By Peter Sullivan - 09/25/14 06:57 PM EDT
The FBI and the Pentagon said on Thursday that they did not know exactly how close the Khorasan Group, an al Qaeda offshoot the U.S. bombed in Syria, was to an attack on the U.S.
The Obama administration had previously described the threat as "imminent."
"We don't have complete visibility," Comey said of Syria, but added that "what I could see concerned me very much that they were working toward an attack."
"I don't know that we, you know, can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months. It doesn't matter," Kirby said.
"I mean, so we can have this debate about, you know, whether it was valid to hit them or not or whether it was too soon or too late," Kirby later added. "We hit them. And I don't think, you know, we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes."
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Tuesday that the attack was "imminent." When asked how imminent, he said he would not get into "specific details of plotting."
Comey said on Thursday: "I don't know exactly what that word means."
"In this business, given the nature of the people involved, and what we could see, we assumed and acted as if [the attack would come] tomorrow," he added.
Kirby said that he did not want to get into too much detail, but said: "What I'll tell you is, they were in the advanced stages, near the end stages of planning an attack on a Western target. We don't know whether it was in Europe or the U.S. homeland, but we know that they were getting close."