February 2nd, 2010
04:35 PM ET
8 years ago

Intelligence chiefs: U.S. to face terror attack attempts

Washington (CNN) - Another attempted terrorist attack on the United States in coming months is "certain," the heads of the major U.S intelligence agencies told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Al Qaeda remains the top security threat to the United States, but a growing cybersecurity threat also must be addressed by the U.S. intelligence community, the heads of the CIA, the FBI and other agencies told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Asked by committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein of the likelihood of another attempted terror attack on the United States in the next three to six months, the officials agreed with Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's initial answer of "certain."

While none of the intelligence chiefs, who included CIA Director Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller and others, cited a specific pending threat, their testimony made clear that an evolving al Qaeda remains their top concern.

"My greatest concern, and what keeps me awake at night, is that al Qaeda and its terrorist allies and affiliates could very well attack the United States," Panetta said. Al Qaeda is adapting methods to make their plots more difficult to detect, shifting from large attacks with multiple players to using individuals without any background in terrorism, Panetta said.

He noted the failed Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner as an example, saying the suspect had a U.S. visa but little history of involvement with terrorist groups.

"Obviously, they decided to make use of someone like that within a very short period of time" of the suspect coming into contact with al Qaeda, Panetta said.

Filed under: Terrorism
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. D.U.T.C.H.

    In order to win wars, you must outmatch the prevailing technology. we obviously have the prevailing technology and what these intelligence agencies need to focis on is how will these terrorists try to get around the measures in place to deter them.

    February 2, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Fooled Again

    I thought they said that if we wnent into Iraq and Afghanistan we would be safer?

    "We need to fight them over there, instead of over here", they said.

    I think they attack us because we are over there.

    February 2, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Clinton Voter


    If the definition of 'terrorism' is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce for political purposes, who are the real terrorists in this case? Who else here prefers to not live in constant fear of a terror attack?

    February 2, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Wanda in Montana

    Fraidy cats and chicken hawks!

    More people die of heart attacks from eating deep fat fried fast food than terrorists yet you don't see anybody turning yellow and running from Ronald MacDonald.

    If we'd just get over hiding under the bed every time these goat herders say "Boo!" we'd win this stupid "war on terror" so thoroughly hyped by the party of fearmongering no sayers.

    February 2, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Jimmy James

    If they do dare attack us we will have defense lawyers lined up to defend them on our dime.

    February 2, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    I think there is a mistake – Obama said once he was president, his Change would make the World love us. He had a Change and would end wars.

    Change = same 'ol same 'ol

    February 2, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We've been expecting an attack since the first. Inevitable and sad. Let's hope this one can be averted.

    Meanwhile...As a former New Yorker I have to ask when did New Yorkers lose their world-renowned COJONES and become such chickenshits over the trial of mass murderers? Just asking. I would think we'd be chomping at the bit at obtaining some form of retribution in the shape of a legal trial, at ground zero, and the stiffest sentencing our justice system could allow. But that's just my take.

    February 2, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Obama Victim

    Obama is in charge..........anyone feel safe??

    February 2, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Aunt Bea and Opie

    We need to watch the rightwing nuts like Timmy McVeigh and some of the radical postors on this blog who are losing their minds.That guy in Austin comes to mind that uses a number of names to spew his daily hatred.

    February 2, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We've been expecting another attack since the first.

    As a former New Yorker I have to ask when did New Yorkers lose their world-renowned COJONES and become such chickenturds over the trial of mass murderers? Just asking. I would think we'd be chomping at the bit at obtaining some form of retribution in the shape of a legal trial, at ground zero, and the stiffest sentencing our justice system could allow. But that's just my take

    February 2, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Mrs. S Callahan

    Did the illuminant have ANOTHER meeting...come on...don't you have enough money yet!

    February 2, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Dar

    The December attempt awoke a lot of people in the Home land protection division. I beleive like all people do, they got lazy and went on cruise control and this was a big wake up call.
    IM glad they woke up and are now doing their jobs.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    February 2, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Meanwhile Al Qaeda's domestic counterpart, the RethugliKlans, have been doing an outstanding job of terrorizing the American populace with fear, misinformation, and just generally blocking anything that might get the country out of it's dire straits.

    We're so concerned about the enemy outside our borders, that we fail to notice that the enemy within is diligently and steadily causing more damage than Al Qaeda could ever hope to inflict upon us.

    February 2, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Orange Curtain, CA

    Republicans have nothing of any value to offer America. So they keep trying to live in the past and keep people afraid.

    February 2, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    At least the Obama Administration is paying attention to the intelligence and heading the warning signs – unlike GW Bush & Company who ignored the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled, "Al Qaeda Determined to Attack the U.S. Using Airplanes."

    And in answer to "Obama Victim" – yes, I do feel safe with President Obama in the White House. He, at least, isn't looking for a country to attack to enrich his oil buddies.

    February 2, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Yes we will have attempts and attacks on the US. While attempts had been made in the 80's and 90's we pretty much kept them under control. Bush opening Pandora's box, having no plan, and leaving Afganistain without any exit strategy put us where we are today. He left the US weaker politically, socially, and economically. Had he not used us the surplus and created a huge deficiet the US would not be vulnerable economically or militarily. Should America survive then history will show Bush (assuming out of ignorance) Cheney (pure evil) to have placed America on her worst footing ever.

    February 2, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Scott, Tucson

    I'm more concern about obama leading this nation into ruin than I am about a probable terrorist attack. If that threat is so high than why not place a travel ban on any and all incoming Muslims. Better yet, just have our overseas embassies cease issuing visas to nationals of terrorist supporting countries which pretty much involves the entire Muslim nations. Sadly though the political correct left wing nuts here would howl their heads off over that ideal.

    February 2, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. Hammerer

    Do you feel safe and secure?
    Janet said that our system worked.
    Obama has spun his magic speeches to the Muslim world and bowed to their leaders.
    Holder is providing citizen privileges to captured terrorist.
    The administration has tied the intelligence dept's hands behind their back and threatened legal action if they offend anyone.
    What more can we do? Surrender?

    February 2, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    It will snow in Las Vegas... It will snow in Florida...
    The sun will rise every day... People die of old age.

    Anything else absolutely OBVIOUS?

    February 2, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. 8 Years of the Bush Error = Recession and Record Unemployment for ? Years.

    At least Congress is getting to question them about readiness.

    Much better than putting a daily brief on the shrub's desk titled "Al Queada set to attack US" a month before the attack, only to have the chump in chief ignore it because he was on a month long vacation.

    Doing what? Cutting back shrubs.

    February 2, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. Mickey

    We are already being attacked from within by the domestic terrorist group called the Republican Party/GOP.

    The GOP did NOTHING to keep us safe before, on, or after 9/11/01 and they continue to obstruct any and all attempts to get this country back on track... they are the real terrorists.

    Maybe Boehnor and Cantor should schedule a reading of "My Pet Goat"...

    February 2, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  22. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    I am sure with traitors like Dick Cheney highlighting publicly any perceived "weakness".

    Why don't you Reds just roll out the red carpet for your budding the Taliban?

    February 2, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Sam Sixpack

    When we catch them, will we send them to Chicago? New York doesn't want them after all.

    February 2, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Ralph

    We should have been expecting attacks even prior to 9/11. We do not live in a vacuum. At least this administration is keeping watch.

    February 2, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. Stop the Nonsense

    Is there anybody out there that thinks we won't be attacked again? Is there anyone out there that does not think someone will be successful?
    I cannot believe this is actual news.
    Headline: the sun will shine eventually, despite whatever weather you are experiencing.

    February 2, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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