds of recommendations and legislative suggestions to combat threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday.

The report includes more than 400 policy recommendations to address issues ranging from national security concerns, human rights violations, problems with the supply chain, Beijing’s missteps in its handling of the pandemic and China’s overall expanding influence on the world stage.

The task force – which is made up of 15 GOP lawmakers who sit on 11 different committees – was initially slated to be bipartisan before Democrats ultimately opted out before its launch in May.

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DRIVERS TO

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House panel says US intelligence community not equipped to address evolving Chinese threats

A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“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,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined. 

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber and space-based systems also introduce the likelihood of entirely new domains of conflict in the event of a contingency,” which could serve to “extend the battlefield to our political discourse, mobile devices, and the very infrastructure that modern digital communication and communities rely upon,” the lawmakers wrote.

Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump official releases unverified Russian intel on Clinton previously rejected by Senate panel Schiff subpoenas Homeland Security, charges ‘unlawful obstruction’ Schiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled MORE (D-Calif.) acknowledged the shortcomings laid bare by the report, saying in a statement that “our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.”

“After 9/11, we reoriented towards a mission to protect the homeland, and were very successful. But after two decades, the IC’s capacity to address hard targets like China has waned,” Schiff said. “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.”

Committee staff reviewed thousands of assessments and conducted hours of interviews with intelligence community officials in compiling the report, which recommended a series of steps to ensure the IC can keep up with evolving Chinese threats.

Those recommendations include the White House conducting a review of the IC’s budget, the IC prioritizing its training of employees on China-focused issues and the formation of a “bipartisan, bicameral congressional study group” to evaluate if changes need to be made.

“It’s my hope that the Intelligence Community will work hand-in-hand with the congressional oversight committees to make these necessary changes quickly. We should all have the same goal — ensuring the U.S. and its intelligence

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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 Intelligence panel to subpoena DHS over whistleblower

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify.

Brian Murphy said in a whistleblower complaint earlier this month that he was pressured by more senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports about Russian election interference and other matters. Schiff said he will issue two subpoenas to the department for documents and testimony after “unnecessary delay and obstruction” over materials that would allow Murphy to testify to the panel behind closed doors.

Murphy has agreed to tell his story to Congress, but his lawyer has said he cannot appear until he resolves the issues with the department over access to information.

Schiff, D-Calif., said the committee would compel the document production by Oct. 6. The second subpoena would demand that DHS official Joseph Maher, Murphy’s temporary replacement in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, testify in an open hearing Friday to explain why the department is delaying security clearances to Murphy’s attorneys and failing to produce documents to the committee, as well as to answer questions about Murphy’s complaint.

Schiff said in a statement that the panel “will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the department.”

Murphy said in the complaint that he was pressured by senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including information about Russian interference in the election and the rising threat posed by white supremacists. The department has denied his allegations.

A former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran, Murphy also alleged that senior DHS officials pressed him to alter reports so they would reflect administration policy goals. He said he was demoted from his post as principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis for refusing to go along with the changes and for filing confidential internal complaints about the conduct. He remains with the department in a different capacity.

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CIA restricts Russia intelligence reaching White House: Politico

  • The CIA is restricting the intelligence on Russia that reaches President Donald Trump and the White House, reported Politico. 
  • Some officials believe that Trump’s tendency to explode in anger at mention of Russian meddling was behind the decision.
  • One source told the outlet that Russian intelligence is being more carefully vetted because it is so sensitive. 
  • A Washington Post story on Tuesday suggested that Vladimir Putin gave his personal blessing to Russia’s campaign to subvert the 2020 presidential election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The CIA is restricting the flow intelligence on Russia that reaches President Donald Trump and the White House, Politico reported Wednesday. 

Trump is known to explode in rage when the subject of Russia’s continuing attempts to subvert US democracy are raised, and some officials who spoke to the outlet said that this may be the reason behind limiting the intelligence on Russia that reaches the Oval Office. 

The publication said that nine current and former CIA officials confirmed the reduced flow of Russia intelligence from the CIA.

Politico’s suggestion chimes with a claim made by a former Homeland Security official who said he was told to suppress intelligence about Russia which would displease Trump.

Three of Politico’s CIA sources said that general counsel Courtney Elwood was reviewing virtually every item from Russia House, the CIA’s famed department focusing on Russia and the former USSR, before it was forwarded to the White House. 

Four of the officials said the reasons for the limits on the flow of intelligence were unclear. One claimed that CIA director Gina Haspel was limiting the information to ensure “quality over quantity.” 

According to the report, Haspel has clashed with Russia House figures, firing the head of the unit earlier this year, with one analyst resigning after she called him a liar.

In a statement to the publication, the CIA said that suggestions that Haspel’s decision making is determined by political concerns is “misguided.” 

“She rightfully asks difficult questions and ensures intelligence is corroborated, double-checked, and then run through the wringer once more. Any suggestion of a political motive for how she leads this agency is misguided.”

US intelligence agencies have warned that Russia is waging a renewed campaign to interfere in the US election this year.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the CIA believes President Vladimir Putin is likely personally overseeing the operation. 

According to the CIA report, the operation is focused on damaging Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s candidacy and helping Trump. 

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CIA clamps down on flow of Russia intelligence to White House

Four of the people said the change has resulted in less intelligence on Russia making its way to the White House, but the exact reason for that — whether Elwood has been blocking it, or whether Russia officers have become disillusioned and are producing less, or even self-censoring for fear of being reprimanded — is less clear.

One administration official explained the reduced Russia-related intelligence flow from CIA to the National Security Council as a matter of “quality over quantity.” Another administration official said that while the CIA is not the only agency that provides intelligence to the NSC, this official’s perception was that the CIA was “certainly” exhibiting an “abundance of caution” about the Russia intelligence it was sending to the NSC, beginning around the time of Trump’s impeachment proceedings. A whistleblower complaint about Trump from a CIA analyst, which Elwood relayed to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg at the time, is what sparked Trump’s impeachment — feeding the mistrust toward Russia-related intelligence inside the White House and among the agency’s top ranks.

The heightened scrutiny within the CIA comes as the Justice Department, through prosecutor John Durham, continues to investigate the intelligence community’s findings about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — and particularly the conclusion drawn by Russia analysts that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered specifically to boost Trump’s candidacy rather than just sow chaos.

Trump, who has publicly railed against the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in 2016 to bolster his candidacy, has also been working to bring the intelligence community further under his control since his impeachment acquittal in February. He has installed loyalists in top positions like director of national intelligence and the senior-most intelligence post on the NSC staff.

Current and former officials have said that in private, the president remains extraordinarily sensitive around the subject of Russian meddling — to the point where they hesitate to raise the topic. As recently as last Thursday, the president blasted his own FBI director on Twitter for testifying that Moscow was seeking to “sow divisiveness and discord” and “denigrate Vice President Biden” in a bid to influence the 2020 campaign.

A CIA spokesperson did not dispute any of the factual assertions in this article. But he pushed back on the notion that Haspel’s enhanced scrutiny was politically motivated. “Scrutinizing intelligence product and process is exactly what is expected of Director Haspel not only because it’s her job, it’s her life’s work — developing sources, vetting information, and checking assumptions — it’s in her blood,” said CIA press secretary Timothy Barrett. “She rightfully asks difficult questions and ensures intelligence is corroborated, double-checked, and then run through the wringer once more. Any suggestion of a political motive for how she leads this agency is misguided.”

Haspel’s scrutiny of intelligence coming out of the CIA’s Russia House has led to some recent dust-ups. The head of Russia House, whom officials declined to identify

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BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Sandeep Prasanna, subcommittee director for intelligence and counterterrorism on the House Homeland Security Committee

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I had a fun, low-key weekend — Saturday was spent jumping around outdoor distilleries and breweries in Northeast D.C., and ended with takeout from one of our favorite spots, Maketto. Today is the first day of session after August recess, so I’ll be teleworking at home with my partner, Ryan, and our cats, Idli and Chutney, squeezing in a few video calls with family and friends throughout the day. Tonight, I’m actually teaching my first evening class of the semester at Georgetown Law, so it’ll be a late night in the office, aka our dining table.”

How did you get your start in politics? “Like many fledgling lawyers looking for work on Capitol Hill, I was stuck in job hunt purgatory for a long time — graduate degree but no Hill experience, underqualified for counsel positions but passed over for entry-level positions. I got my start in the Senate when Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal and his staff took a chance on me, offering me a spot on his Judiciary team as a legislative correspondent. It wasn’t easy balancing law school debt on a junior staffer salary, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. It felt fulfilling to work on a portfolio I cared deeply about, learning from some of the best in the business.”

What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading during coronavirus social distancing? And why? “I recently finished ‘Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity,’ written by Duke scientists Brian Hare (my thesis adviser!) and Vanessa Woods. They walk us through the research that shows that humans may often be cruel to one another, but we’re also uniquely cooperative — and that’s what has made us successful as a species. Survival of the friendliest. It’s a science-based call to action for us to reimagine and expand who ‘belongs’ in our communities in order to harness the better angels that are built into our very DNA. I’m a little biased, but we need this book now more than ever.”

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House Intelligence Committee expands probe into DHS office

The House Intelligence Committee is expanding its investigation into alleged abuses and improper politicization at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), days after the committee released a whistleblower complaint filed by a senior DHS official who alleged that he was retaliated against for refusing to suppress reports on white supremacist organizations and Russia’s election interference efforts.

“Recent developments have obligated the Committee to expand the scope of its ongoing investigation,” Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote in a letter to Joseph Maher, the senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. The committee over the summer began an investigation into the actions of DHS officials in Portland, Oregon, amid ongoing protests.

“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 I&A’s mission and activities,” Schiff continued. He referenced the complaint by Brian Murphy, the former undersecretary of intelligence and analysis.

The committee is requesting documents, as well as transcribed interviews with I&A officials. Murphy is expected to be deposed before the Intelligence Committee on September 21.

In his complaint, filed September 8, Murphy said that he was instructed by then-Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to withhold an intelligence notification on Russian activities because it “made the president look bad.” 

Murphy objected, the complaint says, telling Wolf “it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons for political embarrassment.” 

He claims he was later excluded by Wolf from meetings on the subject and that the draft was ultimately edited in a “misleading” way in order to “place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China,” which, Murphy says, is “inconsistent with the actual intelligence data.”  

The draft with the revised analysis was then leaked to the media, according to the complaint, which also details other instances of misconduct and intelligence manipulation by senior Trump administration officials in the White House and DHS.

DHS confirmed earlier this month that it withheld publication of a July intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning that Russia may try to undermine Joe Biden’s candidacy by denigrating his mental and physical health, citing “quality concerns” about the report’s sourcing. A source familiar with the draft DHS report told CBS News that the memo was withheld it because it was poorly written and thinly sourced.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio and Ranking Member Mark Warner also announced Friday that they will investigate some of Murphy’s claims.

“These allegations, if true, raise serious concerns about a potential disregard for the objectivity and impartiality of intelligence analysis and the role of I&A in the Department,” Rubio and Warner said in a letter to Maher.

Murphy was reassigned in August amid reporting that his office compiled “intelligence reports” about journalists and protesters in Portland.

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