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Video: Senate Intel Chairman Sen. Mark Warner Speaks About “Worldwide Threats,” Singles Out “rising China and a revanchist Russia”

Russia "is now a pariah state"; "China is unlike any adversary we have faced before"

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See below for video and a transcript of Sen. Mark Warner, speaking this morning in his capacity as Senate Intel Chairman, as part of the “annual Worldwide Threats Hearing.”

Below are Chairman Warner’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Good morning.  I call this hearing to order.  Welcome to our witnesses: 

  • Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines;
  • CIA Director, Bill Burns;
  • FBI Director, Chris Wray;
  • Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone; and
  • DIA Director, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier. 

Thank you for being here today, and also to the thousands of dedicated professionals of America’s Intelligence Community whom you represent.  

The annual Worldwide Threats Hearing is critically important.  It is not only an opportunity for the intelligence agencies to inform our Members of the many threats and opportunities facing the United States, it is also an opportunity to inform the American public.  It is why last year – after there not being a Worldwide Threats Hearing in 2020 – Congress codified this briefing requirement in law. 

This dialogue and transparency is a fundamental pillar of democracy.  It allows the American people to appreciate the IC’s usually secret mission, and also to hold our Nation’s security agencies accountable. 

In that light, I want to first express my gratitude for the accuracy with which the IC predicted Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine.  These warnings made plain for all to see the lies of the Kremlin, and exposed Russian plans for a false pretext to its invasion, complicating Putin’s calculus. 

Right now, Putin is waging an illegal and disastrous war in Ukraine with horrific humanitarian consequences.  Mr. Putin had hoped to restore Russia’s greatness.  But what he got was a Russia that is now a pariah state as his invasion has been almost universally condemned.  

NATO is more unified than ever.  Russia’s economy suffers under crippling sanctions from a global coalition, including the E.U., Japan, Switzerland, and many others.  And businesses are fleeing the Russian market… All while the people of Ukraine demonstrate a bravery and determination to defend their country against the madness of Putin’s attempts at authoritarian subjugation.  It is clear that Putin miscalculated. 

But Putin’s actions are a reminder that the strategic security environment is ever changing and evolving, and the IC is our first line of defense. 

Even as Russia acts to upend the relative stability of the post-World War Two order in Europe, we cannot take our eye off of what I believe to be our most challenging strategic competitor – the Chinese Communist Party of Xi Jinping. 

China is unlike any adversary we have faced before.  Not only has it demonstrated intent and capability to compete with the United States militarily, but also compete with us economically and – I believe, most worryingly – technologically. 

I got my start in telecom some 40 years ago, but I could not have imagined then the innovations that shape our lives today – social media, satellite communications, high-performance computing, semiconductors… Technology has become so integral to our lives, our economy, and national security that whomever wins the innovation race will dominate the global landscape for generations. 

And we already see China attempting that today.

Relying on strategic investments, cyber, and traditional espionage to acquire intellectual property in key technologies, China is focused on undermining the United States as the world’s leading technological power.  And unlike the United States, China will use that power to spread its authoritarian ideals, whether through economic coercion – like Belt and Road – or infiltrating international standards setting bodies.  It is why the United States must aggressively invest in the talent, tools, and research to lead in tomorrow’s technologies, like quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and biomedical engineering.

A rising China and a revanchist Russia – both headed by authoritarian regimes seeking to undermine the cause of democratic government worldwide – are stark reminders that the free and liberal international order is not guaranteed.  It requires conviction, leadership, and sometimes, sacrifice – as we are seeing today, with Ukrainians standing up in defense of democracy and their freedoms literally with their lives.

Now while I have focused on China and Russia, I know there are a multitude of other threats that I haven’t addressed – from rogue states like Iran and North Korea… the persistent threat of terrorism, which is even more diffuse today… to the ongoing global pandemic and future emerging global health threats… to the continued and pressing threat of global warming, which looms ever closer despite seemingly more immediate national security challenges.  Suffice it to say, our worldwide threat picture is more dynamic and complicated than ever.

I look forward to today’s very important discussion.

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