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Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

As the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and America’s top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey fielded budget questions on Capitol Hill Thursday, the Pentagon’s key intelligence officials were warning of 'current and future worldwide threats' to US national security in another less-attended hearing. Here are three top surprises that they acknowledged to lawmakers.

By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer

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From left, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess take their seats on Capitol Hill in Washingtonlast month prior to testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File

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1. 'Radical' elements in US forces

Senior US military and intelligence officials are warning of their growing concern that rogue “radical” elements are operating – or preparing to operate – "within the ranks” of the intelligence community and armed forces.

“The potential for trusted US government and contractor insiders using their authorized access to personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks or information systems in order to cause great harm is becoming an increasingly serious threat to our national security,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Trusted insiders now have unprecedented access to US government information and resources in secure work environments,” he added.

He warned of those who have become “self-radicalized,” as well as “lone wolves,” particularly “within our ranks.”

As a result, the DIA and other Pentagon offices are developing an “insider threat” document, designed to identify perils from within. Burgess pointed to the “recent massive WikiLeaks disclosure,” which, he charged, “compromises our national security and also endangers lives.”

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