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Wednesday
May112011

House Intel Chairman: 'Step on the Gas,' 'Break Back' of Al Qaeda

United States House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers, says that with al Qaeda confused and on the run now that its leader Osama bin Laden is dead, now is not the time scale back the intelligence communities presence in the Middle East, but rather the time to “step on the gas” and “break the back” of the terrorist organization.

Rogers, R-Michigan, appeared at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday to warn policy makers against scaling back policies that contributed to the successful elite Special Forces operation that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan May 2.

“Al Qaeda is alive and well. They are hurt, they’re damaged, their inspirational and operational leader has been taken off of the battlefield, which is a huge opportunity for us. The confusion with them is opportunity for us and this is the time to step on the gas and break their back,” Rogers said. “We need to make sure all the policy makers from the executive branch to Congress understand that all of the things that led up to Osama bin Laden have to be a) improved on and b) they need to have the leadership behind them so they can continue to produce the kind of information that will get us [al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman] al-Zawahiri.”

“This is our chance to break the back of al Qaeda,” he added. “It’s no opportunity for us to retreat.”

Rogers said “9/11 was result of what didn’t happen” and pointed to cuts to intelligence services in the 1990s as a critical error in enabling al Qaeda to get stronger and most sophisticated  – two elements that eventually proved to exceed intelligence estimates in the years leading up to the September 11, 2001.

Rogers insisted that now is the “wrong time to back off funding” the intelligence community and said calls from some Members of Congress to cut the nation’s intelligence posture in the wake of Bin Laden’s killing “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The chairman also revealed that CIA Director Leon Panetta told him that if Bin Laden were to be captured alive, the only facility deemed secure enough to cage Public Enemy No. 1 was the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison that President Obama had campaigned to close down.

“The director of the CIA said if we got Bin Laden, he would have to go to Guantanamo Bay because that’s the one facility that not only is protected from  people inside from getting out, but also from outside people getting in,” Rogers said. “We do need to have a place to put [captured high value targets]. If we get Zawahiri off the battlefield, where do you put him?”

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