The good news for the White House? Thanks to the current scandals, this may not even get noticed. Jake Tapper has the scoop from yet another IG bombshell:
The U.S. Marshal Service has been “unable to locate” two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program “identified as known or suspected terrorists,” states the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General’s report obtained by CNN.
The Marshals have concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.”
The news comes from an audit of the Witness Security Program by the IG’s office , which states that “the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC program,” among other “significant issues concerning national security.” The report makes 16 recommendations.
The “Interim Report on the Department of Justice’s Handling of Known or Suspected Terrorists Admitted Into the Federal Witness Security Program” notes that while in the midst of an audit of the WITSEC program, the Inspector General felt the need to notify the Justice Department of national security vulnerabilities, and the IG’s office “developed the interim report to help ensure that the Department promptly and sufficiently addressed the deficiencies we found.”
The bad news? Well, for one thing, the phone providers for Jake Tapper and CNN are about to get very, very busy. For another, we have two men who were either involved or suspected of being involved in terrorism who have some significant knowledge of the system used to protect witnesses. Whether they’ve flipped back into terrorism or were captured by terrorists for their assistance to the US, we can assume that any information they have in that regard has been compromised. How well did the US Marshals, DHS, and/or DoJ compartmentalize this information?
Furthermore, as Tapper notes, this stunning failure comes during a week-long period in which Obama administration incompetence — at the least — has already come under a big media microscope. With many people wondering whether the lights are on and nobody’s home across a wide swath of this administration but perhaps most especially on the Benghazi attack, this will hardly help the White House find its footing on national security competence.
Update: The DoJ also failed to update the Terrorist Screening Center, which runs the no-fly lists:
The Justice Department’s inspector general says the department failed to provide the names of some terrorists in the witness protection program to the government’s Terrorist Screening Center.The center maintains the watch list that’s used to keep dangerous people off airline flights. …
The inspector general’s office says some in the witness protection program who were on the government’s no-fly list were allowed to board commercial flights.
Thankfully, though, this administration was focused like a laser on the threat posed by tax exemptions for conservative groups.