U.S. President Barack Obama says America is making real progress in the fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Members of the intelligence community deserve the nation's thanks.
The president went to a place where all the counterterrorism intelligence obtained by the U.S. government comes together, the National Counterterrorism Center.
It is here, in a complex just outside Washington, that analysts synthesize information obtained by the 16 federal intelligence agencies, as well as local and state law enforcement.
Usually, the analysts at the center work in obscurity. But the president went there to shine a spotlight on their work, and its impact on America's national security. "I want every American to know about the difference you've made, especially in recent months and days. Because of you, and all the organizations you represent, we're making real progress in our core mission: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and other extremists' networks around the world," he said.
President Obama noted he is a regular consumer of the center's work, a reference to the intelligence briefings he receives on an almost daily basis.
In recent months, those briefings have provided him with information from the Counterterrorism Center on the activities of a suspected terrorist in Colorado, Najibullah Zazi. "You watched for signs. You stitched together the intelligence. You worked together, across organizations as a team. And then - arrests in Denver and New York, and still more in Illinois and Texas, have made us safer," he said.
This was the president's first visit to the National Counterterrorism Center, which was launched after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. At the time, there was concern that the anti-terrorism work of the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. was too fragmented. The idea behind the center was to coordinate and streamline the flow of information to decision-makers, and better protect the public.
President Obama said the experiment has worked. "You are showing us what focused and integrated counterterrorism really looks like. And the record of your service is written in the attacks that never occur because you thwarted them, and in the countless Americans who are alive today because you saved them," he said.
The president said no one can promise there will never be another attack on American soil. But he said he can promise that he will provide the center with all the resources it needs to protect lives around the world and at home.