Al-Qaida still a threat, US intelligence also warns Iran prepared to attack

Dave Masko's picture

A leading U.S. intelligence expert compared Iran to a hornet’s nest; that if poked it will fight back.

The top U.S. intelligence official told Congress Jan. 31 – in an annual report about threats facing the nation – that “Iran’s leaders seem prepared to attack U.S. interests overseas, particularly if they feel threatened by possible U.S. action.” Jim Clapper, director of National Intelligence, also told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 31 in an MSNBC TV report that America “now faces many interconnected enemies, including terrorists, criminals and foreign powers, who may try to strike via nuclear weapons or cyberspace, with the movement's Yemeni offshoot and ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks posing key threats.

Al-Qaida still a threat to U.S. homeland

Intelligence experts also told Congress this week that while “al-Qaida still aspires to strike the U.S., it will likely have to go for ‘smaller, simpler attacks’ as its ranks are thinned by continued pressure from U.S. drone strikes and special operations raids since Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of Navy SEALs in Pakistan last year.”

"We judge that al-Qaida's losses are so substantial and its operating environment so restricted that a new group of leaders, even if they could be found, would have difficulty integrating into the organization and compensating for mounting losses," Clapper said in a Jan. 31 MSNBC TV report; while also noting how “the intelligence community predicts that al-Qaida's regional affiliates - from the Yemeni offshoot al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to Somalia's al-Shabaab - will ‘surpass the remnants of core al-Qaida in Pakistan," and try to attack "Western targets in its operating area.’”

In turn, Clapper added that “the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida remains the most likely affiliate to try to attack the U.S. homeland.”

The MSNBC TV report also noted that “just below al-Qaida on the list of threats comes the possibility of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from chemical and biological, to nuclear and radiological. The intelligence community does not believe states that possess them have supplied them to terror groups, but that remains a risk.”

Iran ready to complete its nukes

Also, Clapper told Congress Jan. 31 that Iran has the technical ability to build a nuclear weapon, but simply hasn't decided to yet. "We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons.”

Citing last year's thwarted Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the U.S., "some Iranian officials - probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ... are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime," Clapper said.

Romney’s inexperience in war threatens US security

Mitt Romney won the political war in Florida’s winner talk all primary, but how would this Mormon pacifist perform as commander-in-chief, ask experts and voters.

Thus, while Romney may be a big winner in the Florida primary, but most Americans cringe at the thought of Mormon pacifist Romney controlling U.S. nukes in a face-off with Iran that’s now prepared to attack U.S. interests overseas.

In fact, just the thought of Romney getting closer to becoming president worries a lot of non-Mormon Americans who question how this pacifist -- who never served in uniform – would handle today’s leading threats to the U.S.

Romney “served” in Paris during Vietnam

In turn, the “elephant in the room” for those Republicans -- who’ve either voted for or against Romney in the primaries -- is his strong Mormon faith where young Mormon men, such as Romney in the Sixties, were given a “conscientious objector” status.

Thus, Romney escaped the Vietnam War draft by putting on one of those white shirts and ties and carrying the Book of Mormon, as a “missionary” to the French people in Paris and various wine production regions during the Sixties with the goal of “converting” these alcohol-loving French wine drinkers to the strict Mormon faith that forbids wine from touching their lips, and fighting for their country.

However, things have apparently changed from Romney’s day as a Mormon missionary in France, with some Mormon youth rejecting the Mormon’s “conscientious objector” status and serving most recently in Iraq. Also, the Army now has Mormon chaplains.

Mormons prefer preaching to war

Since World War II, the Mormon stance toward “just cause and just conduct in war has provided strange guides by which to evaluate participation in specific conflicts.” Simply put, Mormons are not viewed as “warriors” or having the ability to fight and conduct in war strategies. While this sounds noble, there are “real concerns” that Romney is not up to making those same decisions as President Obama in taking out Osama bin Laden, and then fighting and winning America’s War on Terror.

Vietnam War veteran Jerry Morales, who served as a Marine drill sergeant, before retiring to Eugene, Oregon, said in a recent Huliq interview: “I don’t see any qualities of lead and fight to win,” in terms of military leadership potential from Romney.

“Romney strikes me as true blue businessman. He wears a suit, he’s never sent men into battle; faced death in war. He’s told to sound strong about Iran, but I don’t think he has a clue about real war,” added Morales, while adding “we don’t need amateurs leading our military at such a serious time in world history.

In brief, both the book, “The Enduring Paradox: Mormon Attitudes toward War and Peace,” by Pierre Blais and statements in “The Mormon Worker” state that true Mormons will not fight in any war, and “nor will they conduct in war planning,” because they are against such conflicts and “simply don’t have the fire in their belly,” said one Mormon student who became a “missionary” while in college.

Romney likes to raid corporations, not countries

Romney has proven he can earn millions as a “corporate raider,” but he has zero experience as a commander-in-chief; while not serving during the Vietnam War thanks to a Mormon religious deferment that posted him in the heart of French wine country-- with his “mission” as a Mormon missionary – to covert the French people to Mormonism that requires them not to drink wine containing alcohol.

Thus, it’s seems bizarre, stated a report in The New York Times with Romney stating: “To beat the president, you’ve got to have credibility.”

“What credibility,” ask critics of Romney who noted he has zero credibility as a military leader other than serving as governor of Massachusetts in overseeing the states National Guard. “He (Romney) doesn’t stand for anything. He runs to the left. He runs to the middle. He tries to pretend he’s a conservative. You never know which Romney is going to show up or what he’s going to say,” explained Mark Miner, an adviser to Rick Perry, during an interview in the Times last September.

Moreover, Romney has said in previous Republican debates that he wants to take action now against Iran.

For instance, a New York Times reported noted how Romney told an audience in New Hampshire recently he would be willing to use a "bombardment of some kind" to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.

“If for some reasons they continue down their course of folly toward nuclear ambition, then I would take military action if that’s available to us,” Romney added of his plan for Iran if he becomes president.

North Korea ready for war

Jim Clapper, director of National Intelligence, also told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 31 that the North Korean nuclear weapons program is “a continued threat to global security,” though the program is intended for self-defense.

In turn, Clapper’s assessment states: "We judge that North Korea would consider using nuclear weapons only under narrow circumstances" and "probably would not attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces or territory, unless it perceived its regime to be on the verge of military defeat and risked an irretrievable loss of control."

Moreover, this intelligence expert said “China and Russia remain the key threats to the U.S. in cyber-space, with ‘entities’ in both countries ‘responsible for extensive illicit intrusions into US computer networks and theft of US intellectual property,’ though Iran is also a player.”

Cyber War no game for U.S.

At the same time, Clapper warned of “growing cyber-espionage” by foreign governments against U.S. government and businesses, and said many such intrusions are not being detected.

Also, he said “insider threats” are another category of risk, in which disgruntled employees like accused Army soldier Bradley Manning allegedly leak information to the public or sell it to competing corporations or nations.

“The annual threat assessment looked further afield to places like Afghanistan, where it assessed the Afghan government's progress as fragile, and the Taliban as ‘resilient.’ The group is less able to intimidate the Afghan population that last year, especially in areas where NATO forces are concentrated, but its leaders continue to direct the insurgency from their safe haven in Pakistan,” the report said.

Also, the report added how “the continent of Africa got one of the grimmest reviews. Africa remains vulnerable to political crises, democratic backsliding, and natural disasters. Violence, corruption and terrorism are likely to plague Africa in areas key to U.S. interests, the review said, with unresolved discord between Sudan and South Sudan, continued fighting in Somalia, and extremist attacks in Nigeria.”

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