By Debbie Gregory.
Summarizing his annual assessment of the world issues facing the United States, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that worldwide threats constitute a “litany of doom.”
Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, and Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart had very little positive news to offer.
Drug Trafficking- Heroin seizures at the Southern U.S. border have doubled in the last six years, and cocaine production has increased significantly. Tens of thousands of people have died from drug overdoses.
Iran- The U.S. intelligence community is in a “distrust and verify mode” to ensure that Iran complies with the nuclear deal.
North Korea- Test-firing missiles and carrying out nuclear tests to firm up domestic support and intimidate his rivals, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is also advertising what is available to buyers with the ability to meet his asking price.
Space-Both Clapper and Stewart described increasing competition in space, especially from Russia and China. Clapper’s report states that the more aggressive push from Russia and China may threaten U.S. use of military, civil, and commercial space systems.
Terrorism- Outside of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS) is making gains in Libya. Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, Clapper said conditions in Libya in some ways resemble Iraq and Syria before the Islamic State’s takeover there. The country has become a hotbed of warring militias with clashing ideologies. Brennan warned the Islamic State is well-positioned to make further gains in the country.
Technology- Comey said an unspecified encryption system has so far prevented his agents from getting access to what he implied was a key piece of evidence in their investigation of the attack in San Bernardino, California. Widespread availability of encryption tools has blocked access to suspects’ communications.