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Letter To The Honorable Janet Napolitano, Secretary, United States Department Of Homeland Security

Michigan Members Question Napolitano on Handling of Abdulmutallab Trial

Members of the Michigan Congressional delegation want answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding the upcoming trial of terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is the Nigerian man accused of trying to ignite a bomb onboard a flight bound for Detroit last Christmas. Concerned about both the security preparations and the cost of the Abdulmutallab trial, the Members sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week. The Members made the following comments about the Department's handling of this matter so far:

Senator Carl Levin (D): "Michigan is ready to do its part in contributing to our national security. Our letter is intended to ensure that Michigan gets the support it needs to carry out its responsibilities with respect to this trial, and to ensure that DHS has a plan in place to provide that support."

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D): "This trial has both national and global implications, and the Department of Homeland Security should provide the resources necessary to protect the people of Detroit and Southeast Michigan."

Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI02): "Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a terrorist who attempted to blow up a flight as it landed in Detroit, and he should be treated as such. He is not a civilian, he is an enemy combatant, and he should not be tried in a civilian court. However, if the Obama administration moves forward with a trial in Detroit, the federal government must provide the security and pay the costs necessary to ensure that Michigan residents are protected against threats and risks that may result from it."

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI06) "There is no question that the feds should handle a trial of this magnitude. Every resource must be made available in trying Abdulmutallab for his brazen act of terrorism against our nation. A trial in Michigan will put a tremendous burden on our resources, not to mention put a bullseye squarely on our backs for other possible attacks, creating a security nightmare. The federal government is best equipped with the resources and manpower to bring this terrorist to justice."

Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI08): "This is a foreign terrorist trained in a foreign land to kill hundreds of Americans. Michiganders know he should not be treated as a common criminal, but instead as an enemy combatant tried in a military tribunal. They surely know they shouldn't get stuck paying the bill for the security of holding a civilian trial of a terrorist in our community among our families."

Congressman Gary Peters (D-MI09): "We want to know there is a solid plan in place for security and who is going to pay for it. That's not too much to ask. The Administration has sought to ensure that New York City would receive federal funding if a terror trial were held there, and there is no reason Detroit should not be offered the same."

Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI10): "Since this failed terror attack, and subsequent flawed decision to try Abdulmutallab in Detroit, the people of Michigan have been asked to bear an undue burden for trying this terrorist in our court system in Michigan. The cost associated with this trial is the responsibility of the federal government, and I join with my colleagues from Michigan to ensure that our state does not pay further for being the target of this terrorist act."

Congressman Sander M. Levin (D-MI12): "The people of Michigan deserve assurance that full security will be in place for the trial of the suspect in the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253, and a commitment from the federal government to bear the full cost of providing this security."

Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D- MI13)"As Michigan's sole member in Congress who has served on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, I understand and appreciate the importance of our nation's security and how it should be financed. I have long fought and advocated for more resources for our neglected northern border and its security. It is patently unfair for the taxpaying citizens of southeastern Michigan, who already face record unemployment, home foreclosures, and business losses, with trial costs that no other jurisdiction would have to bear. I thank Congresswoman Miller for her hard work on this matter, and I remain confident of an expeditious response and solution to our most reasonable inquiries."

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI14): "Given Michigan's current economic climate, it is critical that we ensure that sufficient federal resources are in place to bear the full responsibility for security costs for a federal trial of Mr. Abdulmutallab. Bringing suspected terrorists to justice in federal court is entirely appropriate, but it should be the federal government that pays the costs. I look forward to seeing the outlined Department of Homeland Security plan to make sure that our state and local governments' resources are not further strained."

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15): "I first want to commend Congresswoman Miller for her leadership on this issue. I believe this incident has caused great anxiety and unease for many in Southeast Michigan. I do not want to see that tension exacerbated. We should be able to have confidence that DHS is prepared to protect our people and handle the expense of the security we need. Moreover, if DHS plans to pick up the tab for terrorism trials in New York City, it should do so for Detroit, Michigan. I expect quick and prompt answers from the Secretary that will satisfy these concerns of mine and of the delegation."

Below is a copy of the letter:

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20393

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We are writing to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security has a plan to coordinate with state and local government in Michigan so that all necessary security is provided in the event of a trial of suspected Northwest Airlines Flight 253 attempted bomber, Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. A recent article in the Detroit News has shed new light on the question of who will pay for security for the trial, and Representative Candice Miller (R-MI) sent a similar letter several months ago on this matter. The response received by Mrs. Miller was insufficient, so we write today as a delegation to ask for a more concrete and definitive answer.

The safety of the citizens in Southeast Michigan is paramount and the Federal Government needs to be completely clear that if Mr. Abdulmutallab is tried at the Theodore Levin Courthouse in Detroit, the Federal Government has a plan to ensure security at the Courthouse and surrounding areas, and, further, that the Federal Government will bear the full cost of providing this security. We know you agree that Michigan residents' safety and security are as important as that of citizens of New York, where other trails for suspected terrorists are planned. If the Federal Government pays for security-related matters for the New York trials, it must be prepared to do the same in Detroit.

In your Department's June 2, 2010 response to Representative Miller, you state that Detroit would be eligible for funds in the President's request of $200 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) to provide security for "terror-related trials." As you may know, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations did not include this amount in the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for fiscal year (FY) 2011. However, Congress appropriated $887 million for the UASI program in FY 2010 and $838 million for UASI in FY 2009. In addition, given that the Theodore Levin Courthouse is located just across the border from Canada, other DHS programs should also be considered as funding sources for security before and during the trials.

We would like to ask you to respond to the following questions with regard to the civilian trial of Mr. Abdulmutallab:

1. Does the Department of Homeland Security consider the Federal Government responsible for the security of the citizens of Detroit and greater Southeast Michigan during the trial of Mr. Abdulmutallab?

2. How does the Department of Homeland Security intend to carry out this responsibility?

We hope that you will provide a thorough response to these questions no later than August 28, 2010. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.


Carl Levin, U.S. Senator
Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Senator
John D. Dingell, Member of Congress
Fred Upton, Member of Congress
Candice Miller, Member of Congress
Bart Stupak, Member of Congress
Vern Ehlers, Member of Congress
Sander Levin, Member of Congress
Thaddeus McCotter, Member of Congress
Dale Kildee, Member of Congress
John Conyers, Member of Congress
Mike Rogers, Member of Congress
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Member of Congress
Gary Peters, Member of Congress
Mark Schauer, Member of Congress
Dave Camp, Member of Congress
Pete Hoekstra, Member of Congress

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