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U.S. Policy-Makers Must Do More to Protect Intelligence Analysis from Political Suppression

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Rod Schoonover (INR), Peter Kiemel (ODNI) and Jeffrey Ringhausen (ONI) testify on climate and security before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, June 5, 2019

As reported by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, Dr. Rod Schoonover, Senior Analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), former Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the National Intelligence Council, and one of the nation’s foremost experts on the security implications of climate change, has resigned voluntarily in the wake of unprecedented White House suppression of INR’s written intelligence analysis on climate and security, which was intended to be delivered by Dr. Schoonover to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on June 5, 2019. (more…)

U.S. Congressman Introduces Climate Security Intelligence Act

Rain_on_Capitol_HillOn June 5, U.S. Congressman Danny Heck (WA-10) introduced the “Climate Security Intelligence Act,” a bill that would establish a “Climate Security Intelligence Center” within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence so that, in the Congressman’s words, the “intelligence community has a focal point for climate-related information, which will be crucial to our nation’s ability to meet evolving challenges now and in the years ahead.” If enacted, this center would be, in some ways, an intelligence community-wide successor to the CIA’s former Center on Climate Change and National Security, which closed its doors in 2012, allegedly due to climate analysis being integrated into broader CIA intelligence assessments of economic and energy security. Click here to read the full bill.

The Center for Climate and Security Stands Firmly in Support of Intelligence Analysis on Climate Security

C&S LOGOAccording to reports from the Washington Post and the New York Times, the White House recently suppressed a comprehensive intelligence analysis from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), which has recently been made public.The analysis, which was to be delivered as written testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on June 5, was allegedly quashed due to its description of climate science, and the unwillingness of INR to omit large sections of the testimony.

The Center for Climate and Security stands firmly in support of INR and its personnel, and their clear-eyed assessment of the significant security risks of a changing climate, and strongly condemns the attempt by individuals in the White House to prevent this analysis from being published. This analysis is the latest in decades-worth of intelligence analysis on climate change produced across both Republican and Democratic administrations. (more…)

Intelligence Officials Highlight Security Risks of Climate Change in Important House Hearing

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Rod Schoonover, Peter Kiemel and Jeffrey Ringhausen before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, June 5, 2019

By John Conger

On June 5, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on the National Security Implications of Climate Change.  The latest in a series of hearings (HASC, HFAC, HOGR) held this year on climate and security issues, the HPSCI was unique in that it called government witnesses.  Specifically, they included Peter Kiemel from the National Intelligence Council, Rod Schoonover from the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and Jeffrey Ringhausen from the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The stage was set by Chairman Schiff who called climate change the “greatest long-term national security threat to the U.S.” and quoted the most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment published by this Administration’s Director of National Intelligence, which stated: (more…)

Release: 58 Senior Military and National Security Leaders Denounce NSC Climate Panel

CCS_ASP Letter to the PresidentWashington, DC, March 5, 2019 — In an extraordinary letter published today by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and the American Security Project (ASP), a group of 58 senior retired military and national security leaders denounced the National Security Council (NSC) plan to set up an “adversarial” group to undermine the science that informs defense and intelligence threat assessments on climate change. The plan is being driven by vocal climate denier William Happer, who has expertise in neither climate science nor national security. The letter includes former secretaries of defense and state (Hagel and Kerry) former combatant commanders (such as Admiral Locklear and General McChrystal), former intelligence leaders (such as Greg Treverton, past Chair of the National Intelligence Council) and other senior military and national security officials that served in Republican and Democratic administrations stretching back to President Eisenhower. The letter represents an extraordinary rebuke from a very practical community that is normally focused on addressing external threats, not internal politics. This demonstrates how far outside the national security consensus the NSC proposal is. The letter states: (more…)

Release: Planned Executive Order on Climate Security Scrapped, but Assault on Science Agencies and National Security Continues

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Carried by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a team of scientists investigate how a melting Arctic affects the ocean’s chemical and biological makeup – NASA image acquired July 12, 2011

Washington, DC, February 24, 2019 – According to a Washington Post article published today, the planned Executive Order establishing a Presidential Committee on Climate Security, or PCCS, has likely been scrapped – at least in its initial form. This is probably due to the extraordinarily negative public response to the idea following an initial Washington Post article on the PCCS published on February 20 (wherein the Center for Climate and Security strongly criticized the proposed federal advisory committee). However, the National Security Council intends to move forward more quietly and less publicly with an internal, ad hoc group of scientists designed to provide an “adversarial” peer review of recent climate change findings by the federal science agencies, including the National Climate Assessment – a process that seeks to undermine scientific findings, as opposed to evaluate their soundness, and then feed that into national security policy. Presumably due to withering criticism from the security community in the wake of the initial report, recent intelligence agency assessments are exempt from scrutiny under this new working group (Department of Defense reports may be as well, though the Washington Post article does not make that clear).

Given that both the intelligence and defense communities rely on the sound and rigorously peer-reviewed climate change findings of the federal science agencies in order to do their jobs, the continuation of the committee under this new guise continues to present a real risk sound national security judgment. In that context, Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security, former Oceanographer of the Navy, and former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told the Washington Post today:

“I never thought I would live to see the day in the United States where our own White House is attacking the very science agencies that can help the president understand and manage the climate risks to security of today and tomorrow,” said Titley, who sits on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan group focused on climate-related risks. “Such attacks are un-American.”

(more…)

Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Asia Pacific Affirms Climate Change Threat

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Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), describes climate change threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb 12, 2019

By John Conger

During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), affirmed the threat climate change poses to his Area of Responsibility, becoming the 21st senior military official to raise concerns about climate risks during the current Administration (see here for a list from November, and here for statements from Admiral Moran and General Neller in December).

During questioning, Admiral Davidson confirmed that he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment of the climate change threat, as articulated in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment published by the Director for National Intelligence (NOTE: climate change has been identified as a security threat in each of the last ten such assessments). (more…)