With a conference call, al-Qaida has effectively shut down 20 U.S. embassies around northern Africa and the Middle East, veteran journalist Ted Koppel says.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Koppel accused the United States of overreacting to intelligence that al-Qaida leaders are planning a major attack.
"The terrorists have achieved more with one phone call than we have achieved in all our response," Koppel said.
"We have done this to ourselves," Koppel said of the U.S. reaction to the threat. Terrorism has existed for as long as human history, he said, and it should not be allowed to give it's proponents the power they seek.
"Terrorism is simply the weapon by which the weak engage the strong," he said. "And what they do is they cause the strong, in this case us, to overreact."
But Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, disagreed. As chairman, he said he sees the same threat briefings as President Barack Obama, and the threat is real.
He did accuse the president, however of not being forthright with the public. "I'm not seeing his rhetoric is meeting reality," McCaul said.
Obama has failed to explain the value of the National Security Agency programs that capture virtually all electronic communications between Americans, but are intended only to spy on terrorists, McCaul said.
"He has not adequately explained them or defended them, and now he's in a bit of a mess," he said. In a time when people don't trust the administration with their tax records, they don't trust them with their phone records either, McCaul said.
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