A U.S. Senate committee has recommended that the nation’s intelligence agencies undergo reform in order to better counter America’s adversaries.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its redacted report (pdf) on Sept. 20. The document was based on two years of independent and nonpartisan research into foreign intelligence threats facing the nation.
Committee Vice Chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a statement saying that foreign nations including China were rapidly developing new capabilities to target the United States for espionage.
“Foreign adversarial governments, including the People’s Republic of China, are now targeting all sectors of U.S. society,” Rubio said, using the official name of communist China.
“This Committee aims to ensure that the American public, industry, and academia are aware of this, and also to ensure that the Intelligence Community has the authorities and resources necessary to effectively confront these new counterintelligence threats.”
The report detailed two years of investigation intended to assess the mission, duties, authorities, resources, and structure of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC). The NCSC is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which provides counterintelligence support to the U.S. Intelligence Community, federal government, and private entities.
Among the report’s conclusions was that U.S. spy agencies were frequently impeded in their efforts to conduct counterintelligence due to miscommunication, funding issues, and a failure to coordinate between agencies.
The report said that the NCSC was not postured to effectively confront the whole-of-society threats now being faced. It said it would need to better clarify the NCSC’s mission, structure, and responsibilities.
Moreover, the report recommended that a new, government-wide definition of counterintelligence would need to be developed in order to better position and respond to the modern threat landscape, cyberattacks, and influence operations targeting Americans.
Committee Chair Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that sweeping changes would need to be made to the nation’s counterintelligence posture if it were to successfully combat the threat.
“The United States faces a dramatically different threat landscape today than it did just a couple of decades ago,” Warner said.
“New threats and new technology mean that we have to make substantial adjustments to our counterintelligence posture if we are going to protect our country’s national and economic security.”
The committee’s report follows a contentious year in Sino–American relations. The Department of Justice previously linked Chinese communist intelligence agencies to plots to spy on, harass, intimidate, and even attack U.S. citizens critical of the regime.
Despite the continued pressure from China’s ruling communist regime, the Biden administration terminated the Justice Department’s anti-espionage China Initiative in February and has not replaced it with a new program.