- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2008


President Bush on Thursday said he is concerned that al Qaeda will try to test the incoming Obama administration with a terror attack on U.S. soil, and said he will meet with the president-elect Monday to talk about homeland defense and the economy.

Terrorists, the president said, “would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people.”

White House press secretary Dana Perino stressed that the U.S. government has no specific intelligence of any imminent attacks.

“I don’t know anything specific, but we do know this a heightened period of concern,” Mrs. Perino said. “We know that al Qaeda and others try to test a new administration.”

“That is something that we’re very concerned about. We’ve seen that in other countries,” Mrs. Perino said, mentioning the example of a 2004 bombing in Madrid, Spain that killed 191 people.

That bombing, however, was committed just before national elections in an attempt to influence the outcome, by what authorities deemed to be terrorists trying to imitate al Qaeda.

But Mr. Bush, speaking to more than 1,000 executive branch employees from across the federal government on the South Lawn, said the terrorist threat is a main reason that “all of must ensure that the next president and his team can hit the ground running.”

President-elect Obama was set to receive his first full intelligence briefing Thursday, a readout that President Bush is given six days a week.

In other news, Mrs. Perino said the Bush administration has given up on an Israeli-Palestinian peace process by the end of the year.

She added, however, that talks launched by the administration at the Annapolis Conference one year ago “laid some very good groundwork” for future talks.

“We realize that with the political changes that have happened in Israel over the last couple of months, the prospect of being able to get one done became unlikely,” Mrs. Perino said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was forced to announce his resignation in July because of a corruption probe, although he continues as caretaker prime minister until new elections can be held in February.

The White House also announced that an Army brigade stationed in Baghdad will return home two months early this month.

“U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the 101st Airborne Division, currently serving in Baghdad will redeploy to Fort Campbell, Ky, in November,” Mrs. Perino said. “So they’ll be home before the holidays. They were originally on a 15-month tour. That has been reduced to 13 months and I’m sure those soldiers and families are excited.”



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