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Report Confirms Continuing Threat from Al-Qaida

NOAH ADAMS, host.

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Noah Adams.

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

And I'm Deborah Amos.

Coming up, with a U.S. pullback looking more likely, the big questions are when and what happens to Iraqis who helped the U.S.?

ADAMS: But first, the Bush administration has released key findings of a new national intelligence report. It warns of al-Qaida's ongoing efforts to strike at the U.S., other targets around the world, including targets in Iraq.

NPR's Don Gonyea has the report.

DON GONYEA: Administration officials say the National Intelligence Estimate, also called an NIE, lays out just how much of a threat al-Qaida remains almost six years after the attacks of 9/11. Frances Townsend is the top White House advisor to the president on homeland security issues. She spoke to reporters this morning, stating that al-Qaida will continue to attempt visually dramatic mass casualty attacks on the U.S. The NIE also predicts that by working with regional groups, al-Qaida will enhance its capabilities.

Ms. FRANCES TOWNSEND (Homeland Security Advisor): Of most concern is that al-Qaida will try to exploit the conflict in Iraq and leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq, it's most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed the desire to attack the homeland.

GONYEA: Townsend denies that it is the war in Iraq that has led to the strengthening of terror groups, such as al-Qaida. And she insists that even with al-Qaida's resurgence, the group is not as strong as it would have been had the U.S. not confronted terror threats aggressively since 9/11. As for the timing of the report, the White House says it's been in the works for years and insists it was not time to counter the Iraq debate this week on Capitol Hill.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

ADAMS: And later in the program, we'll talk to a former CIA counterterrorism chief about the NIE and its implications. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
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