ABC News’ Karen Travers Reports In his remarks at the Coast Guard Academy graduation on Wednesday, President Bush will discuss recent intelligence that asserts that Osama bin Laden commissioned a terror cell to be set up in Iraq to plan and launch attacks against the United States.
He will say that in 2005 Osama bin Laden tasked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to go to Iraq to set up terror cells that would plan and plot attacks against the U.S. and other countries. Suspected terrorists captured or killed in the last 18 months have provided this intelligence but a White House official would not say if they were all captured or killed in Iraq.
A White House official told ABC News Tuesday evening that the President is often asked how the administration can say that Al Qaeda wants to use Iraq as a base to launch attacks. This official said the administration points to Al Qaeda’s public statements but this intelligence will explain further why the President says that was Al Qaeda’s intention in Iraq. The President often says if the U.S. does not defeat the terrorists in Iraq, they will come to the United States – he will make this point tomorrow and show how this intelligence supports that statement.
WHY DECLASSIFY THIS INTELLIGENCE NOW? A White House official said that some investigations where they have gleaned this intel have "run their course" and they have every reason to believe that Al Qaeda remains committed to using Iraq as a base for planning attacks.
WHY THIS SPEECH WEDNESDAY? The President is using the commencement address for this announcement because the Coast Guard is involved in protecting the homeland, is present in the Persian Gulf and in the waters around Guantanamo Bay and the President will use this opportunity there to talk more about homeland security.
The President will also discuss the importance of the Coast Guard in protecting America and talk about the homeland security measures the U.S. has taken to prevent another attack here.