Top Republican on Homeland Security Panel Praises Friday’s Threat Response

Posted October 31, 2010 at 12:26pm

Updated: 4:16 p.m.

Rep. Peter King, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, applauded the Obama administration Sunday for “perfectly” handling last week’s terrorist threat.

“They received actionable intelligence. They shared it with their allies. They did what had to be done,” the New York Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

He later added: “So everything was done right. And they continue to do it right. And I give them full credit.”

Two improvised explosive devices were found Friday on cargo planes in Britain and the United Arab Emirates. The devices were in packages shipped from Yemen and were addressed to Chicago locations that have been associated with synagogues. King said he believes Yemen is “the new major battleground in the war against terrorism.”

President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, made the rounds on the Sunday news shows, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” “Face the Nation, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week.”

He said he has no knowledge of anyone claiming responsibility for the explosives, but he identified al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as a likely party. “It certainly bears all of the hallmarks of AQAP,” he said on CNN, adding that the administration believes the group was behind a plot to bomb a jet over the United States on Dec. 25, 2009.

Brennan said the devices were self-contained and appeared designed for in-flight detonation. He said the investigation is ongoing. “They were destined for a particular location in the United States and Chicago, but it appears as though they had the capability to be detonated on board that aircraft, and they could have brought those planes down,” he said on CNN.

He said Yemeni officials have arrested two women whom they believe brought the packages to FedEx and UPS locations in Sana’a. But one woman was released on bail Sunday, and Yemeni officials no longer consider her a suspect, the Associated Press reported Sunday afternoon, citing an anonymous Yemeni official.

“But clearly, the sophistication of this device requires I think a number of people who are involved,” he continued on CBS. “We are concerned about individuals in Yemen who have very proficient bomb-making capabilities who are very dangerous. So I do think that there are a number of individuals who are responsible for putting this plot together.”

He suggested that stricter cargo screening procedures might be necessary. “We’re not presuming that we have found all of the devices that are out there,” he said on CBS. “And I think prudence tells us to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to screen cargo that might be coming from that part of the world even more rigorously than we have. And we currently have put a hold on any cargo that is coming to the United States that originated in Yemen.”