The United States' spy network has lost its "global reach," its ability to monitor, gather and analyze developments around the world, according to two top officials from Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Their testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday revealed that the current policy of focusing on a few hot-button issues leaves the U.S. intelligence network unprepared to monitor other areas that might emerge as crises on the horizon.
In her testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mary Margaret Graham, the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection, said that the U.S. intelligence apparatus does not enjoy the same "global reach" as it had in the past.
"It is because of the period of time we are in, the post-9/11 world, the demands on the intelligence community that exist today have grown exponentially," she explained.
Her comments were quickly seconded by the U.S.'s top intelligence analyst, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar. "It's very much the same situation with respect to analysts," he said.
"The kinds of problems on which our expertise is sought require deep knowledge. And we need to be both global in coverage and to have real fire extinguisher depth on subjects," he added.
Fingar pointed to inadequate staffing and a focus on major hot spots as causes for the strain on the intelligence community.
"We are coming off a period of downsizing and also shifting resources to higher priorities that has left many gaps" in intelligence, he said.
Graham, a 27-year veteran of the CIA before assuming her post at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, offered a way forward until the U.S. is able to achieve a desired level of global reach.
"Our challenge is, until we reach that point...of getting back to a place where we can do global reach and pay attention to places that we are not perhaps, high on the list today...we have got to be able to have processes in place that allow us to lift and shift our resources when we need to," she said.
"Speaking for myself, I don't see any other answer until we are able to satisfactorily have the global reach that we want," she added.