Al Qaeda Seen Planning Another Attack on U.S

Article excerpt

Byline: Sara A. Carter, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Senior al Qaeda leaders have diverted operatives from Iraq across the globe and are increasing preparations to strike the United States, senior intelligence officials told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday. They said the terrorists had plans to attack the White House as recently as 2006.

"Al Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S. - the identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack in the homeland," said Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, which oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Intelligence officials also said they used a controversial interrogation tactic known as "waterboarding," which some people regard as torture, only on three senior al Qaeda members early in the war on terror and that it has not been used in five years.

The officials added that al Qaeda is recruiting Westerners to terror camps in Pakistan.

"While increased security measures at home and abroad have caused al Qaeda to view the West, especially the U.S., as a harder target, we have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal areas since mid-2006, " Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. McConnell revealed that al Qaeda had plans to specifically target the White House.

"It [al Qaeda] probably will continue to devote some effort towards honoring bin Laden's request in 2005 that al Qaeda attempt to strike the United States, affirmed publicly by current al Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri in a November 2006 threat against the White House," he said.

White House officials would not comment on specific security threats to the president or the White House.

DNI officials would not elaborate or offer details of specifics to the threat.

"The statement speaks for itself," said Vanee Vines spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Mr. McConnell was seated alongside CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III; Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Randall Fort, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.

Later in the hearing, Mr. Hayden said his agency's use of "lawful interrogation" methods, including waterboarding, on three high-level al Qaeda members was necessary to gain critical information on the organization after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Hayden added that waterboarding was only used those three times as a necessary measure to handle the imminent threat posed by the terrorist organization. …