Vice-President Joe Biden says the U.S. will likely be hit by terrorist "backpack bombers" in the coming months. Biden made the observation in an interview with CNN's Larry King, which was taped earlier today.
A transcript of Biden's comments is already posted at "The Swamp," a group blog from the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau. Scroll down for the VP's terror prediction, which occurred towards the end of the interview:
KING: Terror -- last week on terrorism, the heads of the major U.S. intelligence agencies told Dianne Feinstein that another attempted terrorist attack on the United States is coming certain in the next few months.
KING: What do you make of that?
BIDEN: Well, look, let me put it this way. The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my view. But if you see what's happening, particularly with al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula, they have decided to move in the direction of much more small bore but devastatingly frightening attacks.
BIDEN: Detroit. But I think what you're seeing morphing here -- and it's a concern to us -- is you'll see the -- the concern relates to somebody like a shoe bomber or the underpants bomber, the Christmas attack or someone just strapping a backpack on them with weapons that are indigenous and blowing up, you know, walking into (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: So that's going to happen?
BIDEN: Well, I -- I think there are going to be an attempts. I hope we've been -- I've been really impressed. As I said, I've been here for eight presidents. I used to be in the Intelligence Committee. I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. It's something I spent my professional life doing. I've been really impressed with the success we've had, building on the last administration, in dealing with these.
Reading the transcript, it seems clear that Mr. Biden was trying to avoid one of his patented "slips of the lip" that might divulge more detailed information. Put another way, it's highly unlikely the Vice-President randomly selected "backpack bombers" as an example of a potential threat.
And when he refers to "someone like a shoe bomber or the underpants bomber," it's a tacit admission that Farouk Abdulmutallab was part of Al Qaida's "next wave." His fellow operatives--trained at the same camps in Yemen--are still out there, probably on American soil and waiting to strike.
The underlying intent of Mr. Biden's comments (along with those of intelligence officials last week) seems clear enough: America is being prepared for a series of near-term attacks against the homeland, strikes that may be impossible to defeat.
Once again, the question: what actionable intelligence was missed--or delayed--because we Mirandized Abdulmutallab after less than an hour of interrogation on Christmas Day?