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Rubio Delivers Remarks at Senate Intelligence Hearing
Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered opening remarks at a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence nominations hearing on national security nominees.
Watch opening remarks here.
Watch questions here.
Read a transcript below.
“One of the most interesting things about this hearing is that it really goes to the very foundation of what this is all about, what we do in the intelligence community in our country….
“Some of the most foundational intelligence this country has collected continues to be through technical means. And that’s what you will be stepping up to do here. It’s critically important. It informs not just the IC and the Department of Defense. It informs all kinds of public policy. It allows us not just to see what’s coming in a month or in a year, but what long term trends could be. In this era, in which so much is interconnected through technical means, it is the most foundational intelligence that we collect on a regular basis, and it informs all of the other agencies. It serves everyone in that regard. And so it’s critically important to protect these capacities.
“As you know, we’re coming up, at the end of this year, on the need to reauthorize what is basically at the heart and soul of our ability to collect on foreign targets: 702. I hope the current administration will prioritize their efforts to move on that, because we are running out of time here to get that done.
“On the counterintelligence front, I think that’s been as challenging as it’s ever been in modern times. We are facing a return to an era of great power competition. It’s a phrase that’s thrown around a lot. But I got here in 2010, when the singular focus, not just of this committee, but of the national security apparatus, was counterterrorism. And it remains a challenge.
“Now, it’s increasingly about China and Russia, but also what’s happening with North Korea, a rogue state with nuclear weapons, as well as Iran and its ambitions. [It’s about] this emerging alignment of countries around the world who may not be our enemies, but aren’t going to be our allies, and who are looking for different ways to leverage the international stage to their advantage and play both sides.
“Embedded in that is a real counterintelligence challenge, for two reasons. The first is that with great power comes the ability to also do technical collection. But the other, that’s increasingly challenging for us, is [influence operations]. Propaganda and disinformation and influence operations have existed in the case of every war fought in the last 5,500 years of recorded history. But never before has it been so easy to do at such a low cost….
“[We need to counteract] the effort to drive messages that divide and pit Americans against each other, that seed information into our ecosystem, in which free speech is protected by our Constitution, in ways designed to demoralize and undermine our willingness to fight and our capability to unite behind important causes. That has to be balanced with the reality that we still need to ensure that our intelligence agencies can never be turned upon our citizens.
“In fact, the most dangerous moments in the history of our intelligence community have been when it was revealed that they were spying on people who were against the Vietnam War or political enemies of those in office – I’m not talking about now, I’m talking about in the 60s, 70s, and 80s – to the point where those revelations almost destroyed our intelligence agencies in our country.
“So whether it’s the foundational elements of our intelligence collected through technical means or our ability to withstand, not just great power competition…, but the influence operations of not-so-great powers…, we face unique challenges that look very different than they did 10 years ago, and that are rapidly evolving. You’re stepping into these roles at a critical time for our country and for the future of geopolitics.”