Speaking today at his Senate confirmation hearing, top Obama Administration aide and would-be director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen insisted today that al-Qaeda is “in many ways weakened” and is now on the defensive, even though it remains a “significant and present danger.”
Olsen is set to replace Michael Leiter, but his nomination is facing a bumpy road as Rep. Frank Wolf (R – VA) is accusing him of misleading Congress during his tenure as general counsel for the National Security Agency.
Olsen’s claims about al-Qaeda might prove another bone of contention, however, as the State Department has issued a new warning which is in direct contradiction to his claims, warning Americans worldwide to remain “vigilant” and even saying that in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death the risk of al-Qaeda attack is actually on the rise.
Of course claims of al-Qaeda being on its heels are nothing new, and officials have been making similar claims for nearly 10 years now. Since then, of course, these claims are always intersperced with claims of a growing threat justifying some escalation or other. It is simply rare to see both appearing on the same day.