Witness Protection Program Lost 2 Terrorists

And there's more...
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2013 6:09 AM CDT
Witness Protection Program Lost 2 Terrorists
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general, goes before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee a day after he faulted the department for disregard of public safety in "Operation Fast and Furious," the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' program that allowed...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

US officials lost track of a pair of "known or suspected terrorists"—the New York Times dubs them "former terrorists"—who were in the witness protection program. The good news: They are now "accounted for," per a Justice Department rep, who says they left both the US and the program years ago. The bad: In a review of the program, the department's inspector general's office found that the number of missing terrorists "may not be complete and may continue to evolve," CNN notes. And, actually, it found the DOJ "did not definitively know" how many known or suspected terrorists were even in the program to begin with.

And that may not be the worst of it: The DOJ wasn't sharing the new identities these witnesses were operating under to officials who build US watch lists, the Times notes. "Therefore it was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the United States," the IG report says. The IG warned top Justice officials about the flight problem early last year, and it has been remedied. Fewer than 1% of those who have ever been in the witness protection program are terror-linked figures, and only two such people have joined in the past six years. But House Judiciary Committee head Robert Goodlatte plans a hearing on the "outrageous problem." (Read more witness protection stories.)

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