ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
The top two senators on the Homeland Security Committee today voiced concerns that an individual in the United States might attempt to retaliate for Osama bin Laden’s death.
“I want to reassure everyone that all of our homeland security agencies are alert to those dangers and using every tool that they have to detect and, if necessary, prevent such an attack,” said the panel’s chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. “My own great concern in the days ahead is that a so-called lone wolf, a single individual who has been radicalized, will now mobilize himself or herself to take action here at home against the American people.”
“My appeal to the American people is please be alert,” he added. “This is a classic, ‘if you see something, say something’ moment.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the panel, echoed Lieberman’s fears.
“One of the concerns that I most have is that a home-grown terrorist will choose this moment to strike in an attempt to retaliate for Osama bin Laden’s death,” she said. “And that is why I was particularly pleased that at midnight last night the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the FBI, put out a situational awareness alert which went to state and local law enforcement, homeland security officials across this country, giving them some intelligence information, telling them that they should prepare for an increase in attacks.”
Collins today also questioned how bin Laden could have been living in a massive compound in a Pakistani city with a large military presence, not far from the nation’s capital of Islamabad.
“It’s very difficult for me to understand how this huge compound could be built in a city just an hour north of the capital of Pakistan, in a city that contains military installations including the Pakistani military academy, and that it did not arouse tremendous suspicion, especially since there were no internet or telephone connections and the waste was incinerated and there was barbed wire all around the top of the compound,” she said. “So I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game and that is very troubling to me.”
Lieberman stated that Pakistan must now “prove to us that they didn’t know that bin Laden was there.” Just hours earlier Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had said that Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities have “got a lot of explaining to do.”
On the question of whether or not the Obama administration should release photos of bin Laden to prove to the public that he is dead, Lieberman noted that the photos would be “gruesome,” but said his instinct is to release them anyway.
“Unless there’s an acknowledgement by the people in al Qaeda that bin Laden is dead, it may be necessary to release the pictures – gruesome as they undoubtedly will be because he was shot in the head – to quell any doubts that this somehow is a ruse that the United States government has carried out,” he said. “So my own instinct is it’s necessary to release those pictures, but I will respect whatever decision the president makes.”