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Spy Chief Warns US Vulnerable in Next President's First Year

By VOA News

31 October 2008

The top U.S. intelligence official is warning the country will be especially vulnerable to security threats during the first months of a new presidency.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell delivered a speech Thursday in the southeastern city of Nashville, Tennessee highlighting security threats and challenges the country will likely face in the next two decades. McConnell said there is always a surprise soon after a U.S. president takes office. He cited terrorist attacks during the first year of the Clinton and Bush administrations.

McConnell said conditions are favorable for terrorist groups to grow in number and influence in the Middle East and other areas well into 2025. He said advances in science and technology will give these groups the ability to carry out large-scale biological or radioactive attacks.

The spy chief also warned the United States will face a host of other challenges, including regional conflicts around the world and a shift of economic power from West to East. McConnell said if current trends continue, there will be a massive transfer of wealth and power to China, India and Russia. He said such trends will lead to a diminished U.S. influence.

McConnell also said nearly four dozen nations will face an unprecedented shortage of safe, reliable supplies of water by 2025, due to rapid population growth and climate change. He said this lack of water will create significant tensions for world bodies and larger states.

McConnell said intelligence officers have provided briefings for both Republican candidate John McCain and Democratic nominee Barack Obama during the campaign.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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