(CNSNews.com) – Threats from foreign powers, terrorist groups and transnational gangs rank among the national security threats to the United States, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told Congress on Tuesday.
But he also listed another “dire threat” that Americans could resolve if they mustered the political will.
"I would like to close with discussion of one additional threat, this one internal and somewhat personal,” Coats told Congress as he finished reading his opening statement:
I'm concerned that our increasing(ly) fractious political process, particularly with respect to federal spending, is threatening our ability to properly defend our nation, both in the short term and especially in the long term.
The failure to address our long term fiscal situation has increased the national debt to over $20 trillion and growing. This situation is unsustainable, as I think we all know, and represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen first identified the national debt as the greatest threat to our national security. Since then he has been joined by numerous, respectable national security leaders of both parties, including former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Henry Kissinger as well as former Defense Secretaries Bob Gates and Leon Panetta.
And our current Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agrees with this assessment.
Many of you know, I have spent a lot of time in my last term with the Senate working on this issue, but unfortunately, the problem continues to grow. So I would urge all of us to recognize the need to address this challenge and to take action as soon as possible before a fiscal crisis occurs that truly undermines our ability to ensure our national security.