The White House refused Monday to rule out the possibility that the threat of an imminent terrorist attacks might extend to U.S. soil.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said intelligence reports of a planned attack are centered on the Arabian peninsula but "could potentially be beyond that or elsewhere."
"We cannot be more specific," he said, declining several times to rule out U.S. territory as a possible target.
The State Department has announced it is closing about 20 U.S. diplomatic facilities this week, based on specific and credible threats picked up by intelligence agencies.
Mr. Carney rejected the assertion that President Obama and his top aides have misled the public by stating repeatedly that Al Qaeda is "on the path to defeat."
"There is no question that Al Qaeda's core over the past several years has been diminished," he said. "We have been very clear that the threat from Al Qaeda very much remains."
The current reports of a planned attack are focused on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of the group founded by Osama bin Laden.
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