The new director of national intelligence told Congress on Thursday that global economic turmoil and the instability it could ignite had outpaced terrorism as the most urgent threat facing the United States.
The assessment underscored concern inside America’s intelligence agencies not only about the fallout from the economic crisis around the globe, but also about long-term harm to America’s reputation.
The crisis that began in American markets has already “increased questioning of US stewardship of the global economy,” the intelligence chief, Dennis C. Blair, said.
Blair’s comments were particularly striking because they were delivered as part of a threat assessment to Congress that has customarily focused on issues like terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Blair delivered his assessment to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
‘Qaeda less effective’
Al-Qaeda is “less capable and effective” than it was a year ago after a series of blows that have killed key leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas, he said.