This week, the heads of America’s major four spy agencies testified before the U.S. Senate. One issue stood out above all others: the threat that Communist China poses to the security, prosperity, and freedom of the American people.
Appearing before the U.S. Senate’s Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was joined by the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and National Security Agency (NSA).
Xi Jinping’s Communist regime featured front and center.
In her opening statement, Avril Haines described the Communists’ varied threats as an “unparalleled priority” for the U.S. intelligence community. Haines added that Beijing “has substantial cyber capabilities that if deployed, at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure inside the United States.”
The intent here was clear: to quickly grab the attention of those watching these hearings and make clear the truth. The truth, that is, that the Communists have both the means and willingness to use great force against American civilians should they feel it is in their interest to do so.
FBI director Christopher Wray carried this factual narrative forward. He observed that investigations involving China’s economic espionage activities against the United States are now 1300% higher than was the case just a few years ago. This reflects the absolute lie of Xi’s pledge that economic engagement offers a “win-win” opportunity for both nations. The truth, as Wray hinted at, is that the Communists want the U.S. government and U.S. businesses to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in annual research so that Beijing can then steal the products of that research. It is, of course, easier to steal something than to spend the vast sums of time and effort needed to build something!
Another focus of discussions was the origin of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Senator Marco Rubio asked the assembled intelligence leaders whether they could offer any more guidance as to where the virus originated. The intelligence officials said that they were still investigating the various possibilities, and implicitly rejected Beijing’s argument that the virus’s origin has been established by the World Health Organization’s investigation. The intelligence community’s continued investigations should concern and frustrate Xi’s regime. After all, the Communists have responded angrily at the idea raised by some that the virus may have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But as more information comes out, we may learn that the Wuhan Institute is exactly where this terrible global pandemic was born.
Director Wray also noted that the Communists’ cyber threats remain potent. He said that one way the U.S. government would be better able to obstruct these attacks – and similar attacks from Russia- would be for U.S. private sector to share more information with the FBI. As he put it, private sector companies “hard drives, their logs, their servers provide key technical dots” to identify how attackers are operating and thus also how they might better be stopped. Wray explained that this information chain would better enable the FBI to establish “who might be targeted next.”
Yet the Senators also gave China a cause for concern on this issue of cyber threats and technology supply chains. As he concluded the hearings, Committee Chairman Senator Mark Warner suggested that the Senate would soon introduce bipartisan legislation to strengthen global alliances on technology supply chains. Were that legislation to advance, it would restrict the Communists’ ability to steal and spy on the United States and its allies.
Still, the top-line takeaway from this hearing is the most basic one: China is a serious threat not just to the United States and its people, but also to the global values of freedom and human rights. The U.S. intelligence community is taking that threat very seriously.
(Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner foreign policy writer)
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