Opinion

IG report: DOJ placed terrorists in witness protection, then lost them

Eric Holder’s already beleaguered Justice Department came under attack again with the release of a government watchdog report Thursday indicating that it lost track of two known or suspected terrorists, and allowed them to board commercial flights despite their names being on the no-fly list.

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The Inspector General’s report indicated that the two alleged terrorists were provided new identities as members of the witness protection program, but that those new identities were not updated into the federal no-fly list. The two individuals then left the program without notice, according to Fox News.

“Therefore, it was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the United States and evade one of the government’s primary means of identifying and tracking terrorists’ movements and actions,” the report said, adding that “some” did exactly that.

Referring to those “some” who left the program, the Fox repot continued:

The inspector general’s office also said the U.S. Marshals Service, as of last July, was “unable to locate” two former participants who were known or suspected terrorists, and that they were thought to be outside the U.S. The report said the department “did not definitively know” how many known or suspected terrorists had been admitted into the program either.

The report’s release stirred controversy on Capitol Hill.

“This is gross mismanagement — pure and simple,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement. Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Today’s IG report shows that the Justice Department continues to repeat the same mistakes that were made prior to 9/11,” he said, adding that his committee would hold a hearing on the matter.

Justice Department officials claim there’s no danger to the public. Witness protection is a voluntary program that they left voluntarily, they claim. It also stressed that those in witness protection have provided invaluable information in the past, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Another way to obtain invaluable information from known terrorists, others claim, may be to tell them, “We’ll stop waterboarding you if you tell us what we want to know.”

Republican leadership wasn’t convinced.

“This is just another example of the Justice Department’s ineptness at the basic handling of an important program,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday in a statement. “These people may be in a witness protection program, but they were still known or suspected terrorists. It’s only logical that the federal government know where they are.”

Watch the Fox News report.

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