Thompson chastises Chertoff for ‘gut feeling’ terror comment

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff’s remarks about an impending terrorist attack “awful.”

Chertoff said this week that he had a “gut feeling” the United States faced a higher risk of attack this summer.

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Thompson said Chertoff’s comments were not based on informed “measurements.”

“That’s not the standard that is in place in this arena,” Thompson said, although he demurred when asked if Chertoff should be fired.

“He’s been chastised,” Thompson said.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), ranking member on the homeland security panel, defended Chertoff yesterday.

During an interview on MSNBC, King said, “Chairman Thompson and I have received the same intelligence briefings. The fact is there is a concern out there in the intelligence community. They’re picking up what we call chatter or noise. There is activity. But there’s no specific threat.

“So where we are is we’re very concerned that something could be happening and we don’t know what it is. And this is similar to what was seen in the summer of 2001.”

Directly addressing Chertoff’s “gut feeling” comment, King said, “[This] is a feeling and a belief that’s shared by almost everybody in the intelligence community, that something could happen.”