A veteran official with the Department of Homeland Security claims he and other staff were ordered to destroy records on a federal database that showed links between possible jihadists and Islamic terrorist groups.
"After leaving my 15-year career at DHS, I can no longer be silent about the dangerous state of America’s counter-terror strategy, our leaders’ willingness to compromise the security of citizens for the ideological rigidity of political correctness—and, consequently, our vulnerability to devastating, mass-casualty attack," the former employee, Patrick Haney, wrote in an explosive column that was published late Friday on The Hill website.
Haney alleges that the Obama administration has been "engaged in a bureaucratic effort" to destroy the raw material and intelligence the Department of Homeland Security has been collecting for years, leaving the United States open to mass-casualty attacks.
His story starts in 2009, when during the holiday travel season, a 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253, with explosives packed in his underwear and the hopes of slaughtering 290 travelers flying on Christmas Day from the Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan. Passengers subdued the jihadist and he was arrested, thwarting the plot.
After the attempt, Haney writes, President Barack Obama "threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to 'connect the dots,' saying that it was not a failure to collect the intelligence that could have stopped the attack, but rather "'a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.'"
But most Americans were not aware that the Department of Homeland Security's employees suffered enormous damage to their morale from Obama's words, Haney said.
Further, many were infuriated "because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material — the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots. The dots constitute the intelligence needed to keep Americans safe, and the Obama administration was ordering they be wiped away."
Just one month before the attempted attack, Haney said, his DHS supervisors ordered him to either delete or modify the records for several hundred people tied to Islamist terror organizations, including Hamas, from the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, the federal database.
Those records give DHS the ability to "connect dots," explained Haney, and every day, the agency's Custom and Border Protection officials use the database while watching people who are associated with known terrorist affiliations seeking patterns that could indicate a pending attack.
"Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that," said Haney.
"Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database," he wrote.
And even weeks after the attempted Christmas Day attack, Haney said, he was still being ordered to delete and scrub terrorists' records, making it more difficult to connect dots in the future.
The number of attempted and successful Islamic terrorist attacks kept increasing, notes Haney, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, conducted by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev; Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez' shooting of two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee last year; the attack conducted by Faisal Shahzad in May 2010; Detroit "honor" killer Rahim Alfatlawi in 2011; Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol in 2012; and Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen in 2014.
He believes it is "very plausible" that one or more of those homeland incidents could have been prevented, if DHS subject matter experts had been allowed to keep doing their jobs.
"It is demoralizing — and infuriating — that today, those elusive dots are even harder to find, and harder to connect, than they were during the winter of 2009," Haney concluded.
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