Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday,” ”I think that the prospects of a future attack on the U.S. are almost a certainty.”
“It could happen tomorrow, it could happen next week, it could happen next year, but they will keep trying. And we have to be prepared.”
The vice president said it has been difficult for the U.S. to respond to intelligence indicating possible al-Qaida attacks since the information lacked specifics, but he said the American government would do everything possible to prevent the strikes.
Cheney’s comments came as he defended the Bush administration’s handling of threat warnings ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks that indicated Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization may have been planning a major operation.
The vice president admitted that the U.S. intelligence agencies did little to coordinate separate reports of terrorist activity, but even if the alerts had been coordinated they would not have provided enough detail to prevent the attacks.
“There’s no question that there were failures,” Cheney said. “But I can’t say at this point that even if we had all those pieces together that it would have led to the conclusion that they were going to hit the Trade Center, the Pentagon, et cetera.”
On Monday, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a meeting of the National Association of District Attorneys that, “there will be another terrorist attack. We will not be able to stop it. It’s something we all live with.”
Asked about those attacks taking the form of individual suicide bombers like those in Israel, Mueller said, “I think we will see that in the future, I think it’s inevitable.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla.) reiterated Cheney’s warning on Monday, saying the U.S. needed to be vigilant against a series of groups that could launch attacks against Americans within the U.S. or abroad.
“Our enemy is not al-Qaida alone,” Graham told NBC’s “Today” show. “There are several international terrorist groups which have abilities, in some cases greater abilities than al-Qaida and a similar desire to attack the United States.”
Graham indicated that groups like the Lebanon-based Hizbollah and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad possessed the organization and capabilities to launch strikes against American targets.