The U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released a report on Thursday that the House Judiciary Committee said showed a “systemic mismanagement in the handling of known or suspected terrorists admitted into the federal Witness Security (WITSEC) Program.”
According to the report, the number of known or suspected terrorists admitted to the Witness Security Program remains undetermined. The report also explains that the DOJ lost track of two suspected terrorists in the program and that important national security information is not being shared with other agencies.
In July 2012, the USMS stated that it was unable to locate two former WITSEC participants identified as known or suspected terrorists, and that through its investigative efforts, it has concluded that one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.
In addition, we found that the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC Program. The Department has identified a small but significant number of USMS WITSEC Program participants as known or suspected terrorists. As of March 2013, the Department is continuing to review its more than 18,000 WITSEC case files to determine whether additional known or suspected terrorists have been admitted into the program. Therefore, we believe the number may not be complete and may continue to evolve.
The Justice Department is refuting the report, claiming the two suspected terrorists believed to have been lost track of actually are accounted for and out of the country.
The IG made 16 recommendations to the Deputy Attorney General to help the DOJ “in its efforts to include national security considerations when identifying, admitting, monitoring, and terminating WITSEC Program participants who are known or suspected terrorists.”
According to the report, the DOJ said that as of March 2013 it had put forth “corrective actions for 15 of these recommendations” and was in the process of establishing “corrective action on the remaining recommendation.”
The Justice Department’s OIG remarked in its report that it will continue to review the WITSEC Program and evaluate and report on the “Department’s progress in implementing its corrective actions to address our recommendations.”