Washington (CNN) - Vowing to continue to "underwrite global security" - but not alone - the Obama administration Thursday released its first National Security Strategy, a 52-page outline of the president's strategic approach and priorities.
The NSS, required by Congress of every administration to be prepared every four years, for the first time combines homeland security and national security, focusing not only on threats internationally but on the threat of home-grown radicals inspired and recruited by al Qaeda.
"We view this as an important and emerging challenge," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, told reporters. Al Qaeda, he said, is less capable of using safe havens for training abroad and is now "trying to inspire Americans to carry out attacks on the U.S."
Those Americans, he said, may have less direct contact with the terrorist organization but they carry American passports and know the strengths and weaknesses of the United States.
"Several recent incidents of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our interests posed by individuals radicalized at home," the NSS states. "Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities and institutions."
“We’ve killed some of the al Qaeda leaders and every dead al Qaeda leader is a success. But all we have is a body count,” former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
But Scheuer suggested that such individual successes could be misleading.
“We now have al Qaeda – the main al Qaeda – in the Pakistan and Afghanistan theater. We have a fully fledged wing in Yemen. We have a full fledged wing in Iraq, a fully fledged wing in north Africa and a nascent wing in Somalia. How can [al Qaeda] be less threatening to us?”
The threat posed by al Qaeda is “much greater than it was on 9/11,” Scheuer told CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.
On the same day that John Brennan, a top homeland security adviser to President Obama, said some detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility would eventually be returned to Yemen, Scheuer suggested that trying to rehabilitate Gitmo detainees was a foolhardy endeavor.
Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - In a marked shift from previous positions, senior Obama administration officials now say they are starting to see an al Qaeda connection to the attempted terror attack on a U.S.-bound airliner.
In the days after the failed attempt on Christmas Day, administration officials steadfastly shied away from linking the incident to the terror group and, in some cases, said there was no evidence of such a connection.
But one senior administration officials said late Tuesday that "some of the new information that we developed overnight does suggest that there was some linkage there" with al Qaeda.
The senior administration official was referring to intelligence that White House officials obtained late Monday night and then briefed President Obama about on Tuesday in a secure conference call.
The secure call, which included National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones and top homeland security adviser John Brennan, took place shortly before the president delivered public remarks suggesting there were "systemic and human failures" that prevented the government from stopping the attempted terror attack.
(CNN) – Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Monday for the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack on an inbound international flight, saying it was in retaliation for alleged U.S. strikes on Yemeni soil.
In the statement, published on radical Islamist Web sites, the group hailed the "brother" who carried out the "heroic attack." The group said it tested a "new kind of explosives" in the attack, and hailed the fact that the explosives "passed through security."
The group threatened further attacks, saying, "since Americans support their leaders they should expect more from us."
"We have prepared men who love to die," the statement dated Saturday said.
Former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin and CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen say the foiled terrorist attack on Christmas Day may suggest yes.
"It certainly feels that way," McLaughlin said when asked if the terror group is making a comeback. "This man had been in London, where there is frequent evidence of recruitment by Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda-related people. He claims to have been in touch with Yemenis. And Yemen is a place where Al Qaeda is on the move, a strong movement there. And I think it's an exaggeration to say that Al Qaida has been weakened to the point where we don't have to worry about it anymore."
Meanwhile, Bergen said the suspect's ties to Yemen may suggest Al Qaeda is involved.
"We've seen multiple attacks - or attempted attacks on the American embassy [in Yemen]," Bergen said. "Al Qaeda has a strong foothold in Yemen. And the fact that this guy has said that he got the device in Yemen, I think, just speaks for itself."