Ranking Member Himes Delivers Opening Statement at Committee Hearing on Worldwide Threats
Washington, March 9, 2023
Washington, DC — House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Jim Himes (CT-04) today delivered the following opening statement at the Committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats.
Click to watch Ranking Member Himes’ Opening Statement
-Remarks as Delivered-
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to each of our witnesses for appearing today. We are grateful for the important work that the Intelligence Community workforce does every day for our nation.
“The annual World Wide Threats open hearing is a unique opportunity for the public to hear directly from Intelligence Community leadership about the latest assessments of the most pressing national security threats facing the United States. It’s important for the American people to understand the variety of nation states and non-nation state actors that remain of serious concern to our Intelligence agencies and the national security of the United States.
“North Korea’s threatening behavior towards the United States and our South Korean allies continues at a high clip, even as their missile program makes rapid progress.
“Iran’s malign—particularly malign and threatening—behavior in the region and towards the United States threatens us in the region, our allies in the region, and I fear that Iran’s nuclear program has advanced to a point where we would have little warning if they decided to produce weapons grade enriched uranium and move on to the weaponization of that uranium.
“Of course, Russia remains a central threat, one year into Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Last year, Chairman Turner and I had the opportunity to visit Kyiv and meet President Zelenskyy and his leadership to see firsthand the courage of the Ukrainian people who are defending their homeland. The assistance and support we’ve provided along with our allies have frustrated Putin’s ambitions, but we have clearly a long way to go and some thinking to do about how to make sure that the conflict doesn’t continue being the meat grinder that it is.
“Which brings me to China, which is the central, I believe, strategic challenge we face in the world, one marked by a complicated and interdependent economic relationship. Last week, we held a hearing with leaders from the foreign policy community, and Dr. Richard Haass, most recently of the Council on Foreign Relations, observed that however one might characterize our relationship with China, the easy Cold War analogies to the Soviet Union are inapt. The Soviet Union was not integrated into the global economy. For all our discussion of decoupling, the United States and China set a new record in 2022 on two-way trade between our countries, totaling $700 billion. China currently holds close to $1 trillion of United States sovereign debt.
“So how do we respond to an increasingly aggressive and militaristic Chinese approach to world affairs? China clearly aspires to export its authoritarian approach to governance, including the technological tools that enable their regime to restrict speech and surveil their people.
“How well do we know Chinese thinking, intentions, red line, and weaknesses? As the policymakers navigate this difficult path, that will be an essential task for the Intelligence Community.
“A word on technology—which I think I have talked to all of you about—for the first time since the Manhattan Project in the late 1940s, we are not the clear technological leader. Innovation is happening elsewhere and, of course, innovation is happening at a rapid clip inside China. And we no longer live in the era of planes and tanks and battleships. Technology today means artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biosynthesis. None of those are areas in which we want to be even a fast follower; we want to be at the point of the spear on innovation on those things.
“I concur with the Chairman on 702. The people sitting here today understand that 702 authorities must be reauthorized. 702, unlike the Section 215 Metadata Collection Program, is a 24/7, day-by-day essential tool to keeping this country safe. But the Chairman’s not wrong. We have a long way to go to educating the Congress on precisely what those authorities are. I would note that many of the abuses that the Chairman made reference to were misbehavior that occurred not under FISA 702 but under other FISA authorities, I note that just because we have a long way to go in educating the Congress of the United States and the people of the United States about exactly what it is that we’re talking about. And you have a long way to go to validating my statement that this is a 24/7, day-by-day essential tool to keeping the American people safe.
“So, I look forward to our conversation, concur in the Chairman’s view that we are committed to pursuing the important work of this Committee in a bipartisan, thoughtful and constructive way, and welcome you again to testimony here today.”