Policy Brief

An Intelligence Agenda for a New Administration

December 2020

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America’s Intelligence Community (IC) faces a daunting array of traditional national security challenges. Terrorism remains a persistent global problem in form of Islamic extremism as well as far-right nationalism. Russia, China and other nation state threats have become a higher priority after a long period of neglect. Regional conflicts simmer and occasionally boil over, reminding us that our agencies must provide global coverage. And we are now engaged in perpetual cyber conflict, with ambient digital espionage and conflict raging across global networks.

At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that there are other threats to national security which require our intelligence agencies to broaden their focus beyond the familiar threats that have defined their missions since inception. America’s intelligence agencies must be able to support our national response to the existential challenges of our time - pandemic and biothreats, climate change, and nuclear insecurity. Each represents a high probability and high consequence set of risks for the nation and the world.

As a President-Elect Biden’s team prepares to assume power, it should examine:

  • Independence: Has political interference degraded the IC’s capability to collect and protect intelligence, and has the IC’s independence and objectivity eroded? How can we  ensure that political interference never degrades IC capabilities and objectives?
  • Priorities: How well prepared is our Intelligence Community (IC) to play its role of providing warning, perspective and options in a new world of disinformation, pandemic and climate change?
  • Keeping Pace: Has the IC’s ability to provide intelligence needed to keep America safe kept pace with the rapid changes in technology and society?

For the full brief, please download the PDF.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:An Intelligence Agenda for a New Administration.” Policy Brief, December 2020.