Brennan: U.S. Is ‘Without a Doubt’ Safer Than on 9/11

BY Larisa Epatko  September 7, 2011 at 3:15 PM EDT

The United States is “without a doubt” safer today than on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, D.C., President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan told the NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.

“This country now has become a much more difficult operational environment for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups,” he said.

Watch his full answer here:

Woodruff also asked Brennan what he thought about the comments of the former co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, who said on the Aug. 31 NewsHour that the United States is safer, but that it’s “inevitable” that there will be another successful terrorist attack on the U.S.

Brennan said: “I don’t say that another attack is inevitable. I like to think that every day we’re going to try to uncover any type of terrorist activity that’s out there and take the steps to thwart any type of planning that might result in an attempted attack.”

On the question of whether al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was planning an attack on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, Brennan said from materials found at bin Laden’s compound secured after his death it was apparent he was looking at the anniversary “as another opportunity to strike at the U.S. homeland.”

“We know that al-Qaida wants to try to hit us here in the homeland again; they have been thwarted numerous times. But it’s not just al-Qaida, there are other groups that have taken up the mantle of al-Qaida. So we are on our vigilance, and we have made a number of preparations.”

On the strength of al-Qaida, Brennan said the core of al-Qaida, in Pakistan, “has taken it on the chin” as a result of U.S. and Pakistani efforts, and has been “degraded significantly over the past couple of years.” But other al-Qaida elements in Yemen, Africa and Iraq are still active and a cause for concern.

View Brennan’s full interview on Wednesday’s NewsHour and read a transcript here. Browse all of our World coverage and follow us on Twitter.