The US Intelligence Community Sets Out Its Priorities
On Thursday, 30 September 2021, the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee approved the fiscal year 2022 budget for intelligence and intelligence-related activities. These activities cover the work of the Defense Department, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Coast Guard, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Energy Department, the Justice Department, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. As can be seen, there is expected to be close inter-agency cooperation and coordination. With a general understanding of America’s intelligence priorities, it is possible to compile a more accurate picture of what the US will be doing next year: in which regions it will increase activity, and on which areas it will focus the most.
The complete text of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 runs to 155 pages and is available on the Intelligence Committee’s website.
The US intelligence community’s plans include 12 main areas of focus for which funds will be allocated.
1. “Caring for Victims of Anomalous Health Incidents. The bill includes provisions arising out of HPSCI’s [the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s] thorough oversight of the Intelligence Community’s response to Anomalous Health Incidents, which have affected numerous IC officers and government employees, their spouses, and children.”
This refers to the so-called “Havana syndrome”. US officials have recently said that US employees have had health problems in other countries, too. Officially, the decision was made in order to improve and standardise the provision of quality medical care to government officials who have experienced an anomalous health incident. For the CIA in particular, this should ensure the highest level of service for employees in all activities.
2. “Getting Ready for the Next Pandemic. The bill takes several steps to put the IC in a stronger position to face the next pandemic. The bill substantially enhances the authorities of the National Counterproliferation Center to address the full spectrum of foreign biological threats and to provide indications and warnings about emerging biological threats. The bill also includes a report assessing the value of adding the Department of Health and Human Services Office of National Security to the Intelligence Community, as well as mandating additional reporting about the IC’s posture against foreign biological threats of all kinds. The classified annex includes several provisions about pandemic preparedness and global health security.”
This raises a dilemma: does the US intelligence community already know there is going to be a new pandemic or is it simply taking precautionary measures? Judging by the increased activity in the Pentagon’s bio labs around the world and new data on the coronavirus, the US may well be plotting another epidemic, hence the new powers of the country’s official authorities.
3. “Afghanistan – Looking Forward. The bill requires a National Intelligence Estimate … on threats and opportunities arising out of Afghanistan in the next two years, including relations between the Taliban and China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, the Taliban’s approach to human rights, and the safety and ability to secure safe transit of Afghan allies of the United States. The bill also requires a detailed report on our current ability to collect intelligence regarding Afghanistan, including detection and prevention of any increased threats to the homeland, and an assessment of how to improve our capabilities following U.S. withdrawal.”
This item shows that the US will continue to keep a close eye on the region. Although the Taliban has destroyed part of the infrastructure deployed by US intelligence, Washington intends to re-establish an undercover presence in Afghanistan (there are still some sleeper cells and undercover agents). It is also interesting that it refers to controlling the Taliban’s ties with other countries and focuses on certain Afghan allies, i.e., those advocating for US interests in the region.
4. “China and Counterintelligence. The bill requires the FBI’s counterintelligence division to conduct a security assessment of any Chinese-origin product or service before the FBI procures such product or service. Another provision calls for a report on cooperation between China and the UAE regarding defense, security, technology, and other matters.”
This is a technological problem, since various Chinese companies suspected of espionage have become entrenched in the US.
5. “Understanding Transnational White Supremacy. The bill includes a detailed provision that addresses intelligence gaps and sharpens America’s focus on transnational white supremacist extremist threats. Specifically, this bill will improve federal intelligence agencies’ ability to prioritize white supremacist extremist threats, including ties to international groups and their finances. It mandates that the National Counterterrorism Center – alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security – explore and analyze more thoroughly the ideology and objectives driving white supremacist groups with transnational connections, including their leadership and operational structure.”
This section was clearly influenced by the Democratic Party and the globalists, who have decided to shift attention to the so-called “white extremist” issue. It is rather strange that there is no mention of Islamic fundamentalism or drug cartels, as if the activities of the extremists mentioned pose a real threat to US national security. The horror caused by the storming of the US Capitol in January 2021 is probably still lodged firmly in the minds of the Democratic Party functionaries. It is more than likely that the activities of white extremists refer to the supporters of Donald Trump and the QAnon movement. Conspiracy theories are gripping the minds of the US intelligence community, although, for years, that is exactly what US politicians have called investigations into the meddling of US intelligence services in the affairs of other countries.
6. “Restricting Former Intelligence Officers from Misusing Their Skills. The bill imposes a requirement that certain former intelligence officers, who occupied particularly sensitive positions, report employment with a foreign government related to national security, intelligence, or internal security. It also bars such employment for 30 months after working in the IC. The provision includes criminal penalties for those who do not follow the provision, including violating cooling-off period, failing to report employment with a foreign government, or falsifying their reports. The intention of the provision is to discourage former IC employees from providing intelligence services to adversaries or to countries with poor human rights records.”
This item characterises an issue within the US intelligence community, including insider threats like Edward Snowden. Tightening the screws within agencies and new restrictive measures will clearly make the intelligence community a less attractive place to work for US citizens.
7. “Promoting Human Rights. Several provisions advance the Committee’s longstanding interest in protecting and promoting human rights. One provision will help the committee understand how the IC prioritizes enforcing human rights sanctions under current law such as the Global Magnitsky Sanctions and the Khashoggi Ban. Another provision requires reports on cyber vulnerabilities acquired by the IC and on certain foreign commercial providers of cyber vulnerabilities whose services can be used to violate human rights.”
This is yet another focus of the Democrats that is being deployed globally. Previously, the State Department emphasised the topic of enforcing sanctions and imposing new ones. It is clear that the LGBT issue will be politicised, and US intelligence will keep a closer eye on reprisals against homosexuals in states that adhere to and support traditional values.
8. “Detecting and Monitoring Wildfires in the U.S. The bill requires that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency lead a coordinated, interagency review with the Department of Defense, and the organizations within the National Interagency Fire Center, to assess existing technical capabilities and future opportunities to detect and monitor wildfires. This measure ensures the government is leveraging all possible resources, within existing authorities, to provide timely and accurate information to firefighters fighting wildfires, including those in the Western U.S. Those fires are becoming increasingly common and severe because of climate change.”
This is probably the only point aimed at really protecting US national interests.
9. “Great Power Competition in the ‘Gray Zone’. The United States is facing new forms of competition and threats from adversaries using tactics that fall on a spectrum between ordinary statecraft and open warfare. The bill contains a provision mandating a National Intelligence Estimate that uses the IC’s classified reporting to describe how foreign adversaries use gray zone activities to advance their interests and assess what U.S. responses would cause our adversaries to escalate – or deescalate – that activity.”
Here we see a focus on the activities of states and non-state actors that the US finds incomprehensible or unacceptable. These include China’s claim to part of the South China Sea, the situation in southeast Ukraine, Russia’s presence in Syria, etc. The US generally understands “grey zone” to mean any activity that threatens US interests in any way.
10. “Protecting IC Employees. A provision will seek information on cases in which the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] inspector general substantiated claims of reprisal or abuse of authority against DIA managers, and how the resulting disciplinary decisions were made. It also reinforces the critical need for IG [inspector general] independence from agency leadership. The effect is to ensure that employees at that agency are having their allegations fully and thoroughly investigated and senior leaders and managers at all levels are held accountable for their actions.”
Another internal problem within the US intelligence community that they will attempt to solve.
11. “Shining a Light on Saudi Extremism. The bill requires that the Director of National Intelligence prepare a detailed report on the threat of extremist ideologies propagated from Saudi Arabia and the failure of the Government of Saudi Arabia to prevent the propagation of such ideologies.”
This item will clearly worsen relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. While Riyadh may have felt comfortable under Donald Trump’s administration, there is a chance of increased political pressure under the Democrats and even the imposition of smart sanctions on Saudi Arabia in response to some issues. This will force the kingdom to adjust its foreign policy.
12. “Persistent Pursuit of Unexplained Aerial Phenomena. Following a bipartisan oversight hearing on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena [UAP], the bill is carrying a bicameral provision mandating intelligence sharing with the Department of Defense’s UAP task force. The provision will ensure that the task force will be able to fully draw on all classified reporting about UAPs as they continue to investigate this mysterious threat to U.S. airspace and our military forces.”
Although the term UFO is not used, that is exactly what is meant. The US has begun to talk more openly about these strange phenomena from the realm of science fiction. It is not clear how justified this approach is, but, in combination with the point on white extremists, this fascination with unexplained aerial phenomena reeks of conspiracy.