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.”