Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D?MD), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, sought answers today on who is responsible for analyzing terrorism information and taking the necessary follow-up actions to protect the American people. Senator Cardin’s questions came during a Judiciary Committee hearing entitled
“Securing America’s Safety: Improving the Effectiveness of Anti-terrorism Tools and Interagency Communication,” with representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.
“Information sharing and interagency coordination have come a long way since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight on Christmas Day proves that our ability to detect terrorist threats still has gaps. It is clear that terrorism-related information on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was available, but no one acted on that information enough to challenge him before he boarded the airplane. Having access to the right information has little or no value if it is not pushed, on an ongoing basis, to the specific agencies that have the responsibility to both analyze it and take follow-up action, as necessary. We need to explore real-time connections that can constantly update terrorist-related data so that alerts can be sent and seen before terrorists are able to board airplanes.
“Our top priority in Congress is to protect the American people, and our law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security professionals have successfully disrupted and prevented numerous terrorist threats. But we need to take a hard look on what additional steps must be taken, particularly improving our watch listing and screening procedures.
“I look forward to working with the Administration and Congress as we continue to examine our procedures to ensure that our government is using its scare resources wisely, and that it is striking an appropriate balance between national security and protecting civil liberties.”
Senator Cardin chaired a portion of today’s hearing on the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. As chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security subcommittee, he also chaired a hearing in April 2009 on strategies for terrorism information sharing.