Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, warned Americans on Monday to be vigilant against homegrown radicals who may improvise attacks in response to Osama Bin Laden’s death.
“My own great concern in the days ahead is that a so-called ‘lone wolf,’ a single individual who has been radicalized, will now mobilize himself or herself to take action here at home against the American people,” he said at a press conference with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to discuss the Bin Laden raid.
While the threat level has not been raised as there is no specific evidence of any credible threats, Lieberman said that he was concerned Bin Laden’s demise could inspire an attack along the lines of the Ft. Hood massacre, in which a radicalized individual soldier killed 13 people. He urged Americans to be especially vigilant in reporting any leads to authorities in the coming days.
“This is a classic ‘If you see something, say something’ moment,” he said. “If you see suspicious behavior, call the police immediately — and that includes if you see suspicious behavior by someone who is a friend or family member.”
Lieberman and Collins praised President Obama for his work in overseeing the attack on Bin Laden’s compound and cited the operation as a model success for the massive reorganization of homeland security, intelligence gathering services, and defense that occurred in the wake of 9/11 to help streamline communication between them.
“What happened yesterday was in some sense the exact opposite of the mistakes and failure to cooperate that led to the 9/11 attacks against the United States,” Lieberman said.
Both had tough words for Pakistan, whose government is under harsh scrutiny after Bin Laden’s hideout was revealed to be a large compound outside a major city. Collins suggested that she was deeply suspicious of whether elements within the government had foreknowledge of Al Qaeda’s presence in the area.
“It’s very difficult for me to understand how this huge compound could be built in a city just an hour north of the capital of Pakistan in a city that contained military installations, including the Pakistani military academy, and that it did not arouse tremendous suspicion,” she said. “Especially since there were no internet or telephone connections and the waste was incinerated and there was barbed wire all around the top of the compound.”
Collins added: “I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game and that’s very troubling to me.”
Lieberman also said there were “questions raised” by the operation as to whether Pakistani intelligence officials knew more than they let on regarding Bin Laden. He described US-Pakistani affairs is perhaps “the most complicated security/intelligence relationship we have with any country in the world,” noting that despite such serious concerns, Pakistani officials still provided valuable intelligence.
Collins suggested that more strings needed to be attached to military aid to the country in order to “keep the pressure on Pakistan.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.