Worldwide Threat Assessment: America’s Annual Exercise in Fear-Mongering

Worldwide Threat Assessment: America’s Annual Exercise in Fear-Mongering
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on global threats, Washington, Feb. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Bill Clark).

On Feb. 7, much of America tuned in to watch the national sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl. Two days later, the country was treated to a different kind of annual ritual, what can be thought of as the Super Bowl of threat-mongering.

Every year, in January or February, the nation’s top intelligence officials venture to Capitol Hill to brief Congress on the intelligence community’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. And while the Super Bowl is a parade of expensive commercials, over-the-top musical performances and occasionally riveting football, the worldwide threat assessment is a procession of hyped-up threats, scary terrorists and, in the words of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a “litany of doom.”

This year, the focus was on “unpredictable instability,” which according to Clapper is the “new normal.”

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