Al-Qaeda is "near strategic defeat" in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and the tide is turning against it elsewhere, CIA chief Michael Hayden says in a surprisingly upbeat Washington Post interview today. In contrast to a reports of an al-Qaeda resurgence a year ago, Hayden now cites “significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally,” as "a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam.” He says the Iraq war is no longer a boon to al-Qaeda recruitment.
Hayden said counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda have been successful, "even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border." But the CIA director also warned against complacency: "Our view is: Safe is hard-won, every 24 hours." He expressed concern that Congress and many in the media are "focused less on the threat and more on the tactics the nation has chosen to deal with the threat." (Read more Michael Hayden stories.)