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Monday, February 02, 2009

The CIA's Top Ten

CIA Director: Al Qaeda is Job 1 of Top 10 Security Challenges in 2009

Iran, North Korea and Al Qaeda are still in, but Iraq is out of the list of top 10 national security threats the United States is likely to face in the coming year.

As Leon Panetta faces a Senate confirmation hearing this week to be the next CIA director, outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden says several regions and disputes could create serious headaches for the intelligence community in 2009.

Hayden, a Pittsburgh native, put together his list on the way back from a recent Steelers game. It will not be formally presented to his successor, but it does represent the top issues Hayden anticipates will be faced in 2009.

"This is an informal list that I kind of jotted down, what are the things I would fret about over the next 12 months," he told FOX News in the second of two interviews about the nation's greatest security challenges.

"I don't want to get in the business of suggesting ways to threaten the well-being of the planet, but frankly that is what we are in the business of thinking about every day here with our analytic workforce."

Hayden said top of the list is still Al Qaeda, which has been working on expanding its associations with other groups around the world. Hayden said this development is particularly troubling because groups like Lashkar-i-Tayyiba, which was responsible for the attacks in Mumbai last November, start to think outside their region and focus on the United States and elsewhere.

The full article is here. Definitely worth the read, it includes Hayden's reasons for each pick. Here's a quick look at the Top Ten:

1. Al Qaeda

2. Violence in Mexico

3. Iran's nuclear program

4. Europe and the War on Terror

5. Instability caused by the low price of oil

7. Afghanistan

8. North Korea

9. China

10. The Middle East

No real surprises here, but I'm skeptical that the present Administration is going to really want to address many of them. There have been some positive signs with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, but some scary ones with regard to the Middle East, the War on Terror, and Iran. Unfortunately, if things go wrong, they're going to go very, very wrong.

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