(Talon News) — Leaders of the FBI, CIA, and other government intelligence organizations testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday and warned of future terror attacks, with CIA Director Porter Goss saying that al Qaeda is “intent on finding ways to circumvent U.S. security enhancements to strike Americans and the homeland.”
“Defeating terrorism must remain one of our intelligence community’s core objectives, as widely dispersed terrorist networks will present one of the most serious challenges to U.S. national security interests at home and abroad in the coming year,” Goss said in comments released by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Goss said that it is “only a matter of time” before al Qaeda or other terror groups attempt “to use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. The CIA director added that while the conflict in Iraq is “not a cause of extremism,” it has become a “cause for extremists.”
In prepared comments, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that his organization has identified “various extremists located throughout the U.S. and is monitoring their activities.”
“Although these efforts have made us safer, they are also a sobering reminder of the threat we continue to face,” Mueller said in his opening statement.
In comments to reporters following a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld echoed the sentiments of the intelligence leaders, saying that officials have been following “a series of very real intelligence that reflected al Qaeda planning for further attacks on the United States.
“I think that just because we’ve had a very successful election in Iraq and just because Afghanistan was able to get through their elections and just because we’ve been fortunate in this country and not seen another attack since September 11th that does not mean it’s over,” Rumsfeld said.
“It isn’t over,” the defense secretary added. “It’s going to take a while.”
Rumsfeld credited a “worldwide 90-nation coalition” for helping dry up some of the money flowing into the terror networks. Rumsfeld also noted the successes in capturing or killing “two-thirds of the senior al Qaeda leadership.”
“I think just because all those things have occurred there ought not to be a relaxation,” Rumsfeld cautioned. “It is a very serious business we’re in and they still have money and they still are determined to do the kinds of things we’ve seen done in four or five or six countries around the world in the last two and half years and we still have a big job to do.”
In addition to al Qaeda, CIA Director Goss also noted the troubling events in North Korea.
“North Korea continues to develop, produce, deploy, and sell ballistic missiles of increasing range and sophistication,” Goss said in his prepared opening statement.
Last week, North Korean officials admitted that the country indeed possesses nuclear weapons. In a statement by North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials said the country has taken the “resolute action” of pulling out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has “manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration’s evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle [North Korea].”
Goss added, “We believe North Korea has active [chemical and biological weapons] programs and probably has chemical and biological weapons ready for use.