Director of National Intelligence James Clapper outlined a long list of global threats during his testimony before House legislators Tuesday, including the Syrian conflict and its spillover in Iraq and Lebanon; the millions of refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon; potential fallout from the drawdown in Afghanistan; growth in foreign cyber capabilities; and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Clapper also highlighted “aggressive nation-state intelligence efforts against the United States, an assertive Russia, a competitive China, a dangerous and unpredictable North Korea, a challenging Iran, the lingering ethnic divisions in the Balkans, and perpetual conflict and extremism throughout Africa,” according to a Feb. 4 Pentagon release. “I could go on with this litany, but suffice to say that we live in a complex, dangerous world,” Clapper told members of the House Select Intelligence Committee. In addition, Clapper said the leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden “are making our jobs much, much harder.” Since the leaks, he said, terrorists and other adversaries have been able to gain insight into US intelligence methods and sources. “The stark consequences of this perfect storm are plainly evident,” he added. “This intelligence community is going to have less capacity to protect our nation and its allies than we’ve had.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.