Transcript: Sen. Dan Coats’s Q&A on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director

Transcribed & edited by Jenny Jiang

Partial transcript of Sen. Dan Coats’s Q&A on the nomination of White
House Counter-Terrorism Adviser John Brennan as the next CIA Director.
The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was held on Feb. 7, 2013:

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.):
You said – I don’t have the date – that Al Qaeda’s core has been decimated in the Fatah, and we’re aware of the significant efforts we’ve made and the progress we’ve made in that regard. But we this thing metastasizing now across Northern Africa and other parts. What’s your latest assessment of Al Qaeda in terms of its control in operation of these smaller efforts that are popping up like a whack-a-mole machine in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa?

John Brennan:
Senator, you used the exact right term when you said that Al Qaeda has been metastasizing in different parts of the world. We have the Al Qaeda core that in the past, I think, exerted quite a bit of orchestration and effort over a number of these franchises that developed. Now, as a result of the decimation of the core and our ability to interrupt a lot of the interactions and communications between them, a lot of these elements like Al Qaeda in the Peninsula, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – other elements have grown up and developed as a result of the domestic and local environment, and so they’re all sort of unique and to themselves – they have different features and characteristics. We need to make sure that we’re able to work with the governments and the intelligence security services in the area so that we can put as much pressure on them as possible.

A number of them, you know, have local agendas. Some of them have local agendas as well as international agendas. Al Qaeda in the Peninsula in Yemen has a very determined insurgency effort underway inside of Yemen to try to bring that government down; the government has done a great job fighting back. There are other elements – Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – they’re narcotic smugglers, they’re human traffickers, they get involved quite a bit with kidnapping and ransoms and also involved in terrorist attacks.

So what we need to do is to take into account what the environment is, who we can work with, how we’re going to put pressure on them. But any element that is associated with Al Qaeda has, a part of its agenda, death and destruction. And so, I fully agree that what we need to do is to be mindful of this metastasization of the Al Qaeda cancer.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.):
But in relationship with some kind of centralized control over all these things?

John Brennan:
Having said that the core is decimated – it really varies. We do see Al Qaeda core trying to exert some control over some of these elements. There’s a lot of independence of effort and autonomous efforts that are underway…


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