WASHINGTON, D.C.: TIME's Mark Thompson reports that a warning by Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni that U.S. forces in the Gulf are being stalked and are likely to be attacked again must be taken seriously. Zinni is President Clinton's choice to head military operations in the Persian Gulf. Says Thompson: "When you're the world's lone remaining superpower and you've got friends in the Middle East with many enemies, you ipso facto become the enemy of your friends' enemies. The United States, to put it simply, is like a lighting rod there." Although U.S. forces are probably in the crosshairs, Zinni, who is undergoing confirmation hearings in the Senate, said improvements in security since the Khobar Towers bombing have made the likelihood of a major disaster remote. In an effort to further reassure the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said he has received no indication from the CIA that regional terrorists have the capability to menace U.S. troops with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. That's not exactly what you call case closed. Thompson cautions that previous intelligence assessments of terrorist capabilities have often been inadequate. "They're always fragmentary and incomplete. In particular, information on the groups themselves has never been very good and information regarding technical aspects tends to be even worse."