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Top US Intelligence Chiefs Testify on Global Threats from Russia, China And Iran; Russia is Most Serious Foreign Influence Threat

June 20th, 2022 15:04

The US Depart­ment of Defense report­ed in May that two top US intel­li­gence offi­cials tes­ti­fied before a Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on glob­al threats to the Unit­ed States and its allies ema­nat­ing from Chi­na, Rus­sia, and Iran as well as ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. In their tes­ti­mo­ny, the offi­cials iden­ti­fied Rus­sia as one of the most seri­ous for­eign influ­ence threats and which seeks to “divide West­ern alliances, under­mine US glob­al stand­ing, ampli­fy dis­cord inside the Unit­ed States, and influ­ence US vot­ers and deci­sion mak­ing.” Accord­ing to a US DOD press release:

May 10, 2022 Army Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berri­er, direc­tor of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency, and Avril D. Haines, direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, spoke to the com­mit­tee on the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s 2022 assess­ment of world­wide threats. “The inva­sion has demon­strat­ed Rus­si­a’s intent to over­turn the U.S.-led, rules-based, post-Cold War inter­na­tion­al order, expand its con­trol over the for­mer Sovi­et Union and reclaim what it regards as its right­ful posi­tion on the world stage,” Berri­er said. […] Chi­na also remains a pac­ing threat and a major secu­ri­ty chal­lenge to the Unit­ed States and its allies, he said. “Bei­jing has long viewed the Unit­ed States as a strate­gic com­peti­tor, [and] Chi­na is capa­ble of com­bin­ing its eco­nom­ic, diplo­mat­ic, mil­i­tary and tech­no­log­i­cal pow­er to mount a sus­tained chal­lenge to a sta­ble and open inter­na­tion­al sys­tem.” […] Rus­si­a’s and Chi­na’s capa­bil­i­ties include more lethal, bal­lis­tic and cruise mis­siles, the gen­er­al told the com­mit­tee. Chi­na is grow­ing nuclear stock­piles of mod­ern­ized con­ven­tion­al forces and a range of gray-zone mea­sures, such as the use of ambigu­ous uncon­ven­tion­al forces, for­eign prox­ies, infor­ma­tion manip­u­la­tion, cyber-attacks and eco­nom­ic coer­cion, he said. […] Beyond its inva­sion of Ukraine, Moscow presents a seri­ous cyber threat, a key space com­peti­tor one of the most seri­ous for­eign influ­ence threats to the Unit­ed States, Haines told the com­mit­tee. Using its intel­li­gence ser­vices prox­ies’ wide-rang­ing influ­ence tools, the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment seeks to not only pur­sue its own inter­ests, but also to divide West­ern alliances, under­mine U.S. glob­al stand­ing, ampli­fy dis­cord inside the Unit­ed States, and influ­ence U.S. vot­ers and deci­sion mak­ing, she said. Addi­tion­al­ly, “[the] Iran­ian regime con­tin­ues to threat­en U.S. inter­ests as it tries to erode U.S. influ­ence in the Mid­dle East and trench its influ­ence, … project pow­er in neigh­bor­ing states and min­i­mize threats to regime sta­bil­i­ty,” Haines said:

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Rus­sia is a pro­lif­ic actor in the influ­ence oper­a­tions space, well known for its attempts to inter­fere in the elec­tions of demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­tries, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Unit­ed States. Most of its influ­ence oper­a­tions appear to be con­duct­ed via cyber activities.

Chi­na is known for using “soft pow­er” to sup­port its goals of expand­ing glob­al influ­ence. It has been active­ly attempt­ing to inter­fere in the cur­rent US elec­tions, albeit at a small­er scale than Rus­sia, and to sow con­fu­sion rather than sup­port either candidate.

Iran is one of the most active influ­ence actors in its use of hack­ers and oth­er cyber oper­a­tions. The coun­try also employs a large net­work of affil­i­at­ed groups and orga­ni­za­tions, such as the Islam­ic Cen­ter of Eng­land. Iran also funds PressTV, a glob­al media oper­a­tion in sup­port of its goals.

In Octo­ber 2020, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report report­ed that the US Depart­ment of Defense named Rus­sia, Chi­na, and Iran as the lead­ing play­ers that cyber experts were look­ing at con­cern­ing the Novem­ber election.