U.S. Intelligence Agency Heads Testify on Worldwide Threats - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

U.S. Intelligence Agency Heads Testify on Worldwide Threats

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A new U.S. intelligence report predicts Russia will meddle in this year's midterm elections as it pursues bolder cyber operations and false information campaigns against America and its allies.

The global threats report issued Tuesday also says the risk of conflict with North Korea is higher today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. So, too, is the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia that's destabilizing the Middle East.

Cyberattacks are on the rise.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats tells The Associated Press they're coming from governments, militant groups, criminal organizations and people with the technical know-how to breach U.S. agencies, intelligence bodies and the military. He says Washington must better craft responses to minimize these attacks.

Three of the nation's top intelligence officials say the U.S. has seen Russian activity aimed at meddling in the upcoming midterm elections.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Moscow's intention is to have an impact on the next election cycle.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, agreed.

They didn't describe the activity, other than to say it was related to information warfare.

They told members of the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday that they would provide more details in closed session.

The intelligence officials say the information will be shared with state and local governments and state election officials and that the U.S. has to come up with ways to punish and prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

In prepared remarks, Sen. Mark Warner says "certain questions remain with respect to the true extent of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and we'll work through those as our investigation continues."

He says despite those questions, there is " broad bipartisan consensus" in the Committee on the fact that Russia did engage in a "coordinated attack to undermine our democracy" that targeted state and local election systems and that Russia utilized social media to push and spread disinformation "at an unprecedented scale."

"We've had more than a year to get our act together and address the threat posed by Russia and implement a strategy to deter future attacks.  But we still do not have a plan," Warner says in his remarks. 

He added, "What we are seeing is a continuous assault by Russia to target and undermine our democratic institutions, and they are going to keep coming at us", and points to China as being a potential country that is looking to gain access to "sensitive technologies and intellectual property."

Meanwhile, Coats said that North Korea continues to pose more than ever as an "increasing threat to the U.S." He said that the regime has stated it does not "intend to negotiate nuclear weapons away" which they deem critical to its security. Coats said that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sees nuclear ICBM's as leverage to end the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. in its efforts to "dominate the peninsula." 

He said that the nation can expect to see North Korea press ahead with additional nuclear tests, including an atmospheric nuclear test over the pacific. 

Pompeo echoed Coats' assessment of Kim, saying he continues to remain intent on staying power. He said that U.S. intelligence officials see that as the North Koreans ratchet up their nuclear capability it makes a response much more difficult and North Korea's capacity to do harm in the region also increases. 

Pompeo also addressed the Winter Olympic Games which has been a moment for diplomacy between the North and South. He said that Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong, who led the regime's delegation to the Olympics, is the "head of propaganda and agitation department" and there has been "no indication" of a strategic shift for the North Koreans and its nuclear containment. 

He said that those around Kim "aren't suggesting to him the tenuous nature of his position" as leader of the regime and the consequences of his actions in the peninsula.  

(The Associated Press, CBS News contributed to this report.)

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