January 3rd, 2010
03:41 PM ET
12 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. D. Tree

    Especially since Bush and Cheney ignored Al Qeada while being distracted with Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

    January 3, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. JonDie

    This certainly could be true. In 2001 we invaded Afghanistan, supposedly to take care of bin Laden. But from 2002 to 2008 Bush and Cheney left out troops in Afghanistan with no mission, no strategy and no leadership, and thus, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever and our NATO allies are wondering why they sent their troops to Afghanistan. Plus Bush and Cheney helped create Al Qaeda cells in Iraq while ignoring Yemen, and we're stuck with a corrupt, ineffective dictator, Karzai, in Afghanistan. Thank goodness we finally have a president who isn't not an ignorant, fraudulent dud like Bush.

    January 3, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Let me see if I understand:
    In the eight plus years since the 9/11/01 attacks, things have gotten WORSE???
    Wasn't about 80% of that during and/or because of the Bush administration? I mean, after seven plus years of opportunity and intention, shouldn't things be better for us now? Or was he making the argument that things WERE better, but that the Obama administration has caused all of the problems?

    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.”

    Talk about cowardly! Not having the courage of your own convictions: If you wanted them executed, because you KNEW that you didn't want to let them go and you didn't have a legitimate case against them (even in those trumped up Kangaroo military tribunals), then you should have taken care of it on YOUR WATCH instead of leaving an impossible situation for this administration, then complaining about it.

    So, what should we do with them, now that you held them all that time and probably turned them from wrong place/wrong timers into "I'm going to get even for the years I was held without charges, without reason, only to be let go?"
    At some point, you guys should STFU and hope America doesn't come looking fto hold YOU without charges till we get bored of it.

    January 3, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    This statement holds the most truth of any statement I have seen in months.

    " I think what we have to do is to think back after 9/11 when this country came together, when Democrat and Republican said, 'We have to make sure that we are able to stop al Qaeda from carrying out its acts of terrorism and trying to murder innocent civilians.' "

    We need to stop this cat fighting back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. We went with the Republican drum beat until the leadership changed. Now we should be marching to the drum beat of the Democratic leadership but whatever the drumbeat, we should still be all marching together. I am sure former President Bush does not agree 100% with decision made by the Obama Administration, however, I applaud him for his silence as he allows the new leader to lead. His former Vice President, on the other hand, needs to be reigned in. His constant criticism of the administration is an aid only to our enemies.

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Beverly in NC

    If this man is an EX agent – then how would he have any relevant intelligence data to back up his claims.

    Typical Republican – just make fear statements and never back them up with facts or data to prove what they say is remotely true.

    Let's not repeat 2009. Let's make 2010 a year of positive talk and more efforts to restore America. No more fear-mongering, hate speech, outright lies, and obstructionism against moving America forward and passing progressive and humanitarian legislation that help ALL Americans – not small sects of the rich, the powerful and the greedy.

    January 3, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. FailinPalin

    Dick Cheney will be remembered as a terrorist too. He and many of his fellow republicans have no problem tearing down and disrespecting the office of the President if it will further their own ambitions. Pitiful.

    January 3, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Emma

    Scheuer obviously did not do his job well to create a safe world. The evidence tells us differently.

    January 3, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. A. Smith, Oregon

    Missing from News Media's in depth reporting on this is President Karzi several weeks ago fingered the CIA as the ones that carried out a midnight raid which murdered a large number of Afghanistan children and young male civilians. That act of evil resulted in a regional outrage by the Afghanistan people against the American troops stationed there even thou the American troops didn't have anything to do with that slaughter of Afghan civilians.

    January 3, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. yup

    ...Butttt the likelihood of it happening again akin to 9/11 is not so be quiet.

    January 3, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. spare us the games...........

    No matter Democrat or Republican....let's not get in the habit of constantly upgrading or downgrading the dangerousness of being at war. We should just say we're always in extreme danger of being attacked until we finish kicking al-qaeda's ass..............................and when it's over....we'll let you know.....because the public really wants to be sparred the details over debates about levels of dangerousness for political points with grandstanding of any political party. And unfortunately....the GOP is more guilty of this than anybody.

    January 3, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Peter

    This guy is an Ex-Agent...Most likely fired for political bias, I bet the RNC hired him as a smear campaign operative..

    January 3, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Average American

    Al Qaeda has nothing to fear from the U.S., now. They're going to go go for everything, because they have no fear of committing crimes or being arrested. After all, it's only criminal action, now, not a war. What is to fear? If the U.S. won't go all out in Afganistan, why would they go all out for crimes??????

    January 3, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. b franklin

    Ladies and Gentlemen.

    Bush is no longer President. When Obama took the oath of office ,nearly a year ago , he became responsible for the country. So far he seems most adept at pasing the buck and never admitting anything that he's done wrong. Let's hope he shows real leadership in 2010 by dismissing Napolitano who should have never been nominated or confirmed, then he can say that sending terrorists back to a country that trained the most recent attempt at terror against the US (Yemen). He won't though, because he is incapable of admitting his errors and the lot of you are facilitators, worshipping him depite the obvious shortcomings. I am willing to give him a chance to make things right, but I'm not holding my breath. This administration seems o care too much about the feelings and care of the terrorists and the ectremists that sponsor terror. Protection of our country is a secondary concern.

    January 3, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Tired of The Rhetoric

    And the reason we have a greater threat is because we allowed then to recruit a massive number of people by fighting a war that was unjustified.
    When someone does something wrong ( 9/11) but you punush the wrong perosn( Iraq) all you do is give credance for the original action or at least build some sympathy.

    January 3, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. chris l

    the threat is obviously greater now that we have an extremely weak cowardly administration. i mean lets be honest, Iran, Al Queda and all of Americas enemies around the globe are definitely emboldened with ODUMBO and his merry band of radical liberals in charge. While the Libs continue with one failed ridiculous policy after another and constantly scream BUSH, CHENEY, PALIN, BUSH, CHENEY, PALIN, the rest of the world is rolling on the floor laughing at the patheticness of the U.S.A. But hey maybe if the Libs just continue to BUSH it up things will improve LOL. Hey Libs, time for a new bumper sticker slogan.

    January 3, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Claire Solt, PhD

    A lot more accurate information would be a good antidote to the kneejerk sloganeering posted here. Except there is no help for the one who says we should all join arms and follow the leader like lemmings off of a cliff.
    Do you ever think about the pap you repeat, such as Iraq had nothing to do with 911? Why should it? Will you soon be righteously asserting that Yemen had nothing to do with 911, either?

    You might look up what the Bush administration did to keep Yemen and the pirates of Somalia out of the news, if you ever tire of the slogans of the 2004 election. 🙂

    January 3, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Cindy

    The country can't come together, as long as Republicans continue to be hell bent set on wanting Obama to fail. Democrats have been going it alone for a whole year now, simply because Republicans have been told to stay united in saying "no" to everything. They just want to "de"struct, not "con"struct.

    That strategy by the Republicans is what's making this country go down hill, and more vulnerable.

    January 3, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. joe smith

    the parade list was long, and the lies grew more exagerated with each testimony; Rice, Rumdfeld,Powell,etc., but in the end as we all found out, NO WMD; now, we are to believe some 19 year old kid, who looks too afraid of his own shadow, is somehow capable of an act of terrorism, perhaps, but with a lot of help..you take it from there..

    January 3, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Nancy Palosi come on down and by the way just who's side are you on Miss uncover the secrets lady.

    January 3, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Terry from West Texas

    1. Terrorism is not our worst problem. Let's skip over global warming, overpopulation, the proliferation of incredibly destructive weapons to the horrible totalitarian regimes that will use them in horrible ways and consider only the lost American lives that we can count.

    Let's say that 10,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists on 9/11 and later on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. During that same span of time...

    300,000 Americans died from lack of health insurance (preventable, treatable, or curable diseases)

    200,000 Americans were shot, stabbed, exploded, or otherwise rendered lifeless by other Americans who were probably drunk, high, in a gang, or speeding.

    10,000,000 Americans died because tobacco companies created advertising campaigns to addict Americans to their product and because they were suckers

    2,000,000 died because they were alcohol addicts

    If only terrorism was our worst problem...

    January 3, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    If al Qaeda is stronger it's because:

    – the Iraqi invasion has been a huge recruiting tool for terrorists worldwide

    – Ditto for Abu Ghraib

    – Ditto for and Gitmo

    – Probably most importantly, Bush failed to capture Osama bin Laden; evidence indicates Bush went so far as to let bin Laden escape into Pakistan.

    January 3, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Marco

    Yes the Islamic threat (some call it al-qaeda, radicalism, etc) will continue to grow unless it is met straight on by the free world. The alternative is world domination and enslavement under Shariah law. The world would be plunged into an archaic 6th century lie that has grown like a cancer on people's minds. I've no doubt that it will be defeated. I just hope it will be erased from the face of the earth for ever.

    January 3, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Boy, the GOP is really pulling out all the stops with their new mantra about our country not being safe under President Obama. Guess the 2010 mid-term election has started!

    The problem, you see, is that the GOP thinks we're all a bunch of idiots and that we can't remember the failures of the Bush & Cheney Administration and policies.

    The GOP base may be a bunch of stupid sheep, but the rest of us can actually use our brains – and I predict the GOP will get its fanny handed to them come November 2010.

    January 3, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Terry from West Texas

    2. There is a large group of people who make a living off of terrorism. These men (mostly) are not terrorists but they are the consultants and experts that advise us on how to deal with terrorists. The more terrified we are of terrorists, the more money they make. They consult to governments, they consult to weapons manufacturers, they consult to large corporations, and they put together corporations that provide private protection to those who pay for it.

    Weapons manufacturers profit from terrorism. They make money both ways. They sell to both sides. They keep secrets too. We really have no idea what weapons are being sold to what villain.

    These talking heads are using the underpants bomber's attempt to bring down a plane to get us all worked up so we put terrorism back at the top of the list of priorities. That equates to dollars in their wallets.

    Many of them, I am sure, are wise and experienced experts but there is a lot of money at stake. If we have learned anything in this century it is that a man will do pretty much anything for a hundred million dollars.

    January 3, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    I have a bad feeling that what the GOP really wants is for our country to suffer a major terrorist attack, along the lines of 9/11, so they can use it against Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections.

    How utterly despicable ... low ... evil ... and unfortunately, given the actions of the GOP leadership lately, totally believable.

    January 3, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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