'This Week' Transcript: John Brennan, Reps. Hoekstra, Harman, Sens. Collins, Lieberman

BRENNAN: Yes. This is a very, very dangerous threat that Al Qaida poses to us. We have to take those risks. We have to do it prudently, and that's why we have to learn from the attack, just like the attack on the 25th of December, the attack against the base in Khost. But we need to take those risks, because we're -- we need to be able to find out sort of who these individuals are, what they're planning and what their next steps are.

MORAN: All right, good luck.

BRENNAN: Thank you very much.

MORAN: Thanks very much for joining us.

And now, as our congressional panel takes their seats, we'll have a listen to what the president had to say about stepping up pressure on Al Qaida in Yemen.

MORAN: And, Congresswoman Hoekstra, let me begin with you, since you've just returned from Yemen, what did you learn about specifically the plot against Flight 253, about Al Qaida, and about the Yemeni government's capacity to fight this fight?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think we learned a number of things. As John Brennan just said, this is a real threat. This is an imminent threat that is coming from the Al Qaida Arabian Peninsula area.

The second thing that we've learned is that this is kind of a unique threat coming from this group. Why is it unique? It's unique because the core group of Al Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula is formed by former Gitmo detainees. These are people that were held in Gitmo, have been returned, and have now gone back to the battlefield.

The other element there is the influence of a charismatic, American radical imam. So you've put the Gitmo folks together. You put Awlaki together. These people have moved an attack on the U.S. homeland to their -- to the top of their priority list. So that is the root cause of why we saw the attack at Fort Hood, why we saw the attack on the flight, Flight 253.

The final thing is that, you know, the Yemeni government has limited capacity to deal with returning members from -- from Gitmo and the indigenous Al Qaida element in the country. I think that the increased assistance that we are providing to Yemen is absolutely essential. We need a -- we need this connection between Yemen and America and the Brits if we're going to contain this threat.

The good thing about what John Brennan said this morning, it appears that we are now all on the same page. We recognize the imminent threat. We are committed to enhancing our intelligence capabilities and our offensive capability to deal with this. I think the -- the pressing issue that's going to be coming up over the next few months is, how do we deal with Americans who have joined Al Qaida and are now part of the machine that wants to attack the United States?

MORAN: Homegrown terrorists, it's -- it's the new wave. You raised several issues there. Let me stay on Yemen for a moment.

Senator Lieberman, last week...


MORAN: ... you said that Yemen could be -- could turn into tomorrow's war. Expand on that a little bit. How hot a war are you talking about? Do you foresee American forces? Would you call for American forces in Yemen?

LIEBERMAN: Let -- let me explain the comment. Senator Collins and I, with a few colleagues, were in Yemen in August. And one of our American personnel there said to us -- and I thought quite wisely -- that Iraq is yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war, and if we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war.

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