Skip to main content

U.S. officials combing data from bin Laden compound, Holder says

By Jim Barnett, CNN Senior Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Holder says he expects data to yield names that will be added to terrorist watch lists
  • Napolitano says intelligence is already being shared with Homeland Security
  • There is no specific or credible intelligence that would lead to issuing an alert under this new alert system, she says

Washington (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder predicted Wednesday more names will be added to U.S. terrorist watch lists as law enforcement agencies review the evidence gathered in Pakistan after the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound on Monday.

"The material that was seized from that residence is being reviewed by an inter-agency team: CIA, Justice, other intelligence agencies, other law enforcement agencies are contributing people and machines to go through that material. As we glean information from that material, we will make appropriate decisions with regard to who might we add to the terrorist watch list, the No Fly list, all those things," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, asked, "You expect you probably will add people as a result of what you got?"

Holder replied, "My guess is that we probably will."

The attorney general also told lawmakers the Justice Department is looking at the possibilities of retaliation from terrorists in the short term.

"I had a conference call with all of the United States attorneys, I believe on Tuesday maybe on Monday, going through with them 'think steps' that we wanted them to take, making sure they as well as all the federal investigative agencies, were on their toes and being mindful of the fact that this is a difficult time for this nation after the death of bin Laden," Holder said.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also told Congress Wednesday a "number of actions" have been taken in response to the killing of bin Laden, among them "surging some resources" to U.S. ports, airports and borders.

"These include issuing advisories to fusion center directors, Homeland Security advisers, major city chief intelligence commanders, private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators and other law enforcement entities. We are and have been reviewing all open cases of potential al Qaeda core, AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) operatives possibly in the U.S. in conjunction with the FBI," she said at a Senate hearing.

"We are continuing to strengthen our recurrent vetting for visa, asylum and other benefit applicants and recipients in cooperation with the intel community. We are deploying additional officers to non-secured areas at our large airports, the so called category X airports and we are providing additional info to all air carriers," Napolitano added.

Sen. Joe Leiberman, the Connecticut Independent who is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked Napolitano about the data removed by the Navy SEALs from the bin Laden compound. "I assume that as this material is gone over, anything related to Homeland Security will be shared immediately with your department?" he asked. Napolitano responded, "It is being shared (already)."

The new National Terrorism Advisory System, which replaced the color-coded terrorist threat alert last month, has not been changed in the aftermath of last weekend's raid and recovery of computers, hard drives, DVDs, thumb drives and storage devices.

"Right now, we do not have any specific or credible intel that would lead us to issue an alert under this new system, realizing that under this new system the baseline is already elevated," Napolitano said. "In other words, the baseline assumes a continuing and evolving terrorist threat against the United States. We continue to review on an ongoing basis all materials seized during the operation as well as new intel that may be coming in, and I stand ready to issue an alert should intel or information emerge that warrants it under the advisory, the new advisory system," she added.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, questioned the purpose of the new system. "If we're always on the same constant level of alert, that just degrades over time. Again, I'm just kind of scratching my head," he said.

Napolitano responded, "If I might, senator. That was the problem with the color code, because we were always at orange and nobody paid any attention. The purpose of the advisory, in my view, is to communicate facts and information so people know what to do. So if we elevate the advisory it will be followed by information, what are the facts that we can disclose, what can people do to protect themselves and their families, where can people go to get updated information, how can people help us help them. So it's not just to be alert.

"We are always on alert, that's the elevated base, but now we would be providing additional facts based on the intel we receive that tells people what to do."

 
Quick Job Search