Quite a few government officials have had a great deal to say lately about the threat this summer. And here’s another. “Natl. Intel Director Worried About Terror Sleeper Cells in U.S.,” by John Hendren for ABC News:
The nation’s top intelligence official today went further than ever before in outlining what he described as a heightened threat of an al Qaeda attack on American soil.
“Their attempt is to cause mass casualties,” said Adm. Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “Second [priority] is
political and possibly economic disruption.”
Just days ago, a new National Intelligence Estimate found al Qaeda has strengthened its ability to attack the United States. McConnell said al Qaeda is seeking the means to launch chemical, biological and possibly nuclear attacks. But the likeliest threat is harder to detect.
“What we see currently is primarily a focus on explosives — explosives that can generate a large explosion, but they’re put together with commercially available material,” he said.
McConnell says small numbers of al Qaeda operatives are in this country raising
funds. But he said he knows of no al Qaeda cells in the country that are capable of launching a strike at this time.
“I worry that there are sleeper cells in the U.S.,” McConnell said. “I do not
Michael Scheuer, who once ran the CIA’s al Qaeda desk, says the Bush administration is not merely fear mongering.
“The intelligence community is being very frank about what it knows so it doesn’t get Shanghaied or blamed for something that wasn’t its fault, as it did after 9/11,” Scheuer said.
It’s nice of them to be frank, not in order to cover their own hides, but to encourage public vigilance and cooperation (albeit with the possibility of being sued). In any case, public scrutiny of how well the government is doing its job is a right and, indeed, a duty.