Lawfare Uses Incomplete Facts about Abdulmutallab Trial to Attack Dirty Wars

I’m going to take a break from noting how Lawfare ignores the public record on NSA spying — both of past failures to inform Congress, and of Intelligence Community lies about having done so — to note how Lawfare ignores the public record on drone killing.

On Sunday, Lawfare posted a long review of Jeremy Scahill’s book Dirty Wars. While it is not entirely negative, it stakes a claim on what the public record shows to argue that Scahill glossed over what a dangerous man Anwar al-Awlaki was. Yet the review itself ignores key details in the public record.

First, full disclosure. I’m friends with Scahill, and he acknowledged me in the book. But given that I’m not quoted, I suspect he acknowledged me because I’ve followed certain aspects of the narrative he covered — especially the evidence in the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab case and the shoddy OLC case to support Awlaki’s killing — in more detail than most other reporters.

It’s for that reason that I find the review to be so problematic.

After spending two paragraphs praising the on-the-ground reporting Scahill did, Lawfare reviewer Nick Basciano complains,

Scahill simply skips over facts that don’t promote his narrative of Awlaki. One such example comes in Awlaki’s relationship with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Christmas Day Bomber” who attempted to detonate almost three ounces of PETN aboard Northwest flight 253 on its descent to Detroit. A publically-available and widely-cited sentencing memorandum for Abdulmutallab describes how Awlaki housed Abdulmutallab in Yemen and took him to AQAP’s primary bomb-maker, Ibrahim Al Asiri. There, they “discussed a plan for martyrdom mission” and Awlaki himself gave the bombing plot “final approval and instructed Defendant Abdulmutallab on it.” Awlaki’s “last instructions,” the memorandum continues, “were to wait until the airplane was over the United States and then to take the plane down.” Without dealing with this evidence from the Abdulmutallab trial, Scahill admits that Awlaki was only “in touch” with Abdulmutallab, insisting that “no conclusive evidence [was] presented, at least not publicly, that Awlaki had played an operational role in any attacks.” Why such a relevant piece of evidence isn’t included in Scahill’s retelling of the Abdulmuttallab plot is unclear, but it isn’t the only instance of turning a blind eye to evidence linking Awlaki’s directly to terrorism.

The trial, of course, took place several weeks after the final event of Scahill’s narrative, the killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki [Correction: The trial took place on October 11 and 12, 2009, before Abdulrahman’s death. But as I note, the narrative presented there differs in key ways from the one Basciano adopts]. The sentencing took place several months later. That doesn’t mean Scahill couldn’t have included the evidence from “the trial.” But it was not part of the narrative arc Scahill told in the book.

Moreover, Basciano’s description ignores the reporting Scahill did do on Awlaki’s role in Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack, reporting based on talking to people who knew of Abdulmutallab’s movements in Yemen.

A local trial leader from Shabwah, Mullah Zabara, later told me he had seen the young Nigerian at the farm of Fahd al-Quso, the alleged USS Cole bombing conspirator. “He was watering trees,” Zabara told me. “When I saw [Abdulmutallab], I asked Fahd, ‘Who is he?'” Quso told Zabara the young man was from a different part of Yemen, which Zabara knew was a lie. “When I saw him on TV, then Fahd told me the truth.”

Awlaki’s role in the “underwear plot” was unclear. Awlaki later claimed that Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.” Tribal sources in Shabwah told me that al Qaeda operatives reached out to Awlaki to give religious counseling to Abdulmutallab, but that Awlaki was not involved in the plot. While praising the plot, Awlaki said he had not been involved with its conception of planning. (318)

After having complimented Scahill’s efforts to speak to people on the ground, Basciano did not mention that he had done so, too, in regards to the Abdulmutallab attack.

Moreover, if Scahill had used the material released in relation to the trial, the evidence would be much muddier than Basciano lays out. After all, the narrative Basciano finds centrally important is just one of three confessions Abdulmutallab made:

  • On December 25, 2009, Abdulmutallab claimed “Abu Tarak” prepared all aspects of the attack. A DOJ source has since said that Abu Tarak “was” Awlaki, but that claim conflicts with DOJ’s own sentencing memo, which attributes at least one activity Abdulmutallab attributed to Abu Tarak to Ibrahim al-Asiri.
  • Sometime after Dana Priest reported, on January 27, 2010, that Awlaki had already been placed on JSOC’s kill list, and April 15, 2010 Abdulmutallab said Awlaki had a central role, both in directing him to target the US specifically, but also in making his martyrdom video. This confession was made during an interrogation directed in part by the High Value Interrogation Group, after some time in solitary confinement, and was offered in conjunction with a plea negotations that never reached agreement. This narrative is the one Basciano presents as “fact.”
  • At his guilty plea, Abdulmutallab said Awlaki had inspired his attack, but he did not say Awlaki had prepared it (he did not name his co-conspirators, and he also insisted that Awlaki was still alive).

Basciano, in short, commits the same error he accuses Scahill of, ignoring the parts of the case record that don’t help his argument.

And there are a whole slew of reasons the sentencing memo narrative should not be accepted as fact unquestioningly. Dr. Simon Perry, who read Abdulmutallab’s interrogation reports, treated Abu Tarak and Awlaki as different people, indicating the reports never include a clear claim that Tarak was Awlaki. The sentencing memo narrative claims that AQAP’s greatest English language propagandist would make a martyrdom video with someone formally schooled in English and still learning Arabic, but make that video in Arabic, even while other English speaking terrorists made their videos in English for the greater propaganda value. It ignores Fahd al-Quso’s role in working with Abdulmutallab, which is especially interesting given his apparent central role in training UndieBomb 2.0. Oddly, Abulmutallab’s interrogators discussed Awlaki’s possible death during interrogations.

In addition, prosecutors planned the actual trial, during which Abdulmutallab would have had the opportunity to challenge this statement, so as not to rely on it. (Abdulmutallab objected to its use because it was only a proffer, and the prosecutors readily agreed to that demand.) I would suggest they were not confident the narrative would go unchallenged. Their failure to indict Awlaki, either in Abdulmutallab’s conspiracy charge or on his own, further supports that.

So Basciano’s claim Scahill should have presented the sentencing memorandum needs far more context than he gives it, because it not a “fact,” but just one version of the “facts,” which conflicts with other versions. We don’t know which version is correct, because the government chose not to present this narrative in the normal venue for assessing conflicting claims, a trial.

But there’s a detail in the public record — and important new reporting from Scahill’s book — that I find Basciano’s silence on just as troubling.

As I have noted, the WikiLeaks cable of the January 2, 2010 meeting between Ali Abdullah Saleh and David Petraeus, in which Saleh blithely notes both Nasir al-Wuhayshi and Awlaki escaped death in a US strike on Christmas Eve 2009, strongly suggests Awlaki was a named target of that attack. Scahill doesn’t cite the cable, which would have helped his case. Instead, Scahill relays that, on December 20, Saleh told Awlaki’s father his son had been killed in a strike on that day.

He said, ‘Nasser, have you heard the news?’ I said, ‘What news?’ He said, ‘Four hours ago, your son was killed by an American airplane.’ I said, ‘What American airplane? Where?'” Saleh told him the location, a mountainous area of Shabwah. Nasser hung up and started calling tribal leaders in the area, desperate for any information. There had been no air strikes reported. “I don’t know why the president told me that,” Nasser later told me, adding that he believes the Americans had told Saleh they were going to hit Anwar on that day but that the operation had been called off for some reason. Regardless of the reason, it was now clear: “The Americans really wanted to kill Anwar.” (314)

Nasser al-Awlaki is obviously not an unbiased observer (though if he had wanted to lie, he might have crafted a less convoluted story). But Nasser’s story, the WikiLeaks cable, and a number of contemporary reports all support the case that Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted by name, not just incidentally, the day before the UndieBomb plot.

That’s important because — another public record not cited by either Basciano or Scahill — according to the William Webster report, Anwar al-Awlaki was not considered to be operational until the UndieBomb attack, a day after (increasing amounts of evidence suggest) Awlaki may have been targeted based solely on Presidential authority. Significantly, FBI sources immediately started leaking that Abdulmutallab had implicated Awlaki in his Christmas day confession, which we now know to be false (he implicated “Abu Tarak.”) Thus, over a month before Abdulmutallab did implicate Awlaki in a plea proffer at the hands of HIG, FBI was already anonymously claiming he had. All just days after the government had apparently tried to kill Awlaki before they had definitive evidence he was operational.

Mind you, Abdulmutallab’s confessions are not the only piece of evidence implicating Awlaki (or not) in his attack. The sentencing memo also refers to electronic communications Abdulmutallab wrote to Awlaki. Though curiously, no one has ever questioned why FBI’s two Agents spending several hours a day monitoring Awlaki’s wiretap missed that particular dot in advance of the attack.

The public record shows two things. A good deal of conflicting information about Awlaki’s role in Abdulmutallab’s attack (as well as evidence that he grew even closer to Al Qaeda after that point, which Scahill shows too, though even some of that doesn’t support the claim he played a leadership role). And solid — but unconfirmed — evidence that the government tried to kill Awlaki before they had evidence he was operational, the key criterion that would (according to DOJ’s white paper) make such killing legal. I would suggest those two details must be presented together to understand both the incentives driving the plea deal DOJ tried to get Abdulmutallab to take and the circumstances under which DOJ decided it could kill an American citizen with no recognizable due process.

Basciano is absolutely entitled to attack Scahill’s book if he chooses. But for a guy claiming Scahill ignored key facts, he seems to be claiming a mighty selective set of “facts” himself.

Update: In related news, the 6th Circuit has scheduled a hearing for Abdulmutallab’s appeal of his conviction and sentence on December 5. Here’s a post describing the appeal; the most interesting claim is that 15 months in solitary confinement made Abdulmutallab incompetent to represent himself.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. Clark Hilldale says:

    On Sunday, Lawfare posted a long review of Jeremy Scahill’s book Dirty Wars.

    Leaving aside their misleading spin about Scahill’s book, how many varieties of dysfunctional can Lawfare embody to be reviewing a book six months after publication?

    Oh yeah, the Scahill/Greenwald/Poitras/Omidyar project must have spurred Lawfare’s literary initiative.

  2. harpie says:

    Tweets:

    Benjamin Wittes [email protected] 3 Nov
    Review by Nick Basciano of @jeremyscahill book “Dirty Wars” on @lawfareblog.

    jeremy scahill [email protected] 3 Nov
    @benjaminwittes @lawfareblog sorry! I’ll try to regurgitate the government’s line more faithfully next time! Retweeted by Jeffrey Kaye

  3. Frank33 says:

    Scahill simply skips over facts that don’t promote his narrative of Awlaki. One such example comes in Awlaki’s relationship with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Christmas Day Bomber” who attempted to detonate almost three ounces of PETN aboard Northwest flight 253 on its descent to Detroit.

    Basciano simply skips over facts that don’t promote his narrative of Undie #1. One such example is his false description of the attack on Flight #253, when Undie #1 “attempted to detonate almost three ounces of PETN aboard Northwest flight 253 on its descent to Detroit.”

    He did not ATTEMPT to detonate his underwear. He DID detonate his three ounces of PETN and a dangerous fire started. The government spokesliars have repeatedly claimed, falsely, that the Undie #1 attack had been “thwarted”. Since Basciano is repeating this false history, we should assume that his liar pants are on fire.

    And I love a mystery so it should be noted that there was no independent confirmation of the death of al-Awlaki. He probably was droned. But with spies you never know for sure, and al-Awlaki at one time was a double or triple or quadruple agent.

  4. thatvisionthing says:

    @Frank33:

    Since Basciano is repeating this false history, we should assume that his liar pants are on fire.

    :-)

    He did not ATTEMPT to detonate his underwear. He DID detonate his three ounces of PETN and a dangerous fire started. The government spokesliars have repeatedly claimed, falsely, that the Undie #1 attack had been “thwarted”.

    Repeating a comment I left in an earlier post:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/09/24/further-implications-undiebomb-ii-guilty-plea/#comment-631544

    Long victim impact statement read in trial of Undiebomber #1 describes what a passenger observed before, on and after the flight that lead him to believe Abdulmutallab was being shepherded and the bomb was a fake, and ends this way:

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2012/02/16/abdulmutallab-sentencing-shows-that-civilian-courts-sufficient-to-prosecute-terrorism/#comment-175277

    When I attended the jury selection hearings, I questioned why versions of the same two questions kept coming up, those being:

    1. Do you think you’ll be able to tell whether something is actually a bomb? and
 2. Do you realize that sometimes the media doesn’t always tell the truth?

    I continued to be greatly saddened at this point as I felt the truth continued to be hidden.

    When Umar listed me as his only witness, I was happy to testify, not on his behalf, but on behalf of the truth. I never expected to testify, as my eyewitness account would have been too damaging to the myth that the government and media are putting forward. A mere 5 days after I was announced as a witness, there was an inexplicable guilty plea which exasperated me as I no longer would be testifying.

    In closing I will just say that regardless of how the media and government try to shape the public perception of this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. Government agent and placed on our flight without showing a passport or going through security, to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies.

    The effect this matter has had on my life has been astounding and due to this case, I will never trust the government in any matter, ever.

    So I’m glad ew put “the trial” in quotes at one point above, because the eyewitness passenger never got to testify other than make this victim statement.

  5. thatvisionthing says:

    Also, that whole let-the-Undiebomber-on-the-plane scenario sounds like Keith Alexander:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/10/23/under-keith-alexanders-guard-america-can-be-plundered-like-a-colony/

    We know how to defend the country, Alexander says. It involves creating security holes, then using them to find out who will attack us…

    …or exploiting them for security theater.

    Out here in the cheap seats, and not having read either, I’m wondering if Scahill or Lawfare examine some of the clues I’ve seen go by… like Frank said above, that Awlaki was being played by US, that Abdulmutallab was being played by US, that the courts are being played by US and will probably be useless because the first thing to get covered up is national security secrets like how every bit of “reality” is a compromised story involving informants and manipulators.

    So dog chases tail and we get bored and don’t believe there’s any sense or point to any of this. Because terror, because security dollars, because secrecy, because Congress/President/Courts, all bought and kept safely and sickly away from sunshine and reason and empathy, the stuff democracy is made of.

    Where I’m at here is a question I raised in the “Too much transparency defeats the very purpose of democracy” post. How come the intelligence community cultivates and harvests terrorists instead of the decent humans their marks could be?

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/10/25/too-much-transparency-defeats-the-very-purpose-of-democracy/#comment-648565

    As if Abdulmutallab’s identity as a terrorist is definite / total / forever / unquestionable. But the kids he went to school with called him “the Pope” because of his concern for others less fortunate, his selflessness and prayers: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/02/03/when-was-the-last-time-a-pope-was-shit-faced-drunk-on-the-streets-of-paris/#comment-333416

    Minority Report-wise, if we are so all-seeing and wise, why weren’t we looking for a way to find the pre-saint in Umar instead of the pre-criminal? Why do we write scripts for terrorists and then go casting for marks to play the roles? In the class photo in this article ( http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/teacher-umar-farouk-abdulmutallab-flight-253-terrorist-openly-supported-taliban-article-1.432414 ) Umar is the one pointing to the sign that says “STOP KILLING KIDS.” Does the all-seeing, wise and unquestionable IC ever consider that we STOP KILLING KIDS? Or is that out of their compartment?

  6. Frank33 says:

    @thatvisionthing:
    I would say that Basciano has an Undie Bomb that went off in his liar pants. Abdulmutallab was incoherent and had no visa and probably no passport. He could not have gotten on a bus without help. Al-Asiri is the new scariest ever Al Qaeda. It is outrageous and startling that Al Asiri uses CAULK in his almost deadly bombs! But Undie’s handler who did talk him through security seems to be very dangerous also.

    Perhaps the airport’s camera photos would allow us to identifiy this tricky Al Qaeda spy who slipped a diabolical Al Qaeda underwear bomb through the security net.

    But the bigger fraud, is that Undie was put on board Flight 253 because he was part of an Intelligence Community conspiracy, that allowed him through airport security without a search. Patrick Kennedy testified about that. Basciano is ignoring that Undie #1, same as Undie #2 was a ruse, by the False Flag Community. And Basciano’s attack against Jeremy Scahill does deserve a kinetic counterattack.

  7. thatvisionthing says:

    @Frank33: Airport video, I thought I read. But – like the video of OK City bomb that Jesse Trentadue has been FOIAing forever, and how what he (finally) gets always has holes at the crucial moments – we will never be allowed to see it. Because…

    If we could just all LOOK at the surveillance video, we might know something. But “intelligence” means keeping everyone stupid.

  8. thatvisionthing says:

    Video.

    More from the victim impact statement read in court:

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2012/02/16/abdulmutallab-sentencing-shows-that-civilian-courts-sufficient-to-prosecute-terrorism/#comment-175277

    For one month the government refused to admit the existence of the man in the tan suit before changing course and admitting his existence in an ABC News article on January 22, 2010. That was the last time the government talked about this man. The video that would prove the truth of my account has never been released. I continue to be emotionally upset that the video has not been released. The Dutch police, meanwhile, in this article (show article), also confirmed that Umar did not show his passport in Amsterdam which also meant that he didn’t go through security as both are in the same line in Amsterdam. It upsets me that the government refuses to admit this fact.

    I became further saddened from this case, when Patrick Kennedy of the State Department during Congressional hearings, admitted that Umar was a known terrorist, was being followed, and the U.S. allowed him into the U.S. so that it could catch Umar’s accomplices. I was once again shocked and saddened when Michael Leiter of the National Counter terrorism Center admitted during these same hearings that intentionally letting terrorists into the U.S. was a frequent practice of the U.S. Government. I cannot fully explain my sadness, disappointment and fear when I realized that my government allowed an attack on me intentionally.

  9. Frank33 says:

    @thatvisionthing:
    Basciano is a “recent” graduate of Notre Dame. He “works” for Brookings. Is he one of those young, next generation brave chickenhawks, gonna save us from the terrorists? Maybe Nick should volunteer for the military and win the War On Terror, like General Petraeus.

  10. thatvisionthing says:

    What State Department’s Patrick Kennedy testified at hearings post undiebomb. I’m going to paste the whole youtube transcript in here, because I’m watching ew’s Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/emptywheel/statuses/397859905496838144) and it seems instantly relevant, but it would be fine if ew wanted to keep this thread in trim and just kept the link. Nice to have it all at hand, though, so he speaks for himself. Here it is:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/21/the-laughable-currently-operative-ap-pushback-story/#comment-554288

    Patrick Kennedy testified before the Senate Judiciary committee (1/20/10) and the House Committee on Homeland Security (1/27/10) — there’s a YouTube that has snips…

    Flight 253 Patrick F. Kennedy Testimony

    Patrick F. Kennedy testifies before the Senate and House committees investigating the 12/25/09 Christmas Day Bombing attempt of Flight 253

    Counterterrorism & Interagency Communications – C-Span 2

    Transcript

    Patrick Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management: …expeditious coordination with our national security partners is not to be underestimated. There have been numerous cases where our unilateral and uncoordinated revocation of a visa would have disrupted important investigations that were underway by one of our national security partners. They had the individual under investigation and our revocation action would have disclosed U.S. government’s interest in that individual and ended our colleagues’ ability, such as the FBI, to pursue the case quietly and to identify terrorist plans and co-conspirators.

    – cut –

    Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland): Get to Mr. Abdulmutallab for one moment. Information became available last year to the State Department from his father, and as I understand, that information was reviewed as to whether there was a visa outstanding in regards to that individual and because of the spelling of the name it didn’t pop up on your data search. Is that correct?

    Patrick Kennedy: That is correct, Senator. We did, though, put the name correctly into our lookout system and the lookout system went to all the agencies in Washington and a longer classified message describing more in-depth conversations with his father went in with the correct spelling and the two were married up in a single file in Washington, and so the misspelling, our error, was obviated by the second message that paired up with it, sir.

    Sen. Cardin: But it never jumped – it never gave you the information at the time that at least it was outstanding. If it did, if it would have shown that he had been issued a visa in 2008, was there sufficient information available for you to take action in regards to that visa?

    Patrick Kennedy: No, sir, there was not, there was not sufficient information from his father, nor do we take preemptive action, because as I mentioned earlier we always consult with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners before we revoke a visa to make sure the individual is not a subject of investigation and we would compromise their investigation.

    Sen. Cardin: Are you saying that even if it would have popped up that he had a visa outstanding, you would have not taken any action to revoke that visa?

    Patrick Kennedy: There was insufficient information to immediately revoke the visa, and also following the protocols that have been in place since 2001, we check with our partners in the intelligence and law enforcement communities to make sure that our revoking that visa does not tip him off that he is under surveillance by one of our partners in the national security community, and thus our action would have compromised their ability – let me hypothetically state – to roll up a larger terrorism ring.

    Sen. Cardin: We don’t know what would have happened if you made that inquiry.

    Patrick Kennedy: We did notify, we did put his name correctly spelled into our database that was available to law enforcement and the intelligence community personnel.

    Sen. Cardin: And no dots were connected from that that we’re aware of prior to Christmas.

    Patrick Kennedy: That – sir, that is something that is outside –

    Sen. Cardin: He didn’t go on any watch list, did he?

    Patrick Kennedy: No, sir. We – if the intelligence or law enforcement communities had come back to the State Department and said, “We have other information on this individual in addition to the information you the State Department has provided us, we are putting him on one of the lists,” we would have – potentially we would have revoked that visa in coordination with law enforcement and intelligence.

    Sen. Cardin: The DHS had the information prior to Christmas Day but did not have any reliable information to act – is that where we are?

    David Heyman, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Policy: He was neither on the watch list nor a no fly list nor the selectee list, and so there was no, no check against those lists would have come up with anything.

    Sen. Cardin: But whose responsibility was it to look into that information and determine as to whether he was actively involved in Al Qaeda in Yemen?
    Sen. Cardin: No one seems to want to answer.

    – cut –

    Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Judiciary Committee Chairman: Secretary Kennedy, the State Department didn’t realize the suspect in the Christmas Day attempted bombing possessed a visa until after he initiated his action on the flight. The consular officer sent the first notice that was given to the National Counterterrorism Center that initially misspelled the name, as we talked about, but within days an amended notice was sent to NCTC with the corrected spelling. Why didn’t the consular officer not check the visa status of the Nigerian national at the time the second notice was sent?

    Patrick Kennedy: He did not do that, Mr. Chairman, beca–

    Sen. Leahy: I know he didn’t do it, but why not?

    Patrick Kennedy: Because the second message was launched from another source.

    7 days later on 1/27/10 Patrick F. Kennedy would testify before the House committee…

    Patrick Kennedy: As I mentioned in my statement, Mr. Chairman, if we unilaterally revoked a visa, and there was a case recently, we have a request from a law enforcement agency to NOT revoke the visa. We came across information. We said, “This is a dangerous person.” We were ready to revoke the visa. We then went to the community and said, “Should we revoke this visa?” And one of the members – and we’ll be glad to give you that out – in private – said, “Please, do not revoke this visa. We have eyes on this person. We are following this person who has the visa for the purpose of trying to roll up an entire network, not just stop one person.” So we will revoke the visa of any individual who is a threat to the United States, but we do take one preliminary step. We ask our law enforcement and intelligence community partners, “Do you have eyes on this person, and do you want us to let this person proceed under your surveillance so that you may potentially break a larger plot?”

    Mr. Thompson, Chairman: I think that the point that I’m trying to get at is, is this just another box you’re checking, or is there some security value to adding that box to the list?

    Patrick Kennedy: The intelligence and law enforcement community tell us that they believe in certain cases that there’s a higher value of them following this person so they can find his or her co-conspirators and roll up an entire plot against the United States rather than simply knock out one, one soldier in that effort.

    Sen. Leahy: Why wouldn’t – it may have been launched from another source, but why wasn’t it checked?

    Patrick Kennedy: Beca– I can’t – because we did not have access at the embassy to the other, to that other reporting, Mr. Chairman, and we had entered his name in the correct spelling into the database that is our watch list database which was disseminated to all the appropriate agencies. We slipped up. I have no statement other than that, sir.

    Sen. Leahy: Thank you.

    – cut –

    Sen. Charles Schumer, New York: Do you agree that Abdulmutallab would have been unable to enter the United States had he been required to obtain a new visa prior to his flight to Detroit?

    Patrick Kennedy: We do continue our reviews and if we discover that the terrorist screening center at the FBI or Homeland Security has elevated this person, we then revoke that visa immediately.

    Sen. Schumer: Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be better to do it the way I’m suggesting?

    Patrick Kennedy: Because, Senator, if the information is not – if the dots are not connected, then the individual is going to get the visa because there is no – then when we applies for the new visa and we ran it against the database, if the dots are not connected and an individual has not been put on the list by one of the intelligence or law enforcement communities –

    Sen. Schumer: But he was on the list.

    Patrick Kennedy: He was on a tie– no sir, he was not on no fly, he was not on the no issuance lists.

    Chuck Schumer: Right, but he was on the larger list.

    Patrick Kennedy: Right. And –

    Sen. Schumer: What I’m saying is, if the visa had to be applied for and you’re from one of these 14 countries –

    Patrick Kennedy: Right.

    Sen. Schumer: – then you wouldn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten – if they would have seen him on this list, the bigger list, 500,000 list, then they would have reviewed it more carefully.

    Patrick Kennedy: That – they reviewed – if they, yes, sir –

    Sen. Schumer: If they wouldn’t, then something is profoundly wrong.

    Patrick Kennedy: You’re, you’re, you’re – Senator, you’re very correct. This all lies in connecting dots.

    Sen. Schumer: And you don’t have access to the “tied” database, right?

    Patrick Kennedy: Yes, sir, we have access to the tied database. We’re, we are the people who caused his name to be put into the tied database when we filed the Visa Viper report. We caused his name –

    Sen. Schumer: As I understand it, you have access to what you put into the tied database but not to the whole tied database. That is correct?

    Patrick Kennedy: That is c– we have ac –

    Sen. Schumer: That is correct? Yes or no?

    Patrick Kennedy: Yes.

    Sen. Schumer: Okay. That is my point, isn’t it?

    Patrick Kennedy: But if someone is in the tied database, Senator, and that comes up on the tied database, we then send a message to the intelligence and law enforcement communities and say, “Should we issue this visa or not?”

    (not sure about “tied” database – ?)

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