Fractious politics, high national debt pose security threats, says US intelligence director

US director of national intelligence Dan Coats testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Worldwide Threats on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb 13, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - United States director of national intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate panel on Tuesday (Feb 13) that the country's bitter political wrangling and growing debt posed grave threats to the country's national security.

"I'm concerned that our increasing 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," Mr Coats told the Senate Intelligence Panel, as reported by Reuters.

"The failure to address our long-term fiscal situation has increased the national debt to over US$20 trillion (S$26.4 trillion) and growing. I would urge all of us to address this challenge."

His remarks came at the beginning of the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on worldwide threats to national security.

Mr Coats and other US top intelligence chiefs were united on Tuesday in declaring that Russia is continuing efforts to disrupt the US political system and is targeting the 2018 midterm election, following its successful operation to sow discord in the most recent presidential campaign, New York Times reported.

CNBC reported that the US debt has increased 123 per cent over the past decade and that total debt is nearly 105 per cent of gross domestic product, just below the highest level since World War II.

The most recent Congressional Budget Office projections have the trajectory leading to a debt-to-GDP ratio of 150 per cent by 2047, CNBC said, well past the point where financial crises typically occur.

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