The director of national intelligence acknowledged the damage done to US spy activities by National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden as he introduced a new national intelligence strategy Thursday.
James Clapper pledged greater ethics and transparency under the new strategy, which is designed to drive US intelligence activities over the next four years.
He said there was “a perfect storm” of factors that are degrading the intelligence community’s capabilities: “theft and leak of NSA documents,” the resulting damage to US relationships with other governments, conscious decisions to curb collection capabilities, and budget cuts.
“The result of that perfect storm is that we – as a nation – are taking more risk,” Clapper said.
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, last year fled the United States before disclosing a massive telecommunications and email surveillance programme. He was subsequently charged with espionage and theft of government property.
Snowden applied for asylum in Russia and last month was granted a residency permit.
The new strategy for the intelligence community lays out the current strategic environment and identifies threats. It says that while countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran will continue to challenge US interests, global power is becoming “more diffuse.”
New alignments and informal networks, outside of traditional power blocs, will increasingly have significant impact on global affairs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement.
“I’ve often said publicly that the United States is facing the most diverse set of threats I’ve seen in my 50 years in the intelligence business,” Clapper said. “We face significant changes in the global and domestic environments and must be ready to meet the 21st century challenges and to recognize emerging opportunities.”
The statement says the new strategy for the first time includes the seven principles of professional ethics for the intelligence community: mission, truth, lawfulness, integrity, stewardship, excellence and diversity.
These principles have been a part of the intelligence community for as long as he’s been in it, Clapper said.
“I believe if we keep these in front of us, we can continue the crucial work in support of our senior policy makers while we also increase transparency and protect privacy and civil liberties,” he said.