After the Trump administration reduced the bloat of the National Security Council – and subsequently got hit with a global coronavirus pandemic – there is talk of a re-expansion and refocus under a potential Joe Biden administration, sources told The Wall Street Journal.
“We are looking at whether our intelligence resources are appropriately focused on something that’s very important,” a Biden senior foreign-policy adviser told the Journal.
Preparing for biological outbreaks and climate change will become higher priorities for intelligence services, per the report.
“The first step is for the intelligence agencies and Defense Department to accept that this is part of their core national-security mission,” Ebola outbreak coordinator Andrew Weber told the Journal. “Right now, they are ambivalent.”
Officials told the Journal there were breakdowns in determining the level of threat of the pandemic before it reached our shores. And a Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee report in September found intelligence did not put enough emphasis on it and called for a review of the $85 billion intelligence budget.
“There was no assessment within the intelligence community that this was going to be a terrible pandemic,” a senior official told the Journal of last January’s intelligence.
Instead, intelligence tends to focus on terrorism, weapons, and military enemies – most notably China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
“If those are one, two, three, four, this is 372” on the list of priorities, the official told the Journal about pandemic threats. “It’s that far away.”
The Trump administration did plan a National Biodefense Strategy which included a Cabinet-level Biodefense Steering Committee led by HHS, per the Journal, but it never materialize and then the pandemic hit and the White House coronavirus task force was formed.
Biden vowed to bring the directorate for global health and biodefense back to the NSC with “a full-time, dedicated coordinator,” per the report.
“There should be more resources,” former National Center for Medical Intelligence official Denis Kaufman told the Journal, noting, if left to choose between Russian hypersonic weapons intelligence or a virology lab in China, “guess which one they’re going after?”
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