CIA chief: New terrorists imperil U.S.
Spread of anti-American militancy is a threat, Tenet says, despite successes against al-Qaida.
The New York Times
February 25, 2004
WASHINGTON -- CIA Director George Tenet said Tuesday that the world is at least as "fraught with dangers for American interests" as it was a year ago, despite the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and successes in dismantling the leadership of al-Qaida.
Most worrisome, Tenet said, is that the radical anti-American sentiments and destructive expertise employed by al-Qaida have spread to other Sunni Muslim extremists who are behind a "next wave" of terrorism that will endure "for the foreseeable future with or without al-Qaida in the picture."
"People who say that this is exaggerated don't look at the same world that I look at," Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee as he presented a stark annual report on the global threats facing the United States. The broader terrorist threat, he said, "is not going away anytime soon."
In his State of the Union address last month, President Bush described the world as being "a better and safer place" since U.S. forces overthrew Hussein last year.
On Tuesday, Tenet acknowledged progress in Iraq but also noted that the post-invasion violence there continues, with attacks against American forces at a level similar to that of last August.
Tenet's public appearance before Congress was his first since last March, and it exposed him to sharp questions from senators about the gap between prewar intelligence about Iraq's illicit weapons and the fact that no such weapons have been found.
Tenet sought to deflect such queries, saying it was too soon to draw conclusions, but he promised to disclose the truth about any intelligence mistakes.
Appearing with Tenet were FBI Director Robert Mueller and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, who presented a similar picture.
Despite the killing or capture of many senior al-Qaida leaders, they said, the terrorist group still enjoys considerable support, has enlisted new recruits, and has authored a series of "chilling plots," including signs of possible poison attacks, the training of pilots for suicide missions, and strong indications it is targeting the White House, the Capitol and the U.S. transportation system.
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