- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

John Brennan, the White House’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said Wednesday that U.S. officials are increasing travel security for the holiday season — including the use of more imaging devices — to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

“As we enter the peak of the Christmas holiday season, [the federal government] is doing everything to prevent terrorists from carrying out cowardly attacks,” Mr. Brennan said at a White House press briefing.

He said the “accelerated deployment of advanced-imaging technology” was related to concerns about possible al Qaeda attacks in Europe and was not the result of a specific threat in the United States or elsewhere. He did not say whether the image scanners would go to airports for passenger screening.

“This is what the president has directed; this is what the American people deserve,” Mr. Brennan said.

He also defended Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who on Tuesday, during a TV interview taped a day earlier, appeared to be unaware of the arrests of 12 men allegedly involved in an al-Qaeda-related plot to blow up targets in Great Britain.

“He should have been briefed by staff,” Mr. Brennan said, “but I’m glad Jim Clapper is not sitting in front of his TV and is focused on terrorists.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to say whether police searches of riders’ bags on the Washington-area’s Metro subway system is part of the enhanced security efforts.

“I don’t want to talk about specifics,” he said.