Witness Protection Program Loses Two 'Known or Suspected' Terrorists, Lets Others Onto Commercial Flights

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The U.S. Marshals Service lost track of two individuals “identified as known or suspected terrorists” who participated in the federal Witness Security Program, according to a report by the interim Justice Department Inspector General.

In the summary, the Marshals Service states, “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.”

The Justice Department told the press Thursday that the witnesses have since been located.

"We know they left the country years ago, they left the program years ago, they have been accounted for. There has been no information provided that they have ever returned to the United States," a Justice Department official told reporters in a conference call.

The report also found that the no-fly list had not been updated with the new names after witnesses were given new identities.

"Therefore, it was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the United States and evade one of the government's primary means of identifying and tracking terrorists' movements and actions," the report said. 

The report stated “some” witnesses were actually allowed to fly.

"This is gross mismanagement -- pure and simple," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement. 

According to the report, the agency “did not definitely know” how many known or suspected terrorists were even in the witness program. As of March 2013, the case files of 18,000 witnesses are being reviewed by the Justice Department to pinpoint just how many were admitted to the program. Therefore the number of those lost or unaccounted for “may not be complete and may continue to evolve.”

"Today's IG report shows that the Justice Department continues to repeat the same mistakes that were made prior to 9/11," said Goodlatte.

He said the House Judiciary Committee will hold a meeting on the matter.

Sources: CNN, Fox News