Report Confirms Continuing Threat from Al-Qaida
NOAH ADAMS, host.
From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Noah Adams.
DEBORAH AMOS, host:
And I'm Deborah Amos.
Coming up, with a U.S. pullback looking more likely, the big questions are when and what happens to Iraqis who helped the U.S.?
ADAMS: But first, the Bush administration has released key findings of a new national intelligence report. It warns of al-Qaida's ongoing efforts to strike at the U.S., other targets around the world, including targets in Iraq.
NPR's Don Gonyea has the report.
DON GONYEA: Administration officials say the National Intelligence Estimate, also called an NIE, lays out just how much of a threat al-Qaida remains almost six years after the attacks of 9/11. Frances Townsend is the top White House advisor to the president on homeland security issues. She spoke to reporters this morning, stating that al-Qaida will continue to attempt visually dramatic mass casualty attacks on the U.S. The NIE also predicts that by working with regional groups, al-Qaida will enhance its capabilities.
Ms. FRANCES TOWNSEND (Homeland Security Advisor): Of most concern is that al-Qaida will try to exploit the conflict in Iraq and leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq, it's most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed the desire to attack the homeland.
GONYEA: Townsend denies that it is the war in Iraq that has led to the strengthening of terror groups, such as al-Qaida. And she insists that even with al-Qaida's resurgence, the group is not as strong as it would have been had the U.S. not confronted terror threats aggressively since 9/11. As for the timing of the report, the White House says it's been in the works for years and insists it was not time to counter the Iraq debate this week on Capitol Hill.
Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.
ADAMS: And later in the program, we'll talk to a former CIA counterterrorism chief about the NIE and its implications.