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. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Is it politically incorrect to use the speaker of the houses name to point the breakdown at the party at fault for the loss of containment of our military secrets you should be proud of yourself speaker.

    January 3, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. indiana voter

    Al Qaeda had huge victories the past couple of weeks. They got someone on a plane that actually made it to the U.S. Fortunately, he was unable to ignite the chemicals. Second, they managed to scare this administration into closing down its embassies in Yemen. Obama gave in to terrorism and is seen by Al Qaeda as a weak President, for he did exactly what they were wanting him to do and get out of Yemen altogether. Too bad we don't have Bush in the White House. He at least knows who the enemy is and believes that we can win against them.

    January 3, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Now we all know what the GOP did over Winter Break: Come up with their latest scare tactic to try to make our president and our country fail.

    Oooooo! Everyone be afraid! Stop spending time and energy on health care and the economy and jobs and all the others things that the American people need and want ... GW Bush couldn't watch TV and eat a pretzel without choking, so we know President Obama can't possibly do more than one thing at a time ... Even though the would-be bomber was trained by people released from Gitmo by Bush, cleared security in the Netherlands and was unsuccessful in his attempt to detonate his bomb, and was acting in retaliation to bombing Yemen ordered by President Obama – blame President Obama ... and don't forget ... be VERY AFRAID!

    (And vote for us come November .... This nonsensical, irresponsible, anti-American attack brought to you by the GOP which is solely responsible for its idiotic content.)

    GOP = Party Before Country

    January 3, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Osama bin Laden wouldn't be a threat if Bush hadn't let him escape over the Afghan border into Pakistan.

    January 3, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. ib

    I love how anything that is said about Obama the liberals always; always fall back and blame Bush to cover Obama's butt. Obama needs to stay in DC long enough to see what is really going on but he's to busy flying in AF1 to worry about attacks on this country and he can always say he inherited from Bush.

    January 3, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Qster

    Somehow I missed the link for the free barf bags based on the commentary above. I’m sure your ‘Bush stole 2K’ amulet will protect you against the Jihadist’s strange calamity entitled ‘Death to the Great Satan’. Maybe in unison, our posters here can chant Allah-u-Obama while the Jihadist does Allah_u_Akbar. So, you think we could get a U-tube of it at 30K feet with some pyrotechnics?

    January 3, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Jacob

    The one thing that flight 253 has made very obvious is that when fighting an enemy like Al-Qaeda, you can never truly defeat the threat, only manage it as best as is possible. Unlike a government that invades another country, fighting Islamic radicalism is fighting an idea, not a political body. How can you defeat an idea that individuals act on behalf of? We are still trying to approach a middle eastern problem with a western solution and that is our major issue right now.

    January 3, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. racoco

    Will Barack Hussien Obama and Michelle Obama be sent to separate prisons or will they be housed in the same prison for their life terms for treason ?

    January 3, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. grizzly

    president obozo will invite the terrorists over to the White House for a beer summit and then bow down to them as he does every one that he meets...other than Americans

    January 3, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. racoco

    Several of Obama's close advisors are working for a Chavist type dictatorship by Obama. However I see from news services ( that is non CNN sources) that there is electricity rationing in Venezuela because of incompetence of the Marxist dictatorship. Why would any American wish to have a Chavist/Marxist dictatorship imposed on them by Obama and CNN ?

    January 3, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    Americans made a decision about the importance of security when they voted in the Obama administration in 2008. We are still waiting to see some leadership. They will not make that mistake in 2012.

    January 3, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    There's always going to be a threat, whether it be from al Qaeda or some other militant Islamist group, or any militant group at all. It would be nice to have a plan that takes that fact into consideration instead of going all reactionary and bombing everything in sight after the fact.

    Close GITMO, it's a recruiting tool. Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan; we're killing civilian muslims (collateral damage – who was the genius that came up with that one?). Invading sovereign nations for some non-definitive "war on terror" is never a good idea, as we have sadly seen. And invading for oil sucks too. Broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Some other genius came up with the idea that carving a piece of land out of Palestine to create Israel was a good idea. Maybe it wasn't, but it's done, and these people have to live together. Israel can't keep pushing the Palestinians out.

    And even if we achieve all of the above, we're still going to have militants who hate (whether inside our out of our country). There's no rhyme or reason to hate. Deal with it.

    January 3, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. Jasmine in Germany

    Thank God that the USA has an intelligent , brilliant, and "normal" President. Cheney would be wise to give it up. Most of the civilized world dislikes and disrespects the former administration, which includes Cheney ; both are associated with corruption as well as warmongering.

    Al Qaeda just loves it when US Americans disagree amongst themselves. That feeds their mission. It also proves to them that US Americans are stupid, in general. The GOP does a great job of supporting this.

    I've got a message for those folks who don't wish to support our President: Has it occurred to you that al Qaeda has been funding the GOP? If you think my comment is extreme, then you better take a closer look at the behavior of your party.

    January 3, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Reaganomics Leads To Feudalism

    The reason WHY the threat from Al Queda is greater now than on 9/11 is because we went to Iraq instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan like we should have done.

    And who's fault was that?....

    I won't mention their names, but their initials were George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    January 3, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. groy

    The fact is liberals have undermined this war since the very first days of the Bush Administration.....their brief periods of support were merely poll driven.

    The one place you'll never see one is on the front line risking their lifes...so now they whine because the rest of the country is waking up to the fraud we elected President, whine because turn about if fair play in politics....whine because it was their corruption that ruined the economy...

    It's a sad situtation liberals are at war with anyone who see them for what they are....

    January 3, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. Liberals are worthless

    Sure it is.

    We have an incompetent, imbecile in the White House right now.

    January 3, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. Phillipa

    Why is the threat greater now than on 9/11? Because of Cheney and Bush's lies, and their illegal, immoral war in Iraq.

    Way to go guys!!

    January 3, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. mavcal

    The threat is greater now because George Bush started an unncessary war in Iraq when he should have put all resources into finding bin Laden and dismantaling that operation. Now we have Obama who can't even keep party crashers out of the White House and is more focused on his image than on substantive matters. He's turning out to the the Monday morning President.

    January 3, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. lefty loosy

    The dumocrats should have backed Hillary , at least she had experience. Obama has no clue.

    January 3, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |

    All the more reason to start Profile screening as the primary method to secure Air Travel in North America. If the worst had happened on Christmas day and the Nigerian terrorist succeeded, the plane would have come down in a populated area over Canada and would have probably caused additional deaths. Thank God this did not happen.

    Canada and the USA must start to use profiling period. Enough is enough. I have nothing against Muslims but until they get some control over the radicalization of those who practice their faith, citizens of both countries should and must be kept safe. All North America based airlines must insist that they start profiling. Any flight originating outside North America must screen all those that fit the profile.

    January 3, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Lets all just keeping on interigating the C.I.A. and make shure there not breaking any human right's violation's we wouldnt want to be unfair to our enemy huh Nancy .

    January 3, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. Future expat

    As GOPers continue to repeat Dick Cheney's latest discredited meme ( the one about Obama refusing to say we're at war), it's becoming increasingly clear that these people's version of reality has little to do with actual world events.

    If they really love America as much as they'd claim, they'd be working towards solutions. Lapsing into hysterics about "socialist marxist fascist communist nazi muslim Obama" doesn't really accomplish much.

    January 3, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. jack

    Lets be honest about one thing. Actions speak louder than words. While the last administration loved to use slogans and talk about what they would do in response to threats, they didn't follow it up with action. Placing rewards on the heads of Al Qaeda's leaders and then not tracking them down, huge mistake. The threat of retaliation was hollow, and that brought about a sense of empowerment by terrorists. There was nothing to fear from the paper tiger called the USA. Sending more troops to Afghanistan, Obama was smart to weight that decision. More troops didn't help in Viet Nam, nor did it help the Russians when they were in Afghanistan. Only by finding bin Laden and his lieutenant and KILLING both of them then displaying the bodies before the world will terrorists become afraid again of the power and retaliation that can be brought down upon them by us. The power of the sword can be mightier than the pen.

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

    This is the way it is. America is for all intents and purposes doing its best to combat terrorism in the world. Britain is also doing its fair share. Canada is doing a good job, too. Pakistan is trying and doing its best based on its odd political situation. The rest of the world needs to step up to the plate. The point is they're all too chicken and would rather our soldiers die than their own soldiers, and for us to pay for it instead of them. I am EXTREMELY disappointed that the countries on the Arabian peninsula, particularly Saudi Arabia, will not completely handle and eliminate Al Quaeda in Yemen. One would think it would be in their own best interest! What is their problem!!!

    January 3, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  25. Larry

    The US government trained Osama bin Laden

    The US government trained Suddam Hussein, and helped him Gas 10,000 people

    The Bush Administration helped pull off 9 / 11 / 2001, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were a big part of killing our own, all in the name of oil, money and wars

    I'd feel safer in a cave with Osama then in this country where the real terrorists like Bush and Cheney can lie straight faced to the American people and the world, and get away with it

    January 3, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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