End Times News Update
Sign: Rumors of War
Scripture: Matthew 24:6
News Source: The New York Times
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Senators Warned of Terrorist Attack on U.S. by July

By MARK MAZZETTI
Published: February 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — America’s top intelligence official told lawmakers on
Tuesday that he was “highly certain” that Al Qaeda or one of its
affiliates would attempt a large-scale attack on American soil within
the next six months.

The assessment by Dennis C. Blair, the director of national
intelligence, was much starker than his view last year, when he
emphasized the considerable progress in the campaign to debilitate Al
Qaeda and said that the global economic meltdown, rather than the
prospect of a major terrorist attack, was the “primary near-term
security concern of the United States.”

Citing a recent wave of terrorist plots, including the failed Dec. 25
attempt to blow up an airliner as it approached Detroit, Mr. Blair and
other intelligence officials told a Senate panel that Al Qaeda had
adjusted its tactics to more effectively strike American targets
domestically and abroad.

“The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11,”
said Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director. “It is that Al Qaeda is
adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to
detect.”

As the C.I.A. continues its campaign of drone attacks aimed at Qaeda
operatives in the mountains of Pakistan, the officials also said that
the network’s splinter groups in Yemen and Somalia were taking on more
importance.

But Mr. Blair began his annual threat testimony before Congress by
saying that the threat of a crippling attack on telecommunications and
other computer networks was growing as an increasingly sophisticated
group of enemies had “severely threatened” the sometimes fragile
systems undergirding the country’s information infrastructure.

“Malicious cyberactivity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with
extraordinary sophistication,” he told the Senate Intelligence
Committee.

His emphasis on the threat points up the growing concerns among
American intelligence officials about the potentially devastating
results of a coordinated attack on the nation’s technology apparatus,
sometimes called a “cyber Pearl Harbor.”

He said that the surge in cyberattacks, including the recent
penetration of Google’s servers from inside China, was a “wake-up
call” for those who dismissed the threat of computer warfare.

“Sensitive information is stolen daily from both government and
private sector networks, undermining confidence in our information
systems, and in the very information these systems were intended to
convey,” Mr. Blair said.

In another departure from last year’s testimony, Mr. Blair appeared
alongside other top intelligence officials, including the heads of the
C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Last year, the
intelligence director sat alone before the committee, a partly
symbolic gesture intended to demonstrate the authority of the director
of national intelligence, whose office has been criticized for
commanding little power over America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

At times, the senators seemed more interested in debating one another
than in hearing testimony from the assembled witnesses. Midway through
the hearing, partisan bickering broke out about whether terrorist
suspects ought to be tried in civilian courts and whether the man
charged as the Dec. 25 bomber should have been given Miranda rights
that could protect him against self-incrimination.

As senators traded barbs, the intelligence officials stared stonily
ahead or shuffled their notes.

The intelligence chiefs also raised warnings about nuclear
proliferation, particularly focusing on the nuclear programs in Iran
and North Korea.

Mr. Blair said that Iran “has the scientific, technical and industrial
capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons,” and that the recent
discovery of a secret enrichment plant near the city of Qum heightened
suspicions about Iran’s intentions to build a nuclear bomb.

Still, he said that Tehran was following a “cost-benefit approach” to
its nuclear decision-making and that it remained unclear whether
Iran’s leadership would make a political calculation to begin
producing weapons-grade uranium, giving other nations the opportunity
to “influence” that decision through a variety of diplomatic steps.

Source: The New York Times
URL:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/us/politics/03intel.html

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