Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates testified publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday and cautioned that the United States is under attack.
In his opening statement, Coates gave a report about the threats facing the country.
“We face a complex volatile and challenging threat environment,” he said. “The risk of interstate conflict is higher than anytime since the end of the Cold War, all the more alarming because of the growing development in use of weapons of mass destruction by state and non-state actors. Our adversaries as well as the other maligned actors are using cyber and other instruments of power to shape societies and markets, international rules and institutions, and international hot spots to their advantage.”
He explained that the U.S. is now entering a period in which technology is essential and technological superiority should be a priority for the defense of the country.
“Against our adversaries who seek to sow division in the United States and weaken U.S. leadership, and non-state actors, including terrorists and criminal groups, are exploiting weak state capacity in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, causing instability and violence both within states and among states,” he said.
Turning to global threats, he immediately brought up the cyber war against Russia.
“The cyberthreat, which is one of my greatest concerns and top priorities,” Coats began. “Frankly, the United States is under attack. Under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States, from U.S. businesses to the federal government to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyberattacks every day. While Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest cyberthreats, other nation states, terrorist organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and ever more technically capable groups and individuals use cyber-operations to achieve strategic and malign objectives.”
He said that some of the actors “including Russia, are likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.” Coates warned that these cyber-operations “will continue against the United States and our European allies, using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sew discord and undermine our values.”
He went on to say that they expect “Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means to influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and as bait social and political fissures in the United States.”
Watch a portion of the opening statement below: