Is al Qaeda on the ‘Path to Defeat?’ Clapper, ‘No’; DHS Chief, ‘Yes’

February 12, 2014 - 3:47 PM

Jeh Johnson

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center on Feb. 7, 2014. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – In less than one week, top officials in the Obama administration have contradicted one another about the threat al Qaeda poses to the United States today.

On Friday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center is Washington, D.C., where he credited President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama for putting the terrorist group “on the path to defeat.”

“Through our government's counterterrorism efforts in both the Bush and Obama administrations, we have put al Qaeda's core leadership on the path to defeat,” Johnson said.

On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “No,” when asked by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing if al Qaeda was “on the path to defeat.”

“No, it is morphing and franchising itself, not only here, but in other areas of the world,” Clapper said.

Johnson noted that al Qaeda has “evolved,” adding that the federal government must keep the threat at bay.

“But the threat has evolved,” Johnson said. “Since about 2009, we saw the rise of al Qaeda affiliates, such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has made repeated efforts to export terrorism to our homeland.

“Our government, working with others, must continually deny these affiliates a safe haven, a place to hide, train and from which to launch terrorist attacks,” he added.

At the Senate hearing, Inhofe said, “I keep hearing these things that different people in the administration is talking about al Qaeda is on the run, on the path to defeat.

“If you look at this chart up here, it depicts that al Qaeda and its allies have a presence and are now operating, and to me it's just the opposite of that,” Inhofe added.

“Yes or no each one of you, is al Qaeda on the run and on the path to defeat?” Inhofe asked, referring to the second witness, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“No, it is morphing and franchising itself, not only here but in other areas of the world,” Clapper said.

“They are not,” Flynn said.