29 January 2014
Senate Spying Committee Hearing 14-0129 Part 2
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
General Flynn, thus far, in the discussion today and in general, there has
been very little focus on the damage that Edwin (sic) Snowden has done to
our military. Ive read the DIA assessment, and it is evident to me
that most of the documents stolen by Mr. Snowden have nothing to do with
the privacy rights and civil liberties of American citizens or even the NSA
collection programs. Indeed, these documents -- and weve heard the
number of 1.7 million documents -- are in many cases multipages. If you printed
them all and stacked them, they would be more than three miles high. I say
that to give the public more information about how extraordinarily extensive
the documents that he stole were. And they dont just pertain to the
NSA; they pertain to the entire intelligence community and include information
about military intelligence, our defense capabilities, the defense industry.
Now, you are the leader of military intelligence. You have also been deployed
for extensive periods in Iraq. You know what the impact is on the military.
Could you share with the committee your assessment of the impact that the
damage that Edward Snowden has done to our military? And in particular, has
he placed our men and women in uniform at greater risk?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN: Senator Collins, thanks for that question.
And on the report that youre -- that youre indicating or
highlighting, we do have a -- I believe, a session in about a week for this
committee to go through the entire report.
The strongest -- the strongest word that I can use to describe, you know,
how bad this is, is -- this has caused grave damage to our national security.
I think another way to address, you know, your question is, you know, what
is -- what are the costs that we are going to incur because of the scale
and the scope of what has been taken by Snowden? And I wont put a dollar
figure, but I know that the scale or the cost to our nation -- you know,
obviously in treasure, in capabilities that are going to have to be examined
-- re-examined and potentially adjusted.
But I think that the greatest cost that is unknown today but we will -- we
will likely face is the cost in human lives on tomorrows battlefield
or in some -- in some place where we will put our military forces, you know,
when we ask them to go into harms way. And I think thats the
greatest cost that we face with the disclosures that have -- that have been
presented so far. And like I said, the strongest word that I can use is this
has caused grave damage to our national security.
SEN. COLLINS: So this caused grave damage to our national security and you
would agree that it puts at risk, potentially, the lives of our troops? Is
GEN. FLYNN: Yes, maam.
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you.
Mr. Olsen, its good to see you again. Weve worked extensively
when I was on the Homeland Security Committee. I want to turn to the impact
of the Snowden leaks on our nations ability to connect the dots and
to protect our citizens from terrorism attacks. You addressed this issue
at a recent conference. Have you seen terrorist groups change their methods
as a direct result of the disclosures of the stolen documents that Mr. Snowden
MR. OLSEN: Senator Collins, the answer that that is yes. As weve been
discussing the terrorist landscape has become increasingly complex. Weve
seen the geographic diffusion of groups and networks. And that places a premium
on our ability to monitor communications. And what weve seen in the
last six to eight months is an awareness by these groups, and theyre
increasingly sophisticated, an awareness of our ability to monitor communications
and specific instances where theyve changed the ways in which they
communicate to avoid being surveilled or being subject to our surveillance
SEN. COLLINS: And obviously that puts us at greater risk of an attack.
MR. OLSEN: It certainly puts us at risk of missing something that we are
trying to see which could lead to putting us at risk of an attack, yes.
SEN. COLLINS: And just to quote you back to yourself, you said: This is not
an exaggeration. This is a fact. And you stand by that?
MR. OLSEN: I absolutely do, yes.
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Senator Warner.
SENATOR MARK WARNER (D-VA): Thank you, Madam Chairman. And I want to start
actually picking up with what Senator Mikulski said. And I think most of
us have made these comments, at least at the outset, even if some of our
colleagues have very distinct policy differences, which is: We need to be
-- I think, continue to express our support for the men and women of the
intelligence community who do these jobs in thankless ways and in dangerous
And they have been under challenge with concerns about the NSA programs,
the Snowden affair, the effects of sequestration. And theyre
disproportionately perhaps in Virginia and Maryland, but theyre all
across the country. And I know, Director Clapper, weve talked about
ways to try to get them some of the recognition. Theyre not often
recognized in State of the Union addresses. But I hope that well continue
to find ways that we can during these tight and challenging times affirm
the very extraordinary work that these men and women do protecting our country.
I want to take my moment to -- Director Clapper on -- again, following up
on what Senator Mikulski raised, I think that the challenges around
cyberterrorism and cyberthreats grow dramatically. (I know ?) the public
report that Mandiant put out a year ago about challenges disproportionately
coming out of China and Russia. I believe you stated last year that you thought
that the effect of cyberattacks on America were estimated cost of close to
$300 billion in economic damage, that damage in terms of direct attack, but
I also think we see time and again cases where intellectual property is taken
and competitors are able to enter into the marketplace, basically leapfrogging
over the whole R&D step because they steal our intellectual capital.
We now have seen -- and I know a series of committees, including my Banking
Subcommittee -- have been looking at the -- some of the data breaches, and
were talking now at 70 million -- loss of data -- personal data information
just on Target alone and -- (inaudible) -- was ill-equipped. I think this
is a(n) indication, though, that by industry, these attackers can find the
weakest link. And even companies that are doing the right thing, if their
colleagues in the industry are not keeping up to the standards, there is
Do you have any sense of -- or whether you -- would you or anybody else on
the panel care to kind of reposit a new number or a different number or a
higher number in terms of the economic threat, the intellectual capital threat
and obviously the personal information threat posed by these cyberactivists?
DIR. CLAPPER: Senator, I think its almost incalculable to total up
what the potential costs may be. This starts from the sheer difficulty of
ascribing value to intellectual property, particularly over time. So the
potential dollar value is inestimable if you consider it in its totality.
So no, I really cant give you a good number. And we have a hard time
coming up with one. Its -- whatever it is, its big.
SEN. WARNER: Does anybody else want to add, comment on -- I guess the question
I would also have, kind of continuing down this lane though, is that I --
as coming -- as someone that came from the IT and telcom sector, I get the
concern about additional government or regulatory burdens, but -- and how
you set it -- an appropriate standard, something that is also as fluid as
this field is. But my gosh, not having some standards, not having -- again,
for the good actors, some safe harbor seems to me to be a real economic
And I guess one of the questions I would have for you in light of the data
breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus -- now we hear Michaels and others -- you
know, what does it say about the ability of the private sector to keep its
DIR. CLAPPER: Well, this is a great concern to all of us. And I -- and to
Senator Mikulskis point earlier, when this -- when this was discussed
a year ago or so and there was a lot of discussion and debate in the Congress
about the need for some cyberlegislation, there has to be, in my view --
and Ill ask others to speak to this -- a partnership between the government
and the private sector, understanding the concerns about burdens being placed
-- regulatory burdens and all that sort of thing that could be placed on
private sector. But the government cannot do all this by itself.
The private sector, particularly if youre -- you know, you have a concern
about the piece of this that I am, which are foreign nation- states, principally
China and Russia, which are the most sophisticated -- represent the most
sophisticated cyber capabilities against us. And then the -- you know, the
litany of other potential threats, be they nonstate actors, hacktivists,
criminals, whether foreign or domestic. And we need -- the civilian sector
is kind of our (DEW line ?), if you will, our first line of defense. So there
-- in my opinion, there needs to be some way where we can depend on that
sector to report to us to enable the government to help them.
Id ask Director Comey to speak to this, as well.
DIR. COMEY: And Senator, thats what I meant in responding to Senator
Mikulski about some of the work we have to do to protect the American people
in this area, getting all tangled up in controversy around surveillance.
Without the cooperation of the private sector, I think of us as were
patrolling a street with 50-foot high walls. We can see that the street is
safe, but were of no use to the folks who need help behind the walls
in those neighborhoods. So we have to find a way for them to tell us whats
going on and us to tell them whats going on, in order to protect the
American people. But it gets caught up in this swirl around, oh my goodness,
the government wants private people to cooperate. We really do, but we want
to do it through clear, lawful guidelines and rules of the road to make those
communities safer on the street and in the neighborhoods.
SEN. WARNER: And I would just -- I know my time is up. And I concur with
you -- and trying to get this collaboration and information sharing is so
critical. And I think -- you know, again, the challenge that these retailers
saw -- in terms of then, when do they cross that line, the duty to report
to the public -- because I think if the public had a full understanding of
how often and how many firms were under daily assault, it would -- you know,
maybe even would make pale the -- some of the concerns they have about some
of the other activities going on. This is a (felony ?) area thats evolving
day to day. And again, I hope the Congress comes back and revisits it.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank, Senator Warner. Senator Rockefeller?
SENATOR JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): Thank you, Madam Chair. Im going to
make a statement -- Im not going to ask a question; Ill wait
for a second round. If theres something I feel so strongly about, I
have to make a statement.
The president announced that Section 215, telephony metadata, should no longer
be stored by the government, and he asked the director of national intelligence
to work with the attorney general to come up with alternative options.
Ultimately, the decision rests with Congress, and this senator absolutely
opposes contracting out this inherently core governmental function.
What seems to be lost in this conversation is that every day, we face a growing
and evolving threat of multiple enemies that could cost American lives. The
terrorist threat remains real and ongoing. The governments ability
to quickly assess the data has protected Americans from terrorist attack.
The hard fact is that our national security interests do not change just
because public opinion on issues fluctuate. The collection and querying of
this metadata is not a private sector responsibility; it is a fundamental,
core government function, and should remain that way. Im concerned
that any change of our current framework would harm both our national security
While the president has made it clear that he understands our intelligence
need for this data, and that we should keep collecting, I do not believe
that he came up with a better alternative. In fact, he just threw it to you,
and ultimately to us.
Heres why. Practically, we do not have the technical capacity to do
this. The -- and certainly, its impossible to do so without the possibility
of massive mistakes or catastrophic privacy violations. There are hundreds
and hundreds of telecommunication companies in this country. They each have
their own niches. So you cant just talk about one and two big ones;
theyre all -- they got niches, they are all going to have to go into
this protocol. Prospects are just daunting, and to me ridiculous. They do
not want to become agents of the governments. They do not want to become
the governments guardians of vast amounts of intelligence data. They
The telecom providers themselves do not want to do this, and for good reason.
The telecom companies do not take an oath of allegiance to protect domestically
and internationally. Small matter? No, it isnt. Its a big matter.
They are neither counterterrorist agencies nor privacy protection organizations.
They are businesses. They are interested in the bottom line, and they are
focused on rewarding their shareholders, not protecting privacy or national
I have served on the Commerce Committee for 30 years. And I know the telephone
companies sometimes make empty promises about consumer protection and
transparency. Ive been through many iterations of this, and its
not happy. Corporations -- core profit motives can and sometimes have trumped
their holding to their own public commitments.
My concerns about private providers retaining this data for national security
purposes are only heightened by the advent of the multibillion dollar data
broker industry that mines troves of data -- including telephone numbers,
which it uses to determine our most personal inclinations. One data broker
holds as much as 75,000 different data points about each one of us, including
our health and financial status. This is staggering. Further involving the
telecom providers in the extended storage of this data for intelligence purposes
would not only make the data subject to discovery in certain lawsuits, but
it would also make it more vulnerable to theft by hackers or foreign intelligence
organizations -- another powerful reason to be against private companies
taking the responsibility for an inherently government function, core government
Additionally, Targets recent loss of 110 million American consumers
personal information to hackers -- to hackers do not reassure me at all that
moving this sensitive data to the private sector for intelligence purposes
would adequately protect consumers privacy. Moving this data away from
the stringent audits and oversight mechanisms that this committee has worked
over the years to put in place -- and now has added on 20 more amendments,
to do more; it makes it less vulnerable to abuse. I want to reiterate: The
telecom providers want no part of it. They say so. They never have. They
didnt under FISA, but they had to. Blanket liability probably did the
trick. But thats a very different situation. This is not a foundation
for a good partnership.
In fact, for context, under the existing system there are only 22 supervisors
in the intelligence directorate -- highly trained and skilled -- and 33
intelligence analysts who work specifically in the intelligence directorate.
These are professionals. They have spent their careers preparing to do this
job and to do it well. They work in an extremely controlled environment,
with anonymized data. Their queries are subject to multiple overlapping checks,
audits and inspections -- and keeping in mind that these queries involve
only anonymous numbers. No name, no content, no location. Unlike many private
companies, no one is listening to your private conversations or reading your
email. The data is highly secure. It is secure, and the queries of the data
are conducted only by highly trained professionals -- which the telecom companies
do not have and could not be trained to have for a very long period of time,
plus they dont want any part of it.
Last year, this committee worked to significantly strengthen 215 oversight
with the adoption of 20 major reforms, making the telecom providers keep
the metadata for intelligence purposes, where we need it to be searched.
We introduced a whole new range of privacy and security concerns.
I think going down this path will threaten, not strengthen our ability to
protect this country and the American people from a terrorist attack, and
thats an invasion of their privacy.
OK. I used my time, but I cant tell you how strongly I feel about this.
The president left us in a very interesting position. He said, I want to
keep collecting -- I want to keep collecting, but I dont the -- I
dont want the government to maintain -- NSA to maintain the metadata.
And then he started talking about another entity, a private entity. I think
we all agree, long-hence, that thats an impossibility. Not yet created,
no experience, does not exist. So what does that leave? That leaves the
telecommunications companies, and they dont want it. And they
shouldnt have it, in the interest of national security.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much for that, Senator Rockefeller. Id
like to point out, so the public knows, Senator Rockefeller is chairman of
the Commerce Committee, and in my view he knows what hes talking about.
SENATOR RICHARD BURR (R-NC): Thank you, Chairman. Gentleman, welcome.
Thank you for what you do day in and day out and thank your colleagues. As
the vice chairman said, he and I had the opportunity to be in Afghanistan
for part of last week and we met with many people who work for you and are
doing a great job in a very challenging and difficult area of the world and
were grateful for that.
Director Clapper, over the last several years, the committees had some
difficulty receiving timely briefings after significant events or terrorist
attacks despite the commitment we had from you that those briefings would
happen within 24 hours. Moving forward, will you renew your commitment to
the committee to brief us on those events in a timely fashion?
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, sir. We always strive to do that.
SEN. BURR: Director Olsen, without getting into sensitive sources and methods,
how would you characterize the intelligence communitys ability to provide
tactical warnings of terrorist attacks that are on U.S. interests?
MR. OLSEN: Its a complicated question. I mean, obviously its
a focus of ours to be able to provide that level of tactical warning. As
weve discussed, the nature of the threat has become significantly more
geographically spread out and that challenges the community in collecting
the kinds of information that would provide that type of tactical warning.
And weve seen the types of smaller scale attacks, particularly on soft
targets. I think, for example, of the attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
That type of attack, using small arms, a small number of individuals puts
a great deal of pressure on us in order to provide the type of tactical warning
that would save lives under those circumstances. So its a focus of
ours. We have increased our cooperation and interaction in particular with
the State Department and diplomatic security as a community. We come together
as a community to do that. But as Ive said, its difficult to
provide the level of tactical warning that would provide, you know, the advanced
warning necessary to preserve lives under those circumstances.
SEN. BURR: Thank you. Director Brennan, without getting into sensitive sources
and methods, how would you assess the counterintelligence capabilities of
al-Qaida and its affiliates?
DIR. BRENNAN: Increasingly good and unfortunately I think they just have
to pick up the paper sometimes or do some Google searches for what has been
disclosed and leaked. And they really do go to school on that and they adapt
their practices accordingly and they take steps to protect their ability
to communicate, to move and to operate. And so, we are giving them I think
the substance for their counterintelligence programs.
SEN. BURR: Thank you. Director Comey, can you assure this committee, the
Congress and the American people that the FBI has and will continue to pursue
the individuals who killed four Americans in Benghazi?
DIR. COMEY: Absolutely, Senator. You have that commitment. It remains one
of our very top priorities. I have a lot of people working very hard on it
SEN. BURR: We realize that the ability to share actions that the bureau might
have taken in this case are limited. But I think I speak for the entire committee
that any time we can be briefed on progress, I hope you will do so.
DIR. COMEY: Yes, sir.
SEN. BURR: General Flynn, when I saw one of my colleagues ask about
cybersecurity, it seemed like you had something you wanted to contribute
to that. Let me give you this opportunity because I think youre in
a unique position to comment on it.
GEN. FLYNN: Well, I would just offer on cybersecurity, one of the other aspects,
you know, Director Clapper mentioned state actors. I think that what is a
serious threat that we are paying very close attention to are these
non-nation-state groups and actors, al-Qaida being among them, as one
organization among many others or what I would just described as in the
transnational organized criminal elements that are also operating in the
And they have no rules that they have to adhere to. And they are increasingly
adapting to an environment that is actually benefiting them. And so, I think
that we -- while we definitely need to pay attention to those nation-states
that have, you know, that in some cases have parity with us, we also have
to pay very close attention to the non-nation-state actors that are out there
that are doing things like we see that have already been described here today.
And that to me is an increasingly growing threat.
SEN. BURR: Great. I thank once again all of you for your willingness to be
here. I thank the chairman. I yield the time.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Senator Burr. Senator King?
SENATOR ANGUS KING (D-ME): Thank you, Madame Chairman. Mr. Clapper -- Director
Clapper, do you have an intelligence assessment of the impact of the interim
agreement on Irans nuclear program? Does it -- does it slow it down,
pause it, the requirements, as you know, about dilution and limitations of
centrifuges and those kinds of things? Is this going to have a real impact
on the progress of the nuclear capability in Iran?
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, it will, Senator King. Clearly it gets at the key thing
were interested in and most concerned about is the more highly enriched
uranium, the 20 percent enriched uranium. So yes, it does.
SEN. KING: Second question, you told us back on the 20th, quote, We
judge that the -- that new sanctions would undermine the prospects of a
successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Iranian Foreign
Minister Zarif in early December said that the entire deal would be, quote,
dead, if the international community imposed new sanctions. Is
that still your view?
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, sir. It would be good to have them in reserve if we need
them but I think right now the imposition of more sanctions would be -- would
SEN. KING: Now, how do you mean in reserve? If the Congress passed them,
would you consider --
DIR. CLAPPER: Well, obviously the Iranians understand our system and the
point there is if the -- if we had any additional sanctions right now, I
think this would -- you know, the Iranians would live up to their word and
it would jeopardize the agreement. But they understand that this is a subject
of great interest in the U.S. Congress and to me, just that fact alone is
a great incentive to ensure compliance with the bargain.
SEN. KING: So what youre suggesting is we dont need new sanctions,
even those that have a delayed trigger. Its the knowledge that Congress
can impose them that provides the impetus.
DIR. CLAPPER: That would be my view, yes, sir.
SEN. KING: Thank you. Another question for you, Director Clapper. There have
been suggestions from outside groups, and we hear it all the time, that section
215 really doesnt produce anything useful. And weve had testimony
about plots thwarted.
In order for us to assess this difficult issue, which, as Senator Rockefeller
pointed out, the president sort of tossed back in our laps, on the one hand
we want to weigh national security concerns and the importance and significance
of the program against privacy rights and the concerns of the public about
having large amounts of telephony -- telephonic data in the governments
hands. Is the program effective? Does it make a difference? Is it an important
tool or is it something thats just nice to have?
DIR. CLAPPER: I think its an important tool and I also think, and I
said this before, that simply using the metric of plots foiled is not necessarily
a way to get at the value of the program. What it does is allows us to eliminate
the possibility of a terrorist nexus in a domestic context.
So for example, last summer when I think 20 or so diplomatic facilities in
the Mid-East were closed because of various threat conditions and in the
course of that we came across nine selectors that pointed -- indicated --
pointed to the United States. So the use of this tool, the 215 tool, enabled
us to quickly eliminate the possibility of a domestic nexus. So to me,
thats another important way of considering the value of the 215 program.
SEN. KING: Director Comey, do you have views on the significance of 215?
You understand this is not easy for this committee. The public is very skeptical
and in order for us to continue to maintain it, we have to be convinced that
it is in fact effective and not just something that the intelligence community
thinks is something nice to have in their toolkit.
DIR. COMEY: Yeah, I totally understand peoples concerns and questions
about them. Theyre reasonable questions. I believe its a useful
tool. For the FBI, its primary value is agility. That is, it allows us to
do in minutes what would otherwise take us in hours. And Ill explain
what I mean by that. If a terrorist is identified in the United States or
something blows up in the United States, we want to understand, OK, is there
a network that were facing here?
And we take any telephone numbers connected to that terrorist, to that attack.
And what I would do in the absence of 215 is use the legal process that we
use every day, either grand jury subpoenas or national security letters,
and by subpoenaing each of the telephone companies I would assemble a picture
of whether theres a network connected to that terrorist. That would
What this tool allows us to do is do that in minutes. Now, in most circumstances,
the difference between hours and minutes isnt going to be material
except when it matters most. And so its a useful tool to me because
of the agility it offers. And so I think its a healthy discussion to
discuss so what might replace it and how would we change it. I would just
want folks to understand what the trade-offs would be in any diminution in
that agility. But thats where it matters most to the FBI.
SEN. KING: Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Thats very helpful to the dialogue. Thank
you very much, Senator King.
SENATOR JAMES RISCH (R-ID): Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Director Clapper, I want to compliment you for how you put together your
statement here in putting cybersecurity at the top. This is the one open
hearing we have every year, and those of us sitting in this panel spend at
most a couple afternoons a week going through this stuff.
I think the American public really does not have an understanding of how
important this threat is. I noticed you put it ahead of terrorism, you put
it ahead of weapons of mass destruction, you put it ahead of proliferation.
And I think you wisely did that. You said that the industrial control systems
and supervisory control and data acquisition systems used in water management,
oil and gas pipelines, electrical power distribution and mass transit provides
an enticing target to malicious actors. And I couldnt agree with you
more except I think that that is a real understatement of what the situation
is out there.
Certainly they are attractive targets, but more importantly than that,
weve got chinks in our armor, as you know. And although we do our best
with firewalls and what have you, this is something we just got to get more
I bring this up because in my state, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the Idaho
National Laboratory, theres nobody doing more on supervisory control
and data acquisition matters, and we also have the isolatable transmission
and distribution system we call the loop and a very important
wireless test bed national user facility at the -- at the Idaho National
The problem I have is this. Ive spent a lot of time there. Ive
spent a lot of time with the people there. And they are grossly underfunded
in what theyre doing. Now, thats true in all areas of government
spending, and were all under tremendous pressure. I know that. Everybody
in this room knows that. And theres no bigger advocate for cutting
than I am. But inasmuch as you have put this at the top of your priorities,
what I would urge you to do is to review our priorities of spending and look
at these particular operations at the Idaho National Laboratory. Theyre
doing a lot of good work in this, and this is an area that we truly do need
to be more vigilant on. And its unfortunate that Americans cant
hear the kinds of things that we hear that are really quite frightening as
far as what the possibilities are if we are subject to a cyberattack in this
and many other areas. So Id urge you to consider that, Director Clapper,
and appreciate your bringing this to the forefront and to the focus.
DIR. CLAPPER: Senator, thanks very much for that. It gives me a chance to
say something about the entirety of the DOE lab complex, which is a phenomenal
contributor to U.S. national intelligence. It has unique expertise, unique
technical competence that is unmatched anywhere else in the intelligence
community. Thats something Ive been working with DOE headquarters
to try to rationalize the way in which we convey funding from the national
intelligence program to all the labs. So Im very sensitive to that,
and I appreciate your bringing it up.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you, Director Clapper. We appreciate that also. And I think
the American people will appreciate that even though they dont and
really cant know all the details of it.
Director Brennan and Director Flynn, these next remarks are directed to you.
I have a constituent, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, whos being held captive.
And I want to publicly thank you for the exchanges, the information and the
frequent interchange between both myself and your office and my staff and
your office staffs. I -- its impossible to sit here and convey to you
what this family is going through. We all say we cant understand it,
and we really cant. And obviously without getting into classified material
or saying something unintentionally that would impact his safety, I think
we can go a long ways to helping this family have some peace if you would
reiterate publicly, as you have to me privately, about what high area of
concern this is for the United States government to return Sergeant Bowe
Bergdahl to us personally.
GEN. FLYNN: Yeah. And Senator, thanks for reminding the American public about
Bowe and his plight right now. I would tell you that every soldier that we
have on the battlefield that is in a situation like that is -- becomes our
number-one priority. There are 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are
dedicated resources to doing everything we can to bring him home safe and
sound. And I -- and I would just say to the family, I cant imagine
what they go through, but they have our absolute commitment from the -- all
the leadership -- and I know I can speak from this table here from the
intelligence community but definitely all the leadership inside of the Department
of Defense -- to bring him home safe and sound.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you, Director.
DIR. BRENNAN: Senator, Id just say that when I was at the White House,
I had the honor and privilege to meet with Sergeant Bergdahls mother
and father. It was a very moving experience, and I told them then that we
would do everything possible to bring their son home safely. He is somebody
who is -- was on the front lines keeping this country safe. And I know that
we are doing that on a regular basis. And so we -- our thoughts and prayers
are with the family as well as with Sergeant Bergdahl.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts in that
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SEN. FENSTEIN: Thanks, Senator Risch.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Thank you. Thank you all for being here today.
I wanted to touch on something that was actually touched upon last night
in the State of the Union and may have been addressed earlier before I came.
And its just on the one hand we keep hearing how the core of al-Qaida
has been significantly degraded, particularly in its presence in the FATA
and et cetera and then in the -- in Afghanistan before that.
But on the other hand we see that their power is now growing in a diffuse
way. We see them in North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and of course
theres still a presence in Afghanistan. In Pakistan theres the
concern about fighters from Syria returning to Europe and other countries.
Isnt this diffusion of their presence and power -- isnt this
an even bigger and more complex challenge than the one that were --
than when their core was centralized in one place?
DIR. CLAPPER: Well, Senator -- let me start, Senator Rubio -- actually it
is because of the dispersal of the -- and the growth of the so-called franchises
into many other areas of the world, much more globally dispersed, that plus
the fact that, as weve also discussed here today, theyve gone
to school on us on how we try to track them -- so the combination of those
factors, the geographic dispersal and the increasing challenges in collecting
against them, makes al-Qaida in all of its forms a very -- in total a very
DIR. OLSEN: Senator, I agree wholeheartedly with Director Clapper. It --
I think it is important to think about the threat in a number of different
ways. So there is a group, core al-Qaida. And as the president said last
night, that group is on the path to defeat. That is the group that brought
forward 9/11, led by Zawahiri. Operationally, that group is not fwhat it
was 10 years ago. It is the ideological leader of a movement that has spread.
And that movement has spread both in terms of the geographic presence in
a number of different countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
Its spread in terms of the diversity of actors. A number of those actors
have a largely local or regional agenda. In other words, they dont
necessarily pose a threat to us here at home, at least not now. And its
also changed in the way Director Clapper said in that theyve innovated
and theyve sought out ways to carry out attacks that are not as
complicated, that -- and theyve promoted the idea of lone attacks,
or smaller-scale attacks, that would be harder for us to detect.
So in all those ways, its a more complicated and more challenging threat.
SEN. RUBIO: Thank you. The second issue I wanted to focus on -- really bothers
me sometimes -- is these romanticized notions about who Edward Snowden is
and what hes done to this country. You know, all the reportings
been centered on things youve read in the papers about the 215 programs.
But his revelations go above and beyond that.
Is it safe to say that he has not just compromised operations but there are
Americans and allies who are at risk because of the actions of this individual?
DIR. CLAPPER: Absolutely, sir. Yes.
SEN. RUBIO: And is it also safe to say that -- well, General Flynn, Id
ask you this: Are there men and women in military uniform who are potentially
in harms way because of what this individual has done?
GEN. FLYNN: Senator, I believe there are.
SEN. RUBIO: Is it safe to say that the revelations that hes made --
that this individual has done is perhaps the gravest violation and most
significant and most harmful revelation of American intelligence secrets
in our history?
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, sir. As I stated at the outset, thats how I would
SEN. RUBIO: OK. I wanted to ask you quickly about Asia. I just returned from
a trip to Japan. I know that they have recently made changes to their
intelligence -- the laws governing their intelligence programs. Could you
comment -- whoever would be appropriate -- briefly on how thats increased
our ability to partner with them and how you see the opportunities to more
fully engage with the Japanese on intelligence sharing, given their increased
capacity and the protections now afforded via that law?
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, sir. I was aware of your visit and appreciate your engagement
with some of our intel people.
SEN. RUBIO: Are you following me? (Laughs.) No, Im kidding.
DIR. CLAPPER: The Japanese are emerging as great partners. They -- and the
passage of this secrets protection law, as its called, are going to
do just as you inferred -- enable us to do more sharing with us.
We are in -- have agreed on a recent -- recently on an intelligence-sharing
arrangement where they will be sharing with us. Id be happy to go into
more detail about this, but they are really emerging as great intelligence
partners, and this extends to the prime minister.
SEN. RUBIO: Thank you.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Senator Rubio.
That completes the round. Its my understanding that members do not
request a second round with one exception, and that is Senator Wyden who
would like to ask a 10-second question. Questions will be sent to the panel
and hopefully you will respond to them rather promptly.
Your 10 seconds is upon you.
SEN. WYDEN: Thank you, Madame Chair.
This is a request for the record, General Clapper, and its apropos
of the good point that Senator King made. He asked you and General Comey
whether bulk collection of all these phone records on law-abiding Americans
are necessary to prevent terror, and you all said that it was because of
timeliness. As you know, the independent review commission at -- page 104
of their report said that was not the case. They could get the data in a
timely way without collecting all of these millions of phone records on
So if you all would for the record -- and I would ask this as well before
-- give us an example of the time when you needed a record that was so old
that the relevant phone company no longer had it. And Im going to say,
Mr. Director, that I think thats possible within 30 days to have an
answer to that since Ive asked it repeatedly. If theres some
reason why you cant do it, please let me know.
Thank you, Madame Chair.
DIR. CLAPPER: Yes, sir.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you, and you had a long 10 seconds.
SEN. WYDEN: I was out of breath.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Be grateful.
SEN. WYDEN: Thank you.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
And gentlemen, thank you very much, and the people that you represent. This
committee appreciates their service and your service.
So the hearing is adjourned. (Sounds gavel.)