By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 17, 2008
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said today, “Now, when the terrorist threat is increasing because they’ve achieved — Al Qaeda’s achieved de facto safe haven in the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan — the threat is going up.”
DNI McConnell appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
When asked by Mr. Wallace to reflect on recent comments by President Bush, DNI McConnell said, “President Bush is repeating advice that I’m giving him. As you know, I am not a political figure. I am a professional. I’ve been doing this for 40 years.”
President Bush had said following recent Congressional action to limit U.S. intelligence evesdropping “The United States is now more in danger of attack.”
Earlier this week House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says, “The president’s comments are wrong, divisive and nothing but fear-mongering.”
Senator Ted Kennedy said, “The DNI’s latest comments show yet again the shamelessness of the administration’s tactics.”
McConnell said the terrorists have, “New information, new personalities, new methods of communicating.”
The DNI said we are in a period of “Increased danger, and it will increase more and more as time goes on. And the key is the — if you think about the private sector global communications, many people think the government operates that.”
The congressional action would limit a governments ability to solicit and obtain communications intercepts and information from what are called “private carriers.” Private carriers are usually telephone companies.
“Ninety-eight percent of it [telephone communications] is owned and operated by the private sector,” said McConnell. “We cannot do this mission without help and support from the private sector. And the private sector, although willingly helped us in the past, are now saying, ‘You can’t protect me. Why should I help you?'”
About the terror threat McConnell said, “We have not located an Al Qaeda cell inside the United States that is directly associated with Al Qaeda.
“There are other groups that we watch closely, but the attempt on the part of Al Qaeda — they have safe haven,” said the DNI. “They have leadership. They have the middle-grade trainers. And they’re recruiting.”
“They have been successful in recruiting any number, and they’ve trained them in Pakistan and then sent them back to their home country,” he said.
“Often, they will try to recruit in a country that does not require a visa to get inside the United States,” McConnell said. “So you can see these are very sophisticated people, and they’re looking for any means to come back into the United States.”
“Casualties greater than 9/11 — that’s their objective,” said the DNI.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, right, looks on as President Bush makes a statement regarding the Protect America Act, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington.
(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)