House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., declared diversity the greatest national strength of the U.S. on Thursday and lamented that the intelligence community (IC) often brought White males to testify before his committee.
“I remain concerned about inadequate progress in recruiting and retaining individuals of diverse backgrounds in the core IC collection and analysis missions,” he said during a hearing on diversity.
“For instance, I can’t help but notice that the majority of IC briefers, though uniformly excellent, who appear before the committee are often White and male.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., during a hearing on Nov. 21, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Pool Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
His comments came amid an uproar over the influence of diversity training on the military and IC. Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., worried in his opening statement that diversity efforts might distract from critical functions of the IC.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., outside the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 20, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Schiff, meanwhile, argued that diversity was important for addressing evolving national security challenges.
“Put simply, our diversity is our greatest national strength. And it is a strength we need to leverage in support of the mission of the [IC],” he said.
“For too long, the IC workforce has not reflected the diverse talents and backgrounds found across the country. And without top-caliber officers drawn from all cultures, all communities, and all backgrounds, we risk undermining the capacity of the IC to keep pace with the evolving national security challenges the United States will face in coming years.”
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the committee that there was no tension between diversity and mission success.
“I think there is no tension, and in fact, I think they are mutually supporting of each other,” she said. Haines added that she didn’t think the IC could get to either diversity or mission success “without the other.”