January 3rd, 2010
03:41 PM ET
13 years ago

Ex-CIA agent: Threat from al Qaeda greater now than on 9/11

Washington (CNN) – The man once charged with overseeing the CIA’s hunt of Osama bin Laden said Sunday that the threat posed by al Qaeda is greater now than at the time of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that bin Laden orchestrated.

“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.

“The Saudis, the Yemenis, they know our system better than we do in many ways. They know we like the idea of people being rehabilitated,” Scheuer told Borger.

“The whole repatriation business is just a nonsense,” Scheuer added. “These people we hold at Guantanamo want to be released, not to be free but to go back to the battlefield [in Iraq and Afghanistan]. And Mr. Brennan, just like the last administration, is really portraying something to the American people that is the farthest thing from the truth.”

Scheuer also suggested the Obama administration was wrongheaded in trying to rely on the struggling government in Yemen to help fight the growing presence of al Qaeda in that war torn country.

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Guantanamo Bay • State of the Union
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Tanbiker2

    Anyone who thinks that a CIA analyst is or was responsible for "overseeing the hunt for Osama bin Laden" is seriously uninformed and utterly ignorant of CIA operational and analytical procedures.

    January 3, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. DR

    You will never ever get to the bottom of this. For every fanatic you kill, there are dozens being born and indoctrinated. We need to listen at why they hate us, and fix it! We do not belong in the middle east.. Let Israel take care of themselves.

    January 3, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. George E

    the threat posed by al Qaeda is greater now than at the time of the September 11??????????????????

    January 3, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Nea

    Criticism, Critcism thats all we hear people complaing about the President being weak not know what they are talkin about but if he was so weak then why some are Complaining that his foreign policy is a lot like Pres. Bush.ecept we dont toture now under this administration. I donot care what President Obama does some will find a complaint somewhere, even now some are complaing about the scanners at the airport its like dame if we do, dame if we dont,.

    January 3, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. Sense

    Bush and Cheney wasted lives, resources, and time in Iraq, to let Bin Laden who was paid by Reagan and Bush Sr. (see Operation Cyclone) to get a head start from the U.S. military in Afghanistan, which was woefully underfunded and under manned. Now Obama serious about fighting the right fight will have a hard time funding his leg of the war.

    January 3, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. ann

    Well of course. The more we become complacent, the easier it is for terrorists to infiltrate the CIA, FBI, Afghan army, etc. 7 CIA agents, C'mon – that is not a coincidence. It was definitely an inside job. If you want revenge for the magnificent 7, then you should check each and every current employee those agencies have on the payroll and beyond.

    January 3, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. marcus (seattle)

    let's not forget that we have W and Dick Cheney to thank for 8 blundering years of waging war in the wrong country, and letting bin laden relocate, reformulate, and extend out his terror machine..

    January 3, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  8. Miss Boop

    can't find a place to comment on BBC's story about pat-downs and luggage search on countries associated with terrorism....NOT INCLUDED is Saudi Arabia...correct me if I am wrong, but weren't at least 11 of the 9/11 terrorists holding passports from that country???

    January 3, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. Aaron

    That was counter-productive. One idiot that couldn't stop the terrorists telling a new bunch of idiots that can't prevent an identified terrorist from boarding a US flight how to do it right.

    January 3, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |

    There are a lot of enemies of the American way of life. The list begins, of course, with Al Qaeda, the Iranian theocracy, Hezbollah the resurgent Russia ultra-nationalists, the North Korean dictatorship, Hugo Chavez and the Republican Party, just to name the worst offenders.

    January 3, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  11. jules sand-perkins

    I believe that Michael Scheuer is absolutely correct. He confirms my thinking that Al Qaeda is spreading to many new countries and growing in each one.
    We are at war not only with Al Qaeda, but also with those host countries that protect its members.

    January 3, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. CommonSense09

    President Obama has kept us safer longer than Bush did. If we're all really just going to play politics, like the Republicans do, then if we're keeping score I would say President Obama and the Democrats are way ahead.

    January 3, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Elliott Carlin

    We conservatives are in a no-win situation as it relates to criticism of this administrations lackadaisical approach to terrorism.

    Our point is proved when there are security lapses of these magnitudes and it is only going to get worse. Fort Hood, Detroit-they'll keep coming on our soil because they know this administration is weak on terror, unlike Bush/Cheney.

    Funny how Bush gets blamed for 9/11 because he had 9 months on the job and should have known it was going to happen; yet Chairman Obama, as well as the rest of us, had plenty of evidence of an economic downturn and 9 months into his presidency and things are worse (by the work of his own hands).

    Funny how we're already longing for the economy and safeguards of the Bush years...

    January 3, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. T'SAH from Virginia

    Did anyone BLAME the BUSH administration when the "shoe bomber" performed his act of terror??? NO

    Since the "shoe bomber", all of the airlines made you "take off your shoes"... How long did that last???

    Did anyone think that a terrorist would put a bomb up his ASH and succeed in getting it on board an airline??? NO

    Now, are we going to look up everyone's ASH to search for a bomb??

    Come on now – Al Qaeda is far ahead of use and already planning their next strategy. While we're worrying about what's up someone's ASH, the next bomb will be implanted or swallowed!!!

    Everyone from the RIGHT wants to blame President Obama because they do not want to take the HEAT from the American People. There are RepubliCAN'Ts and Democrats in the house and it does not matter who the minority is – they all should work together to KEEP US SAFE!!!

    January 3, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. Tony Justin

    Mr. Scheuer is notorious for embellishing facts and distorting threats in order to make him more popular on the cable TV circuit. I don't understand why we have to be so fearful and panic-stricken? Yes, there are bad people in the world, and some of them want to do use great harm. We should use well-managed intelligence agencies to help track down these people and reduce the threat. I don't agree that radicals in Yemen are a real threat to the existence of the USA – they may be able to inflict a little damage, but certainly nothing like the damage caused by weather problems, traffic accidents, or inner city violence.

    January 3, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. Squigman

    It's a shame there's no way to make both political parties show some responsibility for the mess the nation is in. The Republicans, make believe the years from 2000, to 2009 never happened. It was just our imagination getting away from us. Then the Democrats take over, and improvements are slow coming. Slow improvements, always placed under the microscope of the party responsible for the 8 year ruination of the nation. Fear not though, there will always be factions claiming their party cares more than the other partry for the common working person. Here's where the lies get real thick. The two parties care about who's in charge, not who's doing a good job for the country or the people who live here. Could this be a clue?

    January 3, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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