Mukasey 'surprised' by scope of terrorist threats|
From Terry Frieden
- Attorney general: "It's surprising how varied it is, how many directions it comes from"
- Mukasey issued no warnings and offered no suggestion of increased danger
- He urged Congress to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
- Mukasey on bin Laden messages: "I wish he weren't in a position to issue them"
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Michael Mukasey has
been taken aback by the scope and variety of potential terrorism
threats facing the United States, he told reporters Friday at an
informal meeting in his office.
"I'm surprised by how surprised I am," said Mukasey, who as a
federal judge presided over terrorism-related trials in New York.
"It's surprising how varied [the threat] is, how many directions it
comes from, how geographically spread out it is," he said.
Mukasey issued no warnings, made no pronouncements and offered no
suggestion of increased danger or newly detected plots.
He would not discuss specifics of potential threats, which remain
The attorney general said that after meeting with his European law
enforcement counterparts last week in Slovenia, he understands their
degree of anxiety as well.
"They're all concerned, and they're all looking for ways to
cooperate with the United States and with one another," he said.
The attorney general used the occasion to once again urge
congressional passage of a measure to update the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act. An initial update, termed the Protect America Act,
expired last month.
"I never thought I'd see that [expiration] happen," Mukasey said.
"The danger doesn't fade."
He also referred to the
terrorism updates he receives in early morning national security
"The people I hear about every morning, their fatwas do not have an
expiration date," Mukasey said.
The House has refused to bow to administration pressure to pass a
version of the law that exempts telecommunications giants from legal
action for taking part in the government's program to eavesdrop
without a warrant when one of the parties is inside the United States.
Critics said the program violated the law, and phone and Internet
companies face as many as 40 lawsuits related to their participation.
The Senate has passed a version that includes retroactive immunity
for the telecom companies.
Mukasey said Friday that he is open to "a creative compromise" but
that he has no "particular basis for hope."
"I'm hopeful, but if someone asked me for a reason, I'd be stuck
for an answer," he said.
When the law first lapsed several weeks ago, some intelligence may
have been lost, but that the problem has been rectified, Mukasey said.
"There were a couple of days where we weren't working as smoothly
[with the telecom firms]. That has since been put back together," he
"I don't know what intelligence we missed," he added.
Asked about the latest taped comments from al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden, Mukasey shook his head. "Am I alarmed? I'm
alarmed, I guess. I wish he weren't in a position to issue them."
Michael Mukasey •
Osama bin Laden • Terrorism
Original article: CNN
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