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Senate committee passes intelligence bill with eye on security against China, AI

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The Intelligence Authorization Act authorizes funding, provides legal authorities and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

The Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (IAA) last week by a unanimous 17 to 0 vote.

“The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 reflects the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan commitment to ensuring America’s intelligence agencies have the resources they need to protect our country,” Committee Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia said. “This year’s bill increases the IC’s ability to track threats posed by adversarial nations, including technological and economic competition with China. It also promotes a reform of the nation’s security classification system, strengthens the security of our election systems, and furthers the Committee’s efforts to reform the security clearance process, so that the IC can attract and expeditiously on-board a talented, diverse, and trusted workforce to meet the emerging challenges we face.”

The IAA for Fiscal Year 2024 authorizes funding for the IC and ensures that it has the resources, personnel and authorities it needs to protect the nation. The bill’s provisions include:
• Increases oversight of the national security threats posed by the People’s Republic of China, including its predatory economic practices, political influence operations, military capabilities, and investments in, and attempts to dominate the supply chains of artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation energy technologies and biotechnology, among many others.
• Establishes a new IC atrocities coordinator to increase collection, analysis and intelligence support to government-wide efforts to hold China accountable for its egregious human rights abuses.
• Promotes reform of the nation’s security classification system, including by reducing overclassification; establishing a new system of interagency governance and accountability; preventing mishandling of classified information; and promoting better use of technology to facilitate declassification and enhance public trust.
• Strengthens the security of America’s voting systems by requiring that they undergo simulated attacks as part of their standard certification process, allowing for the discovery of potential vulnerabilities before these can be exploited by adversaries.
• Requires the IC to conduct a “lessons-learned” assessment of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine and the long-term implications for United States national security and the NATO alliance.
• Improves the IC’s procurement, adoption, and integration of emerging technologies by requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to establish policies for the IC’s acquisition, adoption, development and use of AI.
• Protects against foreign counterintelligence risks at Department of Energy National Labs.
• Enhances insight into the Venezuela Maduro regime’s imprisonment of United States persons.
• Ensures the IC has a workforce that is second-to-none, by instituting improved IC workforce recruitment through education-based assistance; improving workforce mobility among IC agencies to meet national security needs; increasing recruitment priorities for candidates with financial intelligence and technical expertise; and requiring a standard procedure for investigating CIA sexual misconduct complaints, among other measures.
• Increases transparency by strengthening Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) funding and reporting requirements.
• Builds upon the Committee’s work in reforming the nation’s outdated security clearance system by requiring the codification of new timeliness standards for processing personnel vetting determinations.
• Prohibits the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis from collecting information or intelligence on U.S. persons.
• Maintains strong congressional oversight of and protections for whistleblowers who come forward to report fraud, waste, or abuse.
• Ensures continued support to the victims of anomalous health incidents (AHIs or “Havana Syndrome”) by improving the CIA’s funding flexibility for payments to qualified victims; and requiring each IC element to issue regulations and procedures for implementing HAVANA Act of 2021 authorities.

“The United States is in a moment of great power conflict where our adversaries — namely China and Russia — are colluding to destroy the international ruled-based system while undermining the United States and our alliances,” Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said. “The Intelligence Community (IC) must rapidly adapt and work aggressively to position the United States to focus on and counter the unprecedented global threats we face. This year’s IAA begins to equip the IC with the tools needed to enhance intelligence collection and improve objective intelligence analysis. Importantly, the committee-passed IAA also includes a prohibition DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis from collecting information on U.S Persons. This IAA further enables the IC to provide support to policymakers to make the right decisions that protect our national security, promote economic prosperity for all Americans, and uphold our values.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.