May 25, 2017 / 12:09 AM / 2 months ago

U.S. can handle worsening terror threat - ex White House adviser

3 Min Read

Richard A. Clarke, a former U.S. counterterrorism official at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 19, 2010.Christian Charisius (GERMANY)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Even as terrorists grow more brazen, now even striking arenas packed with teenage music fans, improvements in counterterrorism technology and government preparedness make Americans safer than at any time since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, veteran U.S. counterterrorism expert Richard A. Clarke said.

Speaking in the Reuters Global Markets Forum chatroom, Clarke said rising ocean levels and improvements in computers are likely greater risks to Americans' well-being than terrorism.

Clarke and R.P. Eddy, a former diplomat and chief executive of intelligence firm Ergo, recently wrote "Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes," a book on avoiding and mitigating damage from catastrophes.

The following are edited excerpts from the conversation:

Question: Is America safer from such things as the recent worldwide cyber attacks and suicide bomber in Britain than when you left the government, after serving three presidents?

Answer: The U.S. is safer than when I left government in 2003 but in many ways the threats are worse. ISIS is far more capable than al Qaeda was. Cyber threats are vastly more sophisticated than they were just five years ago.

Q: What is your assessment of the current national security/counterterrorism operation in the White House? It seems in turmoil from the outside.

A: The president does make things look like they are in turmoil, but below him there are national security professionals still doing the job.

Q: (Are there) people you have confidence in from personal experience?

A: Yes. The national security adviser, the secretary of defence, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center are all career national security managers with excellent track records. The system is disrupted when the president verbally attacks the FBI and CIA, but the professionals soldier on.

This interview was conducted in the Reuters Global Markets Forum, a chat room hosted on the Eikon platform. For details, follow this link: here

Reporting By Michael Connor in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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