Al-Qaida committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction: US


TIMES of INDIA  Feb 11, 2011, 11.54am IST

WASHINGTON: Pakistan-based al-Qaida’s senior leadership remained committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons, a top Obama administration official said.

In his testimony before the House permanent select committee on intelligence, Michael Leiter, director of National Counter-terrorism Center said, “We assess that al-Qaida’s senior leadership in Pakistan remains committed to obtaining all types of weapons of mass destruction.”

“But thanks to some outstanding and effective offensive action against al-Qaida senior leadership in Pakistan, we also assess that their ability to do so is greatly diminished since 9/11,” Leiter said in response to a question from Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the committee.

“So you would rate their intention as high to try to secure that?” Rogers asked. “Yes” answered Leiter.

“I think the intent remains high, in particular in Pakistan and in Yemen,” Leiter said.

Expressing concern over the current situation in Pakistan, Congressman Ben Chandler said, “Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

“You have got a state in Pakistan which has enormous volatility and nuclear weapons. What can you tell us about the security of the nuclear weapons under the control of the state of Pakistan? Are we in decent shape there? And what needs to be done to make sure that those weapons are secure?” he said.

“I think what I can say in public is that our assessment is that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure. And that’s probably all we should say about that in public,” said James Clapper, director of National Intelligence.

CIA director Leon Panetta said his greatest concern was to avoid another 9/11.

“The reality is that our biggest concern about al-Qaida was that they could conduct 9/11-type attacks in this country. We have focused on that. I think as a result of the work that’s been done at going directly at them in the FATA, I think we’ve seriously undermined their ability to be able to conduct those kinds of attacks,” Panetta said.

“Having said that, they are now resorting to other ways to come at this country. And those ways are through trying to inspire sleepers, to try to go after lone wolves, to use the Inspire magazine, to use Awlaki, who’s basically been urging people to do whatever they can to do something in a terrorist way, someplace, somehow, somewhere,” he said.

That’s the nature of the kind of threats that US was now dealing with, which concerns the entire country. “And it is in that arena where we’ve got the toughest job, because while these are less sophisticated, they’re tougher to find,” he added.

my response:

If DNI Clapper is not willing to elaborate on the security of PAK nuclear weapons in public, what is he willing to say about them behind closed doors? The Obama White House was surprised by the anti-government riots in Iran. Then they were further surprised by the riots in Cairo that overthrew an allied government. Just imagine our surprise when we wake up some morning and see the Taliban in control of Pakistan nukes!

Have we been reduced to just sitting around and guessing at what is going on in the rest of the world? Not only should we know what is going on with our so-called allies, we should be able to state with confidence what we know in a public venue.

There are dangerous people in the world. DNI Clapper needs to understand that the intel business requires Brains and Balls. If you have both, you need to hard-wire them together with a Spine. Top to bottom command structure should be as follows: Brains, Spine, Balls. ANY attempt to operate with less than all three elements is not recommended. BR

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