The annual worldwide threats hearings take place Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee and Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee, and feature testimony from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier.
In recent weeks, Intelligence Committee leaders have gotten briefed by officials on a multitude of issues, including the spy balloon the United States shot down off the coast of South Carolina and classified documents found at the homes and offices of former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence.
The actions and intentions of the Chinese government are likely to be a central focus when top U.S. intelligence leaders testify on global security threats this week, as questions linger about Beijing’s potential plan to send lethal aid to Russia, its role in obfuscating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aim of its recently discovered surveillance balloon program, which dramatically heightened tensions with the U.S.
The hearings offer a rare opportunity for lawmakers and the public to hear directly from intelligence leaders, whose agencies do not offer regular press briefings and whose activities and budgets are partly or mostly classified.
Leaders’ testimony will coincide with the release of a comprehensive yearly intelligence community report that serves as an unclassified scene-setter for national security priorities. Last year’s assessment – which was released before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine – said “competition and potential conflict between nation-states remains a critical national security threat,” citing increasingly belligerent signals from Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Pyongyang.