Former CIA Chief Says US Faces ‘Serious Threat’ of Terrorist Attack

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said there is a ‘particular vulnerability’ along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Former CIA Chief Says US Faces ‘Serious Threat’ of Terrorist Attack
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee in Washington on April 2, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

A former CIA director wrote that the United States could face a “serious threat” of a terror attack in the “months ahead,” citing the situation along the U.S.–Mexico border and developments in the Middle East.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who headed the intelligence agency under the Obama administration, warned that there is a “particular vulnerability” at the southern border that could lead to the possibility of a terrorist attack. He delivered the warning in a Foreign Affairs article co-written with Graham Allison, the former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans during the Clinton administration.

Although the pair praised President Joe Biden for issuing an executive order earlier in June to curb asylum processing at the U.S–Mexico border, they cautioned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reporting about 200,000 encounters with people who illegally entered the United States each month this year.

It means that the federal border agencies “will need to take additional action—including the use of national emergency authorities—to ensure that terrorists are not exploiting this overwhelmed channel to enter the country,” the two former officials warned.

“Last year, hundreds of individuals on the United States’ terrorist watch list attempted to enter the country via the southern border,” the pair continued. “It is not difficult to imagine a person, or even a group, with the intent to do harm slipping across a border” before purchasing weapons and carrying out a “large massacre.”

The article made frequent references to statements made by FBI Director Christopher Wray in recent months during both House and Senate hearings, although he was delivering those warnings in the context of trying to secure more funding for his bureau and to pass a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) earlier this year.

On June 4, the FBI director told a Senate panel that the agency has seen a rise in the “threat from foreign terrorists” after the Oct. 7, 2023, attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel.

Before October, “there was already a heightened risk of violence in the United States,” Mr. Wray said. “Since then, we’ve seen a rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies. Given those calls for action, our most immediate concern has been that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home.”

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) delivered a similar warning about terrorists entering into the United States via Mexico, asserting that Americans are facing the “highest level” of a possible terror attack.

Mr. Turner told CBS News on Sunday the threats are “no longer speculative” and “no longer hypothetical,” while saying that the Biden administration’s previous border policies have led to the current situation.

“We have actual administration officials stepping forward and certainly our committee and our committee members have concurred on the intelligence that we’re seeing,” Mr. Turner said. “That as a result of the administration’s policies allowing people to cross the border unvetted, we have terrorists that are actively working … inside the United States that are a threat to Americans.”

Biden Executive Order

Earlier in June, President Biden signed a measure that broadly instituted an asylum ban on people caught illegally crossing the U.S.–Mexico border once 2,500 had entered per day for seven days. The move was considered a major enforcement move just months ahead of the November presidential election. He also criticized Republicans for what he said were attempts to stymie an immigration and border bill that stalled in Congress earlier this year.

“These actions will be in effect when high levels of encounters at the Southern Border exceed our ability to deliver timely consequences, as is the case today,” said the White House. “They will make it easier for immigration officers to remove those without a lawful basis to remain and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents.”

On Tuesday, he announced an executive action that would shield certain illegal immigrants who are spouses of U.S. citizens from being deported and allow them to work in the United States as they attempt to gain citizenship.
Polls taken this year have suggested that voters have a largely unfavorable view of how his administration has handled the border. In late March, an AP-NORC survey found that 68 percent of Americans disapprove of how the border is being handled, while a Harvard poll in February found that 44 percent of respondents view the border as President Biden’s biggest lack of success.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: