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Intelligence Officials Expect ‘Belt Tightening’

DNI James Clapper and CIA Director Leon Panetta, Photo: dni.gov, cia.gov

An array of intelligence officials warned of the possibility of increased budget trimming across the Intelligence Community, even as the threat landscape continues to change, with everything from the national debt to cybersecurity posing potential hazards.

“We all understand that we’re going to be in for some belt tightening,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing this week, according to a Reuters report.

Many in the Intelligence Community are now eying the new Congress, which has its sights firmly set on trimming the federal government’s bottom line.

Clapper said the IC is too, but perhaps for different reasons.

“The debt does pose a potential threat to our national security,” he said. “The financial relationship we have with China is illustrative of that,” he said, because it weakens the United States’ position.

Reuters also reported intelligence officials advised of increasing threats from al-Qaida from toward Yemen, Somalia and the worrisome nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Leon Panetta warned the committee of the  increasing cyber threat, saying cybersecurity is the international “battleground of the future.”

“I know there are a lot of aspects to it,” he said, according to United Press International. “The Internet, the cyber arena is this vastly growing area of information that can be used and abused in a number of ways.”

In fact, rather than replacing the threat from state actors, web-based threats are often being used by state rivals, he suggested.

“Other countries are developing a significant capacity in this area, whether it’s Russia or China or Iran,” Panetta said. “We’re now the subject of literally hundreds of thousands of attacks that come in, in an effort to try to get information.”

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