The latest National Intelligence Estimate predicts that America will “face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years.” It went on to say that while international counterterrorism efforts have “constrained” the ability of al Qaeda to attack the US homeland over the past five years, it fears the effort will “wane.” And, the NIE says that al Qaeda has “protected or regenerated key elements” of its capability to attack the US homeland. The Democratic-led Congress sees this as verification that the Bush Administration has led us astray from the main objective: defeating al Qaeda instead of invading Iraq. As Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, acknowledges that “hindsight” shows “we missed an important opportunity when Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora” in Afghanistan. A statement from US Northern Command indicates the homeland defense command is “keenly aware” of the latest NIE and “continuously evaluate all credible intelligence information” to ensure the command can “disrupt and defeat those who wish to kill innocent civilians.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.