A tape purporting to be the voice of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden claims respsonsibility for the attempt bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, turning the focus back on terrorism for President Barack Obama just days before his first State of the Union speech.

Key White House advisers said Sunday that the U.S. government has not "authenticated" the audiotape. 

On CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said, "Nor can we confirm the authenticity of the tape, but assuming that it is him his message contains the same hollow justification for the mass slaughter of innocents that we have heard before."


White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, appearing on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace, told the morning talk show host that "nobody's had a chance to authenticate that tape."

"I think everybody in this world understands that this is somebody that has to pop up in our lives over an audiotape because he's nothing but a cowardly, murderous thug and terrorist that will someday, hopefully soon, be brought to justice," Gibbs said.

"The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero Omar Farouk [Abdulmutallab], reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you and it was repeated frequently," says the tape obtained and released by Al-Jazeera, which begins with a salutation "from Osama to Obama."

"If our messages could be carried to you by words we wouldn't have done that by planes," the voice claiming to be bin Laden says.

The short audio tape (listen here) ties the attacks to the situation in the Mideast.

"America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly," bin Laden says. "Therefore, with God's will, our attacks on you will continue as long as you continue to support Israel."

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, on NBC's "Meet the Press," also said that the U.S. has "no independent confirmation that that is in fact his voice."

Further, the government has "no independent verification" that bin Laden is in command and control of al Qaeda," but, she said "we are going to go after al-Qaeda and its affiliates and certainly him for the atrocities of the past."

On CBS' "Face the Nation," Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE (R-Ariz.) said the tape showed that bin Laden "is still a motivating force" for jihadists and "we have to stay after him."

McCain added that the tape gives weight to Republican arguments that Abdulmutallab shouldn't have been put in the civilian courts system, saying it could now be "almost impossible" to flesh out the full extent of the bombing suspect's ties to the al-Qaeda organization.

"He was cooperating until he got a lawyer," McCain said.

Gibbs dodged questions as to how the administration handled the detention and interogation of the would-be terrorist bomber Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian native, who was charged in the criminal legal system as opposed to going into the military court system.

Asked on Fox about whether Obama was informed of the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant instead of an enemy combatant, Gibbs responded "the decision was made by the Justice Department and FBI. ... Make no mistake, Abdulmutallab was interrogated and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation."

FBI Director Robert Mueller testified last week that interrogators briefly interviewed Abdulmutallab "to gain intelligence, intelligence about whether there's another bomb, whether other coconspirators, where'd he get the bomb, all of that information" before the bombing suspect was Mirandized.

"It had to be done very quickly because of the fact that he had been injured, was in a hospital, and the window of opportunity to do this had to be undertaken very quickly," Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This post was updated at 1 p.m.

Jordan Fabian contributed to this report