Congress wants Russian “threat center”

Washington, DC. In moves that would make Senator Joseph McCarthy red scare blush, a US member of Congress has decided-thanks to some Ukrainian lobbyist cash, that America needs a whole branch of government completely devoted to “Russian aggression.” Forgetting in the process, there are already 16 Federal Agencies charged with exactly those duties, with a budget of roughly $50 billion dollars a year currently.

US Congressman Joseph Kennedy from Massachusetts proposed the creation of a National Russian Threat Response Center. The relevant bill is published on the congressman’s website and awaiting consideration by other representatives.

“The center will be responsible for synchronizing and analyzing information pertaining to Russia from across the intelligence community, diplomatic channels, and law enforcement agencies,” the document states.

Someone forgot to tell the Congress member that is exactly what the US intelligence community already does; The United States Intelligence Community is a federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and national security of the United States.

Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

The authors of the bill propose that the oversight board of the center be staffed by representatives from the CIA, the Department of State, the Ministry of Defense, the FBI, the US Treasury and other departments. According to the document, the center will operate for 8 years and will be funded in the context of the US Director of National Intelligence’s program.

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations in the United States that are working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, and that the intelligence community as a whole includes 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances. According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the US intelligence community and account for 49% of their personnel budgets.

According to the Boston Herald, the congressman requested $20 million for the creation of the center. “Russia’s attack on our election was not guided by party affiliation but instead by a deep desire to weaken trust in our institutions and shake the very foundation of our democracy,” Kennedy said in Congress, as cited by the Washington Times.

One can only guess the congressman did not know how much is spent yearly on intelligence! The US intelligence budget (excluding the Military Intelligence Program) in fiscal year 2013 was appropriated as $52.7 billion dollars, and reduced by the amount sequestered to $49.0 billion. In fiscal year 2012 it peaked at $53.9 billion, according to a disclosure required under a recent law implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The 2012 figure was up from $53.1 billion in 2010, $49.8 billion in 2009, $47.5 billion in 2008, $43.5 billion in 2007 and $40.9 billion in 2006.

During his speech, he cited information from a Bloomberg report which claims, citing unnamed investigations, that during the US presidential campaign in 2016, Russian hackers targeted the systems of the Election Commission in at least 39 of 50 states.

US authorities have repeatedly accused Russia of organizing hacker attacks on the US Election Commission’s systems. Moscow denies involvement in the cyber-attacks. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that blaming Russia for the Democratic Party’s failure in the US elections is comparable to antisemitism.