Contrary to the President, Intel Leaders Say Al-Qaeda is Not on the Path to Defeat

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Yesterday, in a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing titled “Current and Future Worldwide Threats,” Senator Jim Inhofe, ranking member of SASC, questioned Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Defense Intelligence Agency Director  Lt. Gen.Michael Flynn on the proliferationof Al-Qaeda. Both of President Obama's advisors stated on the record that Al-Qaeda is not on the path to defeat, directly contradicting what President Obama has been telling the American people.

INHOFE: "Yes or no answer from each one of you; is Al-Qaeda on the run and on the path to defeat?"

CLAPPER: "No, it is morphing and franchising itself, not only here but in other areas of the world.”

FLYNN: "They are not.” 

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Why is this important? During the President Obama's reelection effort, he told the American people at numerous campaign events that al-Qaeda "is on the path to defeat." The attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, proved otherwise. As Inhofe told the Lars Larson Radio show last night,"It all goes back to Benghazi. It all happened right before the election… That is what he was saying about six weeks before the election. He had been saying that my Middle Eastern policies have worked and we are now shifting to the Pacific rim. And of course that was not true then, or today." Inhofe went on to say, "Susan Rice was sent to the American public to lie for political purposes. Four people died… Let us not forget this." 

Quotes from President Obama saying otherwise:

  • New Hampshire Campaign rally - Oct. 17, 2012: " I said we’d refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and we have. And today, a new tower rises above the New York skyline, and Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead."
  • Wisconsin campaign rally - Nov. 1, 2012: “The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead. So we’ve made real progress these past four years.”
  • Camp Pendleton in California - Aug. 7, 2013: Speaking to Marines at Camp Pendleton in California, President Obama said “The core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the way to defeat. We are going to make sure that Afghanistan is never again a source of attacks against our country.”
  • Washington, D.C. Veterans Day speech - Nov. 11, 2013: "Today we can say because of their heroic service, the core of Al-Qaeda is on the path of defeat.” 

ICYMI: Intelligence Leaders: Al-Qaida Is Not on Path to Defeat

By Sara Sorcher, Published February 11, 2014

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Al-Qaida is not on the run, and after being hunted for two decades it is not on the path to defeat. That's the sobering message from two top intelligence leaders, National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn during a Senate Armed Services committee hearing Tuesday.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., hearkened back to past comments from the Obama administration about the impending defeat, or at least decline, of the terrorist network. "People keep talking about [how] al-Qaida is on the run, on the path to defeat.... To me it's just the opposite of that," the committee's ranking member said. "Is al-Qaida on the run, and on the path to defeat?"

"No," Clapper replied."It is morphing and franchising itself, not only here but in other areas of the world."

"They are not," Flynn confirmed.

President Obama has indeed said that core al-Qaida leadership is on the run—and touted how the U.S., under his leadership, conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

Obama has also acknowledged the threat grows more complicated as al-Qaida franchises take hold in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and other hot spots. "While we have put al-Qaida's core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al-Qaida affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world," Obama said in his State of the Union address.

In a recent hearing on global threats, Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee that America's ability to understand the terrorist threat has improved over the last decade, but that the network's dispersion makes extremists harder to detect. "I can't say that the threat is any less," Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee in late January.