December 1st, 2013
09:20 AM ET
11 months ago

Terrorists are gaining ground, intelligence committee heads say

Washington (CNN) - The leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees said Sunday that terrorists have gained ground in the past two years and that the United States is not any safer than it was at the outset of 2011.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, agreed that despite the death of Osama bin Laden and drone strikes aimed at decimating al Qaeda's leadership, President Barack Obama's administration has lost ground in the ongoing battle with global terrorism.


"Are we safer now than we were a year ago, two years ago?" host Candy Crowley asked Feinstein on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I don't think so," the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman replied.

"I absolutely agree that we're not safer today," Rogers added.

Rogers warned that the Obama administration's successes against high-value targets have fostered a false sense of security.

"People think that, well, we've got this thing beat," Rogers said. "And that's just not the case."

In the wide-ranging joint interview with Crowley, Feinstein and Rogers detailed an international climate growing more hostile toward the United States.

Feinstein said increasingly fundamentalist Islamist groups are gaining power and winning the minds of the disenfranchised in the Middle East and Near Asia.

"I see more groups; more fundamentalist, more jihadist, more determined to kill to get to where they want to get," Feinstein said.

As evidence the U.S. is in greater danger, the California lawmaker cited a rise in fatalities from terrorist-related activities and increasingly specialized and dangerous technology available to terrorists. Feinstein specifically highlighted bombs as a growing threat to American security - and not the kind of improvised devices that plagued U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, or rudimentary explosives like the pressure-cooker bomb used by the Boston marathon bombers. She said terror groups had already tried, on four separate occasions, to send these newer, more deadly explosives into the United States.

"There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs," Feinstain said. "There are bombs that go through (metal-detecting) magnetometers."

Rogers said the evolving nature of the terror threat - both an increase in the number of al Qaeda affiliates globally and the group's shifting strategy - has produced an enemy that, even if it’s not outright winning, has disproven Obama's claim the group is "decimated."

"Al Qaeda as we knew it before is metastasizing to something different," Rogers said.

Rogers said the terrorist network has changed its modus operandi. Rather than placing a premium on sophisticated, simultaneous large-scale terror attacks - like those of September 11, 2001, and embassy bombings throughout the 1990s - the new breed of al Qaeda is more decentralized, he said, something that will make it "exponentially" harder to stop the next attack from happening.

"They've now switched to this notion that smaller events are OK, so if you have more smaller events than bigger events, they think that might still lead to their objectives and their goals," Rogers said.

Rogers said the potency of the al Qaeda threat comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the American intelligence apparatus working to root out the next terror events.

"The pressure on our intelligence services to get it right, to prevent an attack, are enormous," Rogers said.
Rogers said a wave of disclosures about U.S. intelligence collection - revelations prompted by leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden - has turned public opinion against agencies that are working to defend the United States.

"Our intelligence services are not the bad guys," Rogers said.

Rogers said the disclosures are not just a source of consternation among counterterrorism officials, but also a serious risk to national security. In describing the headaches posed by the drips from Snowden's spigot of classified documents detailing National Security Agency operations, Rogers said the revelations about the agency's methods of surveillance have already prompted three al Qaeda affiliates to change the way they communicate. With every disclosure, he said, it becomes more and more likely that a planned attack will slip through the intelligence web.

"I can't tell the thousands of man-hours they have spent trying to prepare people to understand fact from fiction, what is happening versus what is not happening," Rogers said.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. burn

    I believe terrorists are either third degree fremasons, Proctor and Gamble or Jesse Jackson Push worldwide headquarters It comes from the United Stated to international countries. Illuminati droes not get their way create a revolution regarding investments to be had. Freemason dictstors into power etc

    December 1, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. jinx9to88

    Yep the GOP trolls blame Obama for this but then on the other hand they slam him for NSA. GOP trolls are never happy. If you want a safer place to live you have to give up some privacy.

    December 1, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. burn

    This is worldwide! Unions, Freemasons Proctor gamble! Scientology or other religions! It comes from United States influencing international! Irish politics in Ireland By IRISH Union leaders! Everyone wqnts to control and dictate, We need new laws to stop these lobbyists all originally formed for the Protection of our Basic Human Rights and employment laws. Genes pushing for supremacy reasons. What happened to our nation? Everyone is dictaing or contolling poor average citizens. Lobbyis groups corporate or Unions Fraternal Organizations worldwide should not be used and their lawyers on personal reasons. Race, religion in place of covering harrassment illegal surveillances changed motives and allow attorneys to dig dig for years so a neighbor or group wont do time for raiding a home . Federal Dept Of justices does tell lies and are suceptible to bribe taking from billionaires fraternity groups.Mr. Thomas N. Moose a hate monger who alleges unjust enrichment stalked me and used his connections Louisian affairs

    December 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. jinx9to88

    @ bill
    i thought obummer said we had them on the run. oh never mind just another lie.

    ------–

    Kinda like Bush standing on that warship in 2004 claiming "mission accomplished to Iraq War" or going to war claiming WMD"s? You cant say Bush without thinking "lie". The main problem with GOP these days is they don't know how to use the smart side of their brain. GOP voters are stuck in the faux bubble daily.

    December 1, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. tom l

    @rs,
    The only one that has proposed a perpetual war is President Obama in Afghanistan. Check your facts.

    December 1, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. tom l

    That is a picture of two obvious racists who can't stand seeing a black man as president.

    December 1, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Obama

    Some more senseless fear mongering to take away more rights of the people of america and continue mindless wars..

    December 1, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Obviously

    Are we safer now? LOL. Israel is going to evict another 70,000 more palestinians from their villages and homes soon and the world (or terrorists) blame the US for backing them.

    December 1, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. volatility

    Stop feeding us this terror stuff!!

    December 1, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Paul

    More scare tactics by the US govt so they can continue to take our freedoms, one by one.

    December 1, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. volatility

    Your fear campaign is spooking the sheep.

    December 1, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Jared

    Fear Campaign in full effect ladies and gentlemen.

    December 1, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Thomas Nelson

    First, I am extremely skeptical of any national security warning I get from Congress, which has a sad track record of inaccurate statements designed to increase fear among Americans and consequently increased budgets for Congress to play with.
    Second, assuming that these Congresspeople are correct, we ought to ask ourselves why the threat is increasing. Why are we so hated? It's not because of our freedoms, it's because we're perceived as bullies, and bullies are universally hated. Add to this the utter failure of our institutions to deal with the excesses of the past decade (our federal courts, specifically) illustrated by such events as Guantanamo's continued operation, the assassination of American citizens, and of course the wholesale risk-free targeting by drones, and you have a recipe for stoking that hatred and fanning the flames.
    If safety is indeed our objective, our actions have been profoundly counterproductive.
    Tom Nelson

    December 1, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Jared

    Mr. Seher,

    You have spooked the sheep into irrelevant conversation.

    December 1, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Profit

    There will be wars and rumors of wars. The end is surely near.

    December 1, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Prophet

    And it will be impossible to discern men from women. And you will hear of w ars and rumors of w ars.

    December 1, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Jody

    The authors article has spooked the sheep into a silly conversation.

    December 1, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. rs

    Tom-
    What has the GOP proposed in Syria, Libya, N. Korea and Iran? Here's a hint: WAR. War that will destroy our domestic programs, war that will kill someone else's' kids, war that will make Halliburton lots of money. The GOP and the Right (including your warped "Libertarians) are little better than a reality TV version of the "Hunger Games".

    December 1, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. johnnyb

    Fear Campaign in full effect!! Looks like the authors article spooked the sheep into a ridiculous conversation. wow.

    December 1, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. awaken

    fear campaign in full effect – stop getting all these sheep worked up.

    December 1, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. anthony ta

    President said that terrorists on the run. He is right. They run outvthr caves and run everywhere in the worl

    December 1, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Fair is fair

    No kidding we got one in the White House! Obama has killed thousands!!!

    December 1, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    the dems just keep amazing me. they claim tht obamas foreign policy is working, but more people are out ther angry at the us. they claim that they are working to protect us but they refuse to strengthen the borders. they claim that they need to spy on all of us yet the terrorist threat is growing.

    i think that the terrorists are in washington and we citizens are in for a very hard time ahead

    December 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Fuhrer X

    Playing big brother to Israel will only cause more problems for the U.S. .. They have nuclear weapons to protect themselves.. let them stand on their own feet. The U.S. has done more than enough to help them.

    December 1, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. t_wicker

    "I can't tell the thousands of man-hours they [intelligence services sic] have spent trying to prepare people to understand fact from fiction, what is happening versus what is not happening," Rogers said.

    This statement sounds so bizarre concerning the level of secrecy and the vagueness of the reporting.

    December 1, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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