By Kurt Haskell
As I previously indicated, I contacted my political representatives early in January regarding my concerns over the Flight 253 matter. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin have to date, failed to respond to me in any way. John Dingell, however, did recently send me a letter. The letter, dated January 25, 2010, was received by me on February 26, 2010. What follows is a word for word transcript of the letter:
January 25, 2010
Dear Mr. Haskell:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the need to protect our country against terrorism. I understand your concern and appreciate your comments.
As you may know, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was a passenger flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Michigan on December 25, 2009. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Passenger aboard the flight, attempted to set off plastic explosives sewn to his underwear as the plane reached its final descent. The plastic explosives failed to detonate properly, resulting only in flames and popping sounds. A Dutch passenger, Jasper Schuringa, tackled and restrained him as others put out the fire.
On January 6, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Abdulmutallab on six criminal charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in prison plus 90 years. The next day, President Obama released the "White House Review Summary Regarding 12/25/2009 Attempted Terrorist Attack," which can be found online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/white-house-review-summary-regarding-12252009-attempted-terrorist-attack. Disturbing preliminary reports indicate U.S. intelligence agencies had sufficient information to have uncovered and potentially disrupted the December 25th attack.
A complete investigation into the attack is being conducted by the Detroit Joint Terrorist Task Force which is led by the FBI and includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Air Marshal Service, and other law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Eric Holder has claimed, "this invesitgation is fast paced, global and ongoing, and it has already yielded valuable intelligence that we will follow wherever it leads. Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be brought to justice using every tool- military or judicial-available to our government."
I am committed to ensuring that our nation is safe from terrorist attacks. I am greatly concerned that Abdulmutallab was allowed to board the plane and enter U.S. airspace despite being flagged in at least one U.S. intelligence database of potential terrorism threats. I agree with President Obama on the necessity of a through investigation into this incident. Serious questions remain about the miscommunication between our various intelligence agencies and whether information sharing between them is effective. Although Abdulmutallab was unsuccessful in his attempt, without better precautions, our country will be vulnerable to future attempts . The proper Congressional Committees must exert their oversight authority and hold thorough investigations into this attempted attack and the systemic problems within our intelligence community. Rest assured I will continue to monitor the situation closely and will work with my colleagues to protect American citizens from extremist threats.
Again, thank you for being in touch. For news on current federal legislative issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/dingell; you can also sign up there to receive my e-newsletter. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me again if I may be of assistance with this or any other matter of concern.
With every good wish,