Speeches and Statements

COMMITTEE STATEMENT: House Armed Services Committee, “The State of the World: National Security Threats and Challenges”

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Washington, February 1, 2017 | comments


General David H. Petraeus, USA, Ret.

Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Former Commander of U.S. Central Command


Mr. John E. McLaughlin

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Former Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency



General Petraeus and Mr. McLaughlin:  thank you for your service to this country, and for appearing today.  I have three quick questions, and apologize if some version of them has already been asked.


First, General Petraeus, you state in your written testimony that Islamic extremists want to portray the current conflict as a clash of civilizations, with America at war against Islam.  You warn that we must be careful not to take actions that might feed into this narrative.  Both you and Mr. McLaughlin led the CIA.  At core, the role of the CIA is to collect intelligence from a variety of sources and to disseminate that intelligence to policymakers to inform their decision-making.  Having foreign nationals in other countries willing to give us information is critical to this effort.  At the unclassified level, can you talk generally about how U.S. government actions—if they are not carefully considered and rooted in basic principles of justice—might compromise the CIA’s ability to recruit human sources to provide us with intelligence about our adversaries or potential adversaries?   


Second, both of your written statements discuss in depth what General Dunford has called the “four plus one” challenge of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremism.”  I would like to hear about other countries that you believe U.S. policymakers should have on their radars.  Mr. McLaughlin:  for example, you cite Venezuela, calling it “the Latin American country closest to economic and political meltdown.”  The humanitarian situation in that country is appalling.  Can you elaborate on the situation in Venezuela, and the potential implications for U.S. national security interests?


Third, I recently read an article about an Associated Press examination into the effectiveness of a Department of Defense program, run out of U.S. Central Command, to counter the online propaganda of ISIL.  The investigation raised questions about whether DoD employees and contractors are sufficiently skilled in Arabic and adequately knowledgeable about Islam to serve as an effective counterweight to online recruiters seeking to radicalize young men and women throughout the Arab and Muslim world.  General Petraeus, as the former Centcom commander, can you speak to this problem and what can be done to address it?

To view the PDF version, click here

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