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Saturday, September 08, 2007

U.S. CIA Chief Warns Al Qaeda's Pakistan 'Safe Haven' Is Grave Danger To US

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- CIA Director Michael V. Hayden delivered a major address last night before the Council on Foreign Relations about the war on terror. The complete text of his remarks are available here. And perhaps his most chilling words were about Pakistan -- Hayden left no doubt the CIA believes the gravest danger of another terrorist attack against the United States comes from Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He said Al Qaeda has "protected or regenerated" its capabilities from safe havens in that nation's tribal areas. He said "warning about foreign threats to our national security is part of my job."

Hayden did not delve deeply into or question the War in Iraq, which began in 2003 as a military invasion launched by the White House to buffer the nation against foreign terror.

Al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, then fled to shelter in the mountains of neighboring Pakistan when U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban. American troops were stopped from pursuing Al Qaeda at the border. Now, the CIA director is focusing upon Pakistan as the Islamic country where American intelligence services agree the gravest danger to our homeland exists, the only nation where he said Al Qaeda's "top leadership" continued to operate during the Iraq war.

Hayden said he wanted to "be clear as I can about the danger we face" and here's his summary:

1. "First, our analysts assess with high confidence that al-Qa'ida's central leadership is planning high-impact plots against the US homeland.

2. "Second, they assess -- also with high confidence -- that al'Qaida has protected or regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability. That means safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan, operational lieutenants and a top leadership engaged in planning. Al-Qa'ida's succes with the remaining element -- planting operatives in this country -- is less certain.

3. "Third, we assess -- again, with high confidence -- that al-Qa'ida is focusing on targets that would produce mass casualties, dramatic destruction, and significant economic aftershocks."

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