US faces unprecedented foreign threats, counterintelligence nominee says

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The Biden administration’s pick to lead counterintelligence efforts said the US faces “unprecedented threats” from China, Russia and other foreign actors as well as from for-profit hackers.

Michael Casey, the nominee to lead the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “a broad array of other hostile actors” emerged along with Russia and other foreign spy services. He cited China’s efforts to steal US intellectual property, as well as North Korea’s efforts to “become a center of hacking for profit and the work of non-government groups.”

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Casey appeared alongside US Air Force Lieutenant General Timothy Haugh, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the National Security Agency. Haugh called a warrantless surveillance program, known as Section 702, “absolutely essential to US national security.”

Section 702 has long been opposed by privacy advocates because it sweeps up Americans’ messages alongside those of foreign targets. The US intelligence community last year revealed the FBI turned to the communications trove to make searches about Americans as many as 3.4 million times in 2021, up from 1.3 million in 2020.

Haugh currently serves as the deputy commander of US Cyber Command. The NSA director serves concurrently as the head of Cyber Command. If confirmed, Haugh will replace Gen. Paul Nakasone, who has led both NSA and Cyber Command since 2018.

Read more: Russia’s fighter jets fly ‘dangerously close’ to US drones in Syria again: Air Force

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