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29 January 2014

Senate Spying Committee Hearing 14-0129 Part 2

[Part 1]

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. I’ve 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 we’ve 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 don’t 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 you’re -- that you’re 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 won’t 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 tomorrow’s battlefield or in some -- in some place where we will put our military forces, you know, when we ask them to go into harm’s way. And I think that’s 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 that accurate?

GEN. FLYNN: Yes, ma’am.

SEN. COLLINS: Thank you.

Mr. Olsen, it’s good to see you again. We’ve worked extensively when I was on the Homeland Security Committee. I want to turn to the impact of the Snowden leaks on our nation’s 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 has?

MR. OLSEN: Senator Collins, the answer that that is yes. As we’ve been discussing the terrorist landscape has become increasingly complex. We’ve seen the geographic diffusion of groups and networks. And that places a premium on our ability to monitor communications. And what we’ve seen in the last six to eight months is an awareness by these groups, and they’re increasingly sophisticated, an awareness of our ability to monitor communications and specific instances where they’ve changed the ways in which they communicate to avoid being surveilled or being subject to our surveillance tactics.

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 ways.

And they have been under challenge with concerns about the NSA programs, the Snowden affair, the effects of sequestration. And they’re disproportionately perhaps in Virginia and Maryland, but they’re all across the country. And I know, Director Clapper, we’ve talked about ways to try to get them some of the recognition. They’re not often recognized in State of the Union addresses. But I hope that we’ll 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 we’re 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 a challenge.

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 it’s 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 can’t give you a good number. And we have a hard time coming up with one. It’s -- whatever it is, it’s 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 challenge.

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 data secure?

DIR. CLAPPER: Well, this is a great concern to all of us. And I -- and to Senator Mikulski’s 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 I’ll 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 you’re -- 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.

I’d ask Director Comey to speak to this, as well.

DIR. COMEY: And Senator, that’s 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 we’re patrolling a street with 50-foot high walls. We can see that the street is safe, but we’re 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 what’s going on and us to tell them what’s 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 that’s 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. I’m going to make a statement -- I’m not going to ask a question; I’ll wait for a second round. If there’s 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 government’s 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. I’m concerned that any change of our current framework would harm both our national security and privacy.

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.

Here’s why. Practically, we do not have the technical capacity to do this. The -- and certainly, it’s 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 can’t just talk about one and two big ones; they’re 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 government’s guardians of vast amounts of intelligence data. They stress that.

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 isn’t. It’s 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 security.

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. I’ve been through many iterations of this, and it’s 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 function.

Additionally, Target’s 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 didn’t under FISA, but they had to. Blanket liability probably did the trick. But that’s 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 don’t 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 that’s an invasion of their privacy.

OK. I used my time, but I can’t 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 don’t the -- I don’t 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 that’s an impossibility. Not yet created, no experience, does not exist. So what does that leave? That leaves the telecommunications companies, and they don’t want it. And they shouldn’t have it, in the interest of national security.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much for that, Senator Rockefeller. I’d like to point out, so the public knows, Senator Rockefeller is chairman of the Commerce Committee, and in my view he knows what he’s talking about.

Senator Burr.

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 we’re grateful for that.

Director Clapper, over the last several years, the committee’s 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 community’s ability to provide tactical warnings of terrorist attacks that are on U.S. interests?

MR. OLSEN: It’s a complicated question. I mean, obviously it’s a focus of ours to be able to provide that level of tactical warning. As we’ve 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 we’ve 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 it’s 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 I’ve said, it’s 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 right now.

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 you’re 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 cyber domain.

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 Iran’s 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 we’re 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 be counterproductive.

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 you’re suggesting is we don’t need new sanctions, even those that have a delayed trigger. It’s 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 doesn’t produce anything useful. And we’ve 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 government’s hands. Is the program effective? Does it make a difference? Is it an important tool or is it something that’s just nice to have?

DIR. CLAPPER: I think it’s 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, that’s 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 people’s concerns and questions about them. They’re reasonable questions. I believe it’s 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 I’ll 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 we’re 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 there’s a network connected to that terrorist. That would take hours.

What this tool allows us to do is do that in minutes. Now, in most circumstances, the difference between hours and minutes isn’t going to be material except when it matters most. And so it’s a useful tool to me because of the agility it offers. And so I think it’s 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 that’s where it matters most to the FBI.

SEN. KING: Thank you.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you. That’s very helpful to the dialogue. Thank you very much, Senator King.

Senator Risch.

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 couldn’t 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, we’ve 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 diligent at.

I bring this up because in my state, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the Idaho National Laboratory, there’s 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 Laboratory.

The problem I have is this. I’ve spent a lot of time there. I’ve spent a lot of time with the people there. And they are grossly underfunded in what they’re doing. Now, that’s true in all areas of government spending, and we’re all under tremendous pressure. I know that. Everybody in this room knows that. And there’s 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. They’re doing a lot of good work in this, and this is an area that we truly do need to be more vigilant on. And it’s unfortunate that Americans can’t 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 I’d 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. That’s something I’ve 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 I’m 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 don’t and really can’t 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, who’s 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 -- it’s impossible to sit here and convey to you what this family is going through. We all say we can’t understand it, and we really can’t. 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 can’t 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.

Director Brennan?

DIR. BRENNAN: Senator, I’d just say that when I was at the White House, I had the honor and privilege to meet with Sergeant Bergdahl’s 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 regard.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SEN. FENSTEIN: Thanks, Senator Risch.

Senator Rubio.

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 it’s 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 there’s still a presence in Afghanistan. In Pakistan there’s the concern about fighters from Syria returning to Europe and other countries. Isn’t this diffusion of their presence and power -- isn’t this an even bigger and more complex challenge than the one that we’re -- 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 we’ve also discussed here today, they’ve 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 formidable threat.


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. It’s spread in terms of the diversity of actors. A number of those actors have a largely local or regional agenda. In other words, they don’t necessarily pose a threat to us here at home, at least not now. And it’s also changed in the way Director Clapper said in that they’ve innovated and they’ve sought out ways to carry out attacks that are not as complicated, that -- and they’ve promoted the idea of lone attacks, or smaller-scale attacks, that would be harder for us to detect.

So in all those ways, it’s 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 he’s done to this country. You know, all the reporting’s been centered on things you’ve 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, I’d ask you this: Are there men and women in military uniform who are potentially in harm’s 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 he’s 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, that’s how I would characterize it.

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 that’s 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, I’m kidding.

DIR. CLAPPER: The Japanese are emerging as great partners. They -- and the passage of this secrets protection law, as it’s 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. I’d 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. It’s 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 it’s 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 law-abiding Americans.

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 I’m going to say, Mr. Director, that I think that’s possible within 30 days to have an answer to that since I’ve asked it repeatedly. If there’s some reason why you can’t 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.)