DNI silent after James Fanell details 40-year U.S. intelligence failure on China

FPI / July 3, 2024


For the better part of four decades, U.S. intelligence agencies failed to address the emerging threat from communist China and, now, the U.S. is “not prepared intellectually, ideologically, organizationally, nor militarily” to confront that threat, (Ret.) Navy Capt. James Fanell said in congressional testimony on June 26.

(Ret.) Navy Capt. James Fanell told the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on June 26: ‘For a generation, the [intelligence community] failed national security decision-makers, and the American people, regarding the growth of China’s capabilities and intentions.’ / X
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) employed strategic deception and political warfare to fool both intelligence officials and executive branch policymakers into falsely assuming China posed no threat, Fanell said.

“Over the course of decades, [China] effectively misled our executive branch to ignore the PRC as a rising existential threat,” Fanell, former director of intelligence and information operations for the Pacific Fleet, told the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

“In particular, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community were deceived by the CCP’s skillful use of elite capture, deception, disinformation and propaganda programs.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Fanell’s testimony, security correspondent Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Times.

Fanell said that he was pushed out of the Navy 10 years ago after giving a speech approved by his superiors that warned of China’s growing military capabilities in preparation for what he called a “short, sharp war” with the United States. He claimed that a civilian Pentagon official told him after the remarks that he was prohibited from making any similar speeches.

“I had contradicted the unwritten policy of ‘not provoking’ the PRC. Within a few months I was fired,” he said. “Now our nation faces a herculean task of confronting and defeating communist China’s existential threat.”

As a result of the intelligence failures, U.S. leaders unilaterally disarmed psychologically, intellectually, and militarily, despite what Fanell said was evidence that China viewed the United States as its main enemy.

“Even worse, our leaders help fund and otherwise enable China’s military, economic and technological advances needed to destroy our military forces in the field and destroy our society and economy,” Fanell said.

Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, said the American people are aware that China poses the greatest foreign threat to the U.S. way of life.

Too few federal agencies, however, understand that Beijing is waging “an aggressive campaign of political warfare — a strategy to weaken our nation without firing a shot,” Comer said.

Fanell told the committee that U.S. intelligence agencies engaged in what he called “threat deflation” in seeking to play down or ignore troubling strategic developments coming out of China.

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