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Although the campaign against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue with “energy, focus, creativity and dedication for quite a while,” Mr. Petraeus said, operations against its affiliates elsewhere would rely on the cooperation of U.S. allies.

“Working with our local partners to cooperate against these affiliates will continue to be crucial to the success of our overall efforts,” he said.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence (DNI), raised what he called “the inevitability of budget cuts in the intelligence community,” referring to the sprawling collection of 16 agencies of which he is the titular head.

“I don’t want anyone to be under the mistaken impression that we are going to sustain all the [intelligence] capabilities we have today, because we’re not,” he said.

However, he added, “everything we do in intelligence is not of equal merit” and his job will be to set priorities.

“We have to be rather cold-hearted and objective about the real contribution the various systems make,” he said. “So that’s kind of the approach we’re going to take.”

He called the process “a litmus test for this [DNI] office, to preside over these inevitable cuts that we’re going to have to make.”

“I am reasonably confident that we can come through this without a great deal of harm,” he added.

Mr. Petraeus said the CIA inspector-general had begun an internal investigation into the agency’s close cooperation with New York police in undercover operations in the city’s Muslim community after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The operations involved surveillance at more than 250 mosques and Islamic student groups.

Mr. Petraeus told lawmakers that the investigation opened before he took office, at the request of acting director Michael Morell. The agency wants “to make sure we are doing the right thing,” he said.

The CIA is barred by presidential order from collecting intelligence about Americans.