Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California slammed Democrats and the Intelligence Community on Thursday for engaging in and focusing on partisan actions against U.S. citizens instead of bigger threats around the world.
“We have to see the world the way it is, not the way we want it to be or what is convenient for perverted political narratives,” Nunes said during the House Intelligence Committee’s annual public World Wide Threats Hearing. “The intelligence community has a crucial task of defending our national security from foreign threats, but the increasing politicization of this apparatus risks becoming a threat to our national security in and of itself.”
In the press release announcing the hearing, Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff claimed the Trump administration “discarded the tradition of open hearings on World Wide Threats, when it displeased the former president to have his preferred views of rival nations contradicted by agency heads.” Nunes, however, said this characterization is not only false but purposefully misleading.
“The real reason Trump officials didn’t want to participate is that, for years, the committee’s Democrats hijacked our open hearings to advance conspiracy theories on the Trump administration being filled with Russian agents who colluded with Putin in the 2016 election, among many other issues,” Nunes explained.
This hijacking for political gain, the Republican said, continues as Democrats engage in the “weaponization of intelligence community against so-called domestic extremists” and undermines the committee’s purpose.
“Democrats see political benefits in characterizing wide swaths of American citizens, particularly Republicans and conservatives, as politically suspect, politically violent, and deserving of government surveillance,” Nunes explained. “However, I remind those assembled here today that our intelligence community exists solely to counteract foreign threats. History shows that major abuses occur when our intelligence capabilities are turned inward to spy on our own citizens, from the FBI spying on Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and ’60s to its surveillance of Republican Party members in 2016. This is a red line that simply cannot be crossed. In fact, this committee was created in large part to ensure that that line should not be crossed.”
Nunes also said it is “concerning” and “worrying” that the director of national intelligence is heading up a report on domestic violent extremism and that the National Counterterrorism Center is “focused on U.S.-based individuals with no foreign influence or connection.”
“At a time when the Intelligence Committee directors appear reluctant to even name Islamic extremists as a terrorism threat and when they spend so much time virtue signaling on Democrat priorities such as global warming, I’m concerned about specific sets of issues that include terrorist networks are continuing to spread. International drug cartels and human traffickers are crossing our borders as we speak,” Nunes explained. “Foreign cybercriminals are penetrating our digital infrastructure, and we still can’t get answers about the true origins of the coronavirus in China.”
Shifting focus away from real threats, Nunes warned, is not only partisan but dangerous for the nation.
“When our nation’s leaders don’t pay proper attention to these issues and instead focus on targeting their political opponents, real threats to American national security do not evaporate,” Nunes concluded. “To the contrary, our enemies who pay close attention to our domestic political affairs become emboldened, and we end up with dangerous developments among rogue states.”