Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller told CNN Thursday that he believes the nature of terror threats has changed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but that increased information-sharing between government agencies has made it possible to better thwart those attacks.
"After September 11th, you had core al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan with (Osama) bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed. You have al Qaeda growing in countries like Somalia, but most particularly in Yemen," he said, according to CNN's transcript of the interview. "And now you have the countries in the Arab Spring ... where they're breeding grounds for radical extremists who may not stay there, but may present an attack."
"Finally, you have, within the United States, the growth of homegrown, radicalized extremists who are radicalized on the Internet and then get their instructions for developing explosives on the Internet, as well," he continued.
Mueller further rejected that notion that National Security Agency surveillance programs, which he previously said could have prevented the 9/11 attacks, create a "Big Brother" presence that violates civil liberties.
"I would query about what do you mean in terms of civil liberties. ... Do we exchange information in ways we did not before? Absolutely," he told CNN. "You can say that that to the extent that you exchange information between CIA, FBI, NSA and the like, you could characterize that as somehow giving up liberties. But the fact of the matter is, it's understandable and absolutely necessary if you want to protect the security of the United States."