On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Department of Justice's handling of known or suspected terrorists admitted into the Witness Security Program, a federal program designed to protect witnesses and their dependents that are in danger as a result of their agreement to testify for the government in a variety of cases. Last month, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report on DOJ's systemic mismanagement of the Witness Security Program, finding that the number of known or suspected terrorists admitted to the program is unknown, that DOJ has lost track of two suspected terrorists in the program, and that critical national security information is not being shared with other agencies.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) released the following statements in advance of Tuesday's hearing.
Chairman Goodlatte: "The Justice Department's gross mismanagement of the Witness Security Program jeopardizes American lives and cannot be tolerated. While the Department has used the Witness Security Program as a prosecutorial tool in terrorism cases, it has failed to share critical national security information with the FBI and TSA's No Fly list when suspected or known terrorists have participated in the program. As a result, terrorists have been able to board planes in the U.S. under their new names even though they are prohibited from doing so. This is extremely troubling considering the IG report found that some of the terrorists admitted to the program have been trained in aviation and explosives and have also been involved in bombing attacks.
"This lack of interagency information sharing appears to be systemic. We witnessed similar interagency sharing problems leading up to the bombings in Boston and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We cannot afford for history to repeat itself again. The Administration needs to better facilitate interagency information sharing so that we can better thwart future terrorist attacks."
Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner: "I was outraged to learn of the mishandling of terrorists in the Witness Security Program. It is becoming increasingly apparent the Department of Justice lacks proper leadership and oversight. Hopefully, the witnesses at tomorrow's hearing are forthright and someone is held accountable. Further, steps should be taken to ensure information between agencies is properly shared so instances like this and the attack in Boston are prevented, terrorists in the program are properly accounted for, and American lives are not put in unnecessary danger."
Witnesses for tomorrow's hearing include:
The Honorable Michael Horowitz, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice;
Mr. David Harlow, Assistant Director, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Department of Justice; and
Mr. Paul O'Brien, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
The hearing will take place in 2141 Rayburn. All House Judiciary Committee hearings are webcast live at www.judiciary.house.gov. For more information about this hearing, visit http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/hear_06042013.html