Senator Lankford Discusses Russia, Drug Trafficking, Cyber Threats & Iran During Intel Hearing
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a rare open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats. This is an annual hearing that the Committee holds to examine America’s greatest national security threats from around the globe. Lankford used the opportunity to question U.S. intelligence and national security leaders on the Russia investigation, drug trafficking, cyber threats and Iran.
The hearing witnesses included: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; CIA Director Michael Pompeo; Director of the National Security Agency Admiral Michael Rogers; Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart; and Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Robert Cardillo.
Senator Lankford on Russia Investigation: You have the resources that you need for the Russian investigation, is that correct? The actions regarding James Comey have not curtailed the investigation from the FBI, correct?
FBI Director McCabe: Absolutely, Senator.
Lankford: No agents have been removed that are the folks doing the investigation?
McCabe: No, sir.
Lankford: Is it your impression that the FBI is unable to complete the investigation in a fair and expeditious way because of the removal of James Comey?
McCabe: It is my opinion and belief the FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely.
Lankford: Do you need someone else to do it?
McCabe: No, sir.
Senator Lankford on Drug Trafficking: What can the FBI do to stop the movement of illegal narcotics online and through our mail system?
McCabe: The traffic of illegal narcotics is something that we, along with our partners at the DEA and other federal state and law enforcement officers have focused on for years. We have had great success, but the threat continues to change and develop, and confront us in different ways. The perfusion of illegal online pharmacies is one of those ways, and it is something we are learning more about, spending more time on every day.
Senator Lankford on Cyber Threats: Director Coats, we had talked about a cyber doctrine and it is one thing that other actors need to understand what our boundaries are and this seems to be talked to death. Everyone says it needs to occur. Who is meeting to make sure that when we meet a year from now, we are not talking about we need to get a cyber doctrine? Who should we hold accountable if we do not have a cyber doctrine?
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: I think all of us would agree we need a cyber doctrine because it is one of the top, if not the number one threat today that we are dealing with. As you know, the President’s task force efforts are under the direction of former Mayor Giuliani with this. That has not led to a conclusion at this particular point in time. I do not have the details on that. I would agree with you that this is a threat that our policymakers need to address and I’m hoping that when we are here next year, you will have a solid response to your question. At this point in time, given the proliferation of issues we are trying to deal with, it is almost overwhelming.
Senator Lankford on Iran: Iran continues to be the foremost state-sponsored terrorism. Whether it is cyber, acts of terrorism, involvement in every different nefarious action, it circles back to Iran… What is your perception of Iran’s goal through the Middle East? Is it more for Yemen or going into Syria and Iraq and to occupy and stay? Is it the perception that Russia wants to stay there or Iran wants to remain the dominant force?
Director Lt. General Vincent Stewart: Iran fused themselves as the dominant regional power. They view themselves as the dominant regional power and they will aim to control large parts of the region. If they cannot control them physically, they tend to influence them politically. Syria becomes a strategic point for them and allows them to leverage the Syrian forces, the Lebanese, Hezbollah, and move capability across the region. They will be in competition at some point with Russia. Russia views itself as a regional power, at least the dominant regional power today. I’m not sure Russia and Iran’s influence will remain aligned in the long-term. In the near term, they are closely aligned when it comes to securing the Syrian regime.