- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta considers the global economic crisis to be a major threat to national security, leading the agency to create a daily Economic Intelligence Brief for President Obama.

In his first meeting with reporters, the CIA chief also said that South America - particularly Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela - is facing serious economic hardships that could lead to internal political and economic crises.

He said that it is essential to provide the president with economic briefings that “cover overseas developments, economic, political leadership developments.”

“The intelligence community, with the CIA in the lead, is producing a publication each day focusing on global economic issues,” Mr. Panetta said.

The first economic intelligence brief was issued Wednesday to “key players” in the Obama administration and will continue to be delivered to the president´s office daily.

The global economic crisis has taken center stage in the intelligence community. Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies told Congress that roughly a quarter of the world’s governments have experienced instability owing to the economy.

A recent annual threat assessment produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence suggested that the economic crisis is replacing terrorism as the greater threat.

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