QUESTION: President Bush has said in the past that the war on terror has greatly hampered al-Qaida's ability to communicate within its network. What does it say that now you believe that the chatter is at a greater point than any time since 9/11?I think the President's assessment is correct? Great Whomping Jeebus, man, you've just been giving a briefing that says that the President's assessment is...how shall we put it?...not consonant with reality. This is like genuflecting or something. It's reflex. It's like there's an implant back in the lizard brain that you have to get to work in the administration that makes you say things like that. I mean, it's nice an all that he can list all these accomplishments, but in the final result -- at least outside of Bizarro World -- if there's more chatter going on, then we haven't actually hampered their ability to communicate, now have we?
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, first of all, I think the President's assessment is correct. I mean, we've decapitated or imprisoned from one-half to two-thirds of the known leadership. We have literally taken off the table for their use probably a couple hundred million dollars by freezing those assets. Those that were in leadership have been dispersed so the communication is more difficult.
So, in reality, all those -- that may be the reason that it has been so long -- I'm not going to speculate, but remember, we haven't raised this level of alert for over a half a year.
But make no mistake about it, the President has said this is -- we have to be into this -- we are in this for the long term, that in spite of the extraordinary success of the military and the CIA, the cooperation with our allies, the apprehension or death of a lot of the principals and the freezing the assets, this is still an international war, international terrorist cells including al-Qaida, and the fact that we are picking up information that results in us going to Orange, I think is a reflection of increased capacity, probably on our side, not necessarily greater ability on theirs.