Beltway Confidential

U.S. is not safer from terrorism today, say House, Senate intelligence leaders in moment of bipartisan candor

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Beltway Confidential,CNN,Terrorism,al Qaeda,Dianne Feinstein,Charles Hoskinson

A moment of bipartisan candor about the terrorist threat to the United States took CNN's Candy Crowley by surprise today.

On her "State of the Union" program, Crowley asked Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., this question: "Are we safer now than we were a year ago, two years ago -- in general?"

Said Feinstein: "I don't think so. I think terror is up worldwide. The statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bombmaker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there."

Responded Crowley: "I have to say that is not the answer I expected."

But Rogers gave the same response: "I absolutely agree that we're not safer today for the same very reasons. So the pressure on our intelligence services to get it right and to prevent an attack are enormous. And it's getting more difficult because we see the al Qaeda as we knew it before is metastasizing into something different. More affiliates than we've ever had before, meaning more groups that have operated independently of al Qaeda have now joined al Qaeda around the world. All of them have at least some aspiration to commit an act of violence in the United States or against Western targets all around the world. They've now switched to this notion that maybe smaller events are okay. ... That makes it exponentially harder for our intelligence services to stop an event like that."

Remember during the 2012 campaign when President Obama often said al Qaeda was "on the ropes?" Perhaps this is why he now avoids that phrase.

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