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Madam Speaker, an al Qaeda jihadist committed an act of war over the skies of Detroit on Christmas Day. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, working with al Qaeda in Yemen, sewed explosives into his underwear. He tried to blow up the plane over Detroit, but the detonator failed and the terrorist was captured by passengers. Counting on faulty detonators is not a sound national security policy. We should be stopping terrorists from boarding planes in the first place.
The underwear bomber got on the plane with a valid United States visa. Even though he was on a terrorist watch list, he boarded a plane for the U.S. anyway. After the 9/11 attacks, the State Department was ordered to open visa security units at all of our embassies. Eight years later, only 14 of the 220 American embassies have visa security units. Why is that?
The underwear bomber got his U.S. visa in London. He got to keep his visa even though his father told our embassy in Nigeria that his son was a dangerous radical. American embassies in London and Nigeria don't have a visa security unit. And when the bomber's own father told us he was dangerous, the information was ignored by our State Department.
The underwear bomber paid cash for a ticket, had no luggage, and he was on that watch list. The United States State Department was warned by the bomber's father that he was a threat. He had even previously been denied entry into the United Kingdom because he applied for a visa to go to a college that doesn't exist in the United Kingdom. But U.S. authorities let him fly the friendly skies anyway. He should not have been allowed on that airplane. The American people have the right to know why our Nation allowed this person to enter the United States with a visa, knowing all of these facts.
After the failed attack, Abdulmutallab bragged about 20 more terrorists preparing to attack the United States. He said they were also training in Yemen. According to Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission, He was singing like a canary, then we charged him in Federal court, he got a lawyer, and he quit talking. Instead of turning the terrorist over to the military authorities for interrogation, or even letting him just keep on talking, the administration treated this individual like a 2-bit car thief. They told him he had the right to remain silent, and then they got this jihadist a lawyer on the public dime and he quit talking.
Under the new "try the terrorists in Federal court" policy, America has lost the ability to get vital information about al Qaeda. America is probably less safe as a result. The bomber could and should have been tried in a military court. There are legal allowances for enemies like the underwear bomber. And as an enemy combatant, he should have been held and interrogated by military officials under existing law.
In Federal court now they're even talking about offering this terrorist a plea deal to get some information that he was willing to offer earlier with no deal. Now we are making a deal with the Devil. So the terrorists can avoid justice and get leniency by making a backroom agreement with authorities.
Another problem these jihadists have, they are not your average, everyday criminals. They are radical jihadists on a mission to kill themselves and every American they can take with them. A few years in prison is not going to deter their mission. To the contrary, these who kill in the name of religion try to kill their prison guards. It's happened in the United States.
Louis Pepe was once a prison guard at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Ten months before the 9/