On denials that a federal government warning that a Pakistani Taliban operative may be in the U.S. is in any way related to election-year politics:
I believe them now and I believed them in the Bush years when, when you had an alert near an election, people would accuse the administration of ginning up the threat so that it would help itself in elections. Those are always truly cynical attacks and disgraceful attacks.
I think when you hear these threats, you take them as they are — real questions in the minds of people who are tracking this.
I think what’s really interesting here is how al-Qaeda has changed and its affiliates have changed over the years. There was always a question in the middle of the last decade, why were there no attacks after 9/11? Remember, [after] 9/11, people had said well, there’s going be an attack in six months or at least a year, and there wasn’t any.
And I think in part it was probably the pride of al-Qaeda. All of their attacks had been spectacular, increasing in scope – like Tanzania and Kenya first, the attack on the Cole and then of course 9/11. And it would have been a comedown to just have an attack on a restaurant.
I think al-Qaeda has reconsidered. Our defenses are hardened, our alert is up higher. They are prepared to do these smaller attacks, but it will cause chaos, mayhem [nonetheless]. And they also [are] looking at using either Americans or naturalized Americans or people who blend in rather than outside attackers as in 9/11. Harder to detect, not as spectacular but it can have a remarkable effect on the country.