President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, took to the airwaves on Sunday to ensure the American people that they are safe from terrorist attacks.
“We’re on the path to al Qaeda’s destruction,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union. “It’s a murderous organization that has killed many. …We are determined to make sure that organization is destroyed.”
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the United States’ assassination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, which was ordered by Obama.
Already, questions have surfaced as to whether Obama is playing politics with the issue, after his campaign aired an ad suggesting that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney might not have made the same decision. Brennan wouldn't go there.
“I don’t do politics. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. What I know is that President Obama made the decision that in fact brought bin Laden to justice,” he said. It was a bold decision because much of the evidence about bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan was circumstantial, he added. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, he called it “a gutsy call.”
Brennan acknowledged on CNN that “we still have work to do” on the counter-terrorism front. He said the U.S. government is working closely with the Pakistan government to ferret out terrorist cells there, and also has a strong presence in Yemen.
“We have reduced significantly their ability to carry out attacks over the homeland,” Brennan said of al Qaeda. “We have taken apart their infrastructure.”
Brennan also wouldn’t be pinned down on when Guantanamo Bay might be closed, as Obama had promised at the beginning of his administration. “We've had some dealings with Congress, and Congress has not made this easy,” he said “I’m hoping one day the people in Guantanamo will no longer be there.”
CNN host Candy Crowley waited until the end of the interview to ask about the Secret Service and whether the recent scandal signals to terrorists that they have a new way to get to the president.
Brennan said the White House took speedy action to address the incident, in which several Secret Service officers allegedly solicited the company of ladies for pay. (Obama joked at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday that he had to get the Secret Service home for their new curfew.)
“I think it’s demonstration to the world that we’re going to take the corrective actions,” Brennan said. “There are not going to be ways to penetrate that security that surrounds the president.”
Brennan said of Fox that though his team has received “no credible reporting” that there’s a retaliatory plot in the works surrounding the anniversary of bin Laden’s death, they’ll be on high alert.
“We are not going to let down our guard and we are going to stay extra vigilant, in fact, during this period of time,” he said.