WASHINGTON – Al Qaeda terror network leader Usama bin Laden is a "man on the run" who has demonstrated in his latest videotape release that he is "virtually impotent" and capable of nothing more than threats, the White House's chief homeland security adviser said Sunday.
Frances Townsend told "FOX News Sunday" that the tape out Friday from bin Laden was made recently, possibly in the last several months. While the intelligence community is still evaluating the tape to determine the terror leader's health, possible whereabouts and other details, it does not appear to be a trigger for an attack.
"There's nothing overtly obvious in the tape that would suggest this is a trigger for an attack," she said.
"We know that Al Qaeda is still determined to attack, and we take it seriously. But this tape appears to be nothing more than threats. It's propaganda on their part," Townsend added.
The tape was the first time that the fugitive Al Qaeda leader has appeared in a new video since 2004. In the recording, he tells Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end. He makes no overt threats and does not directly call for attacks.
"This is about the best he can do," Townsend said. "This is a man on a run, from a cave, who's virtually impotent other than these tapes."
Speaking two days before the six-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack that killed about 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the homeland security adviser acknowledged that the latest National Intelligence Estimate shows the terror group has gained some capability and operational leadership.
The network is believed to be regrouping in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, but according to Townsend, is also actively trying to establish sleeper cells in the United States. She refused to talk about ongoing investigations, and said the No. 1 priority for the FBI and U.S. intelligence is to keep Al Qaeda cells out of the U.S.
"What they haven't seemed to be able to do is find a way to get the operatives inside the United States. The estimate, the intelligence estimate, makes clear Al Qaeda views the United States as a more difficult target to attack. And frankly, that's the result of the efforts of thousands of public servants who work very hard every day to stop the next attack," she said.
The United States is safer than it was after Sept. 11, 2001, she added, and said comments like one by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards suggesting the contrary are "irresponsible and unwarranted" and "not supported by facts."
Townsend also called the war in Iraq a "propaganda tool" used by enemies, but objected to a Washington Post op-ed written by Lee Hamilton and James Baker, co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, who called the Iraq war a distraction in the War on Terror
It is "not a distraction" but an "integral part of the war effort," she said of the effort in Iraq.
Asked about the courts and Congress making it tougher to use surveillance tools to prevent terror, Townsend said, "We need those tools to continue to win the War on Terror" and reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides the court structure for warrants on terror suspects, should be made permanent.
FOX News' Amy Wehinger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.