CIA Gives More Power to Spies to Bolster Intelligence OperationsPosted: July 26, 2017
Pompeo: China, not Russia, poses greatest long-term threat
Bill Gertz reports: The Central Intelligence Agency under President Trump is giving more authority to field operatives and cutting excessive bureaucracy in a bid to boost intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says.
In his first news interview since taking charge of the agency in January, Pompeo also said he believes America’s greatest long-term security challenge is the threat posed by China, not Russia. Excerpts of the interview can be found here.
During the wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of a security conference in Aspen, Colo., Pompeo revealed the CIA is preparing intelligence options for the president, including covert action, for use against North Korea in efforts to counter the threat of a future nuclear missile attack.
He also outlined how the CIA is stepping up counterintelligence programs against foreign spies and leaks of intelligence.
Other disclosures by the CIA chief included new details of North Korea’s drive to develop reliable strategic nuclear missiles and a renewed CIA focus on stealing foreign secrets.
“Look, our primary mission is foreign intelligence,” Pompeo told the Washington Free Beacon.
“That is at the core of what we do, and so the ability to go collect against the most difficult places, the most difficult targets in a way that is not one off, that is deep and robust and redundant, is something this agency is really good at when they are allowed to do it. And the president is going to go let us do it.”
Similar to the Pentagon shift in giving military commanders greater authority to act in the field, the CIA is unleashing its spying power—clandestine operations, intelligence analysis, and technical prowess.
The CIA chief said decentralizing spying authority presents both risks and promise.
“In nearly every one of those cases it increases the risk level,” he said. “It also greatly enhances the likelihood you’ll achieve the outcome you’re looking for.”
The shift followed an internal agency review earlier this year that identified several areas where the CIA needed new guidance, or CIA activities that are allowed under law but had been restricted under President Barack Obama’s administration, Pompeo said.
The CIA director said he meets regularly with Trump during intelligence briefings and noted that the president has been very supportive of agency reforms aimed at improving CIA operations.
A former Army officer who until January was a Republican member of the House, Pompeo said the two most immediate security threats are Islamic State terrorists fleeing the Middle East and North Korea’s aggressive effort to field long-range missiles with nuclear warheads that can strike the United States.
U.S. Faces Growing Threats From China, North Korea
Over the longer term, however, Pompeo singled out China as the most serious security challenge.
While China, Russia, and Iran all are expected to pose significant problems in the future, China is a greater threat because of its robust economy and growing military power—both aimed against the United States.
“I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America of any of those over the medium and long term,” he said.
China’s military is building up forces that are aimed at countering U.S. power projection around the world, he said.
“So you see that, whether it’s going on in the South China or East China Sea, or the work they’re doing in other parts of the world,” Pompeo said.
In acquiring foreign technology, he noted: “If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff, or make sure they can defeat it. And most often, both.”
On North Korea, Pompeo indicated the Trump administration’s new policy of pressuring the Pyongyang regime is based on new intelligence indicating the North Koreans will be able to strike the United States with a nuclear missile in the coming years.
“Whether it’s 10 months or 10 years is difficult from an intelligence perspective to always identify.”
The risk is not whether North Korea can reach U.S. soil with a missile but when the regime will perfect and field a reliable strategic force.
“That’s really the risk,” he said. “It might be that they launch one, put a nuclear warhead and get lucky. That’s bad. We need to prevent that. But the real threat is can they do it in a way that’s reliable such that they have confidence in their deterrent capability.”
“When they get to that point, they hold the United States at risk; the president has made very, very clear he’s not going to permit that to happen,” Pompeo said.
For 20 years, successive administrations have not had to deal with threatening long-range North Korean nuclear missiles … (read more)
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