"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming our witnesses today and thank them for their many years of service to our nation.
"This hearing comes at a time when our nation's security is being challenged like never before. When you look around the world today--instability and violence raging throughout North Africa and the Middle East, rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and growing cyber threats against our infrastructure--it's hard to take seriously the President's claim that the 'tide of war is receding.'
"I'm greatly concerned that such claims underlie the foundation of this Administration's naïve view of the world. It's driving the Administration's misguided search for a peace dividend that I don't believe exists. It's driving drastic cuts to our military that are undermining readiness and capabilities. And it's driving reductions to our nuclear arsenal at a time when our adversaries are expanding theirs. Further, the cuts associated with sequestration are having a significant impact on the capabilities and global reach of our intelligence community at just the time when they're needed most.
"Director Clapper, when asked about the effects of sequestration on the intelligence community, you stated 'We're cutting real capability and accepting greater risk. For intelligence, this is not quite like shorter hours for public parks or longer lines at the airports. For intelligence, it's insidious. The capability we cut out today you won't know about that, you won't notice it. The public won't notice it. You'll notice it only when we have a failure.'
"And that's exactly what I'm concerned about. Not only will our military be less prepared to deal with growing threats around the world, we'll know less and less about the true nature of these threats as the intelligence community loses capability. We're going down a foolhardy and dangerous path. It's out of touch with reality and it's making Americans less safe.
"I look to our witnesses today to provide us with their candid assessment of the growing threats to our national security. I also look to our witnesses to explain how the current budget cuts will impact their ability to understand and accurately assess these threats, particularly in places like Africa that already suffer from a lack of resources.
"What this all comes down to is risk. As the challenges to our security and interests around the world are becoming more dangerous and more complex, we're on track to cut over a trillion dollars from our national security budget. Contrary to the best wishes of some, the risks to our security are growing, not decreasing. We ignore this harsh reality at our own peril.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman."