Transcript for Homeland on Alert Before 9/11 Anniversary
There's a rising hawkish tone in the republican party. Thank you, Jeff. With the 9/11 anniversary this week, law enforcement already on alert. Pierre Thomas is tracking it all from Washington. Reporter: Good morning, George. As the 9/11 anniversary approaches, no specific plot has been identified. But make no mistake, it's an extremely challenging moment for U.S. Intelligence. Dangerous times. There's a lot of moving parts. A lot of things going on. And obviously, that's cause for concern for the intelligence community and for law enforcement as well. Reporter: As the U.S. Bombs Isis radicals in Iraq and contemplates a full-scale assault on the group in Syria, intelligence officials know Isis might try to respond with an attack. As it dominates the headlines, it's far from the only threat U.S. Officials have to deal with. There are a multitude of emerging threats, many of them blowing out of Syria, which has become a melting pot of converging rad dals. We have brothers from all over. There have been two additional threats added since my appointment as commissioner in January. Isis and the Syrian war engagement. Reporter: American officials continue to worry about Yemen bombmakers conspiring with Al qaeda-affiliated radicals in Syria to make bombs that can be smuggled on planes. That threat remains. There is general concern that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are itching to get on the scoreboard, given all the attention that Isis is getting. And then the wild card. Home grown radicals like the Boston marathon bombers who could act out on their own. It's a high level of vigilance. Cities that may not see themselves in the cross hairs are paying extra attention to the issue, certainly during the next week. And Pierre, the anniversary coming up on Thursday. What is your latest Intel from federal officials? Reporter: George, there is likely to be a warning urging vigilance before 9/11. No specific threat has been identified, by authorities are locked in. Let's get more from peter king and Adam smith. Congressman king, let me begin with you. You pretty much agree with Pierre's assessment of the current threat? Ye, George. Yes, George. I'm not aware of any particular threat right now, having said that, especially at this time of the year and considering we have Isis, Al Qaeda, and core Al Qaeda, all of whom have the ability and the goal of attacking the United States. We certainly have to be more vigilant than ever. I would say with core Al Qaeda especially. Isis is getting the headlines. I can see Al Qaeda wanting to get back in the game, if you will, to show they're top in the islamic terrorist world. We have to focus on all. And the home grown threats. Again, the intelligence community is focused, homeland security community is focused. We cannot let our guard down for a second, especially with the anniversary of 9/11 coming up. Congressman smith, there is debate about the scope of the threat. Posed by isi sirks. I was struck by the comments from the head of the national counterterrorism center, Matthew Olson said any threat from Isis is likely to be limited in scope and scale. I think that's correct. I mean, Al Qaeda, particularly in the senior leadership in Pakistan, and in the Arabian peninsula and Yemen, they've been actively plotting attacks against western targets. Attacks we have been able to disrupt. Isis is focused on Iraq and Syria. The real threat from Isis is the foreign fighters that have gone there to fight with them who may then come back. They pose a threat as lone wolfs. Than as sort of any organized plot. There's no evidence that Isis is plotting and planning the way bin laden did for 9/11. Congressman king, we're going to hear the president's new strategy on Wednesday. He's seeming to suggest he has all the authority he needs now to take action, even against Syria. Do you agree with that? Or do you think he should come to congress? As a republican, I do believe the president has the authority the take action in Iraq and Syria against Isis. I believe as a matter of course, it's probably better for him to get congressional approval. Which I would vote for. I don't believe he needs it. If that is going to delay what he wants to do, he should go ahead and take action without waiting for congress. This is too important to get bogged down in congressional debate. If the president does not believe the support is there. If it is there, ideally, he should get it. I believe as commander in chief, he has the absolute power to carry out these attacks. Is the support there and should the president come to congress? It's hard to tell whether or not the support's there. I agree with peter. Under article 2, the president has the authority to confront a national security threat. I do think it would be better if congress authorized it. The devil is in the details. What does the language look like? What would congress actually authorize? I think you would have a deep divide between people worried it would be too much of a blank check, too broad of authority, and others who might worry that it would constrain the president. I think getting the exact language through congress would be extraordinarily difficult. I agree with peter that's what we ought to do. We ought to set the policy that we think the president ought to follow. Finally, for both of you, how much more is it going to take to meet the president's goal to defeat Isis? Congressman king, you first. I believe it will be a sustained national effort. The president, which he's doing more and more, making it clear this is not going to be a short-term proposition. Getting allies on the ground. The Iraqi army has to be in the field doing what it has to do. Plus training and arming the kurds. Congressman smith? Actually, what it is going to take, really, is Sunni allies. That's what's so important about all of this. All the emphasis is on, well the U.S. Should act. If the U.S. Acts without Sunni support in the region, it could strengthen Isis. That's why the patience in Iraq until the Iraqi government replaced Maliki and showed there was some evidence of power sharing made our efforts more effective. If it's just the U.S. Going to war with Isis, we run the risk of strengthening them. We need to find people in the region to lead the fight. Then we, and the international coalition, support them. We'll not be successful unless Sunnis in the region are willing to rise up against Isis and we work with them to be an effective partnership. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
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