A former Department of Homeland Security employee accused the Obama administration of forcing him to scrub records from the agency's counterterror databases that detail Muslims with connections to terrorist groups that could have prevented deadly terror attacks on American soil.
In the wake of President Barack Obama's visit last week to a Baltimore mosque that some conservatives say has ties to terrorist groups like Muslim Brotherhood, former DHS employee Philip Haney wrote a Friday op-ed for The Hill arguing that the Obama administration has put Americans' lives in danger for the sake of political correctness.
"After leaving my 15 year career at DHS, I can no longer be silent about the dangerous state of America's counter-terror strategy," Haney wrote. "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."
Haney began by detailing a failed terrorist attack in 2009, when jihadis planned to kill over 290 travelers on a Christmas Day flight from the Netherlands to Detroit. He explained that a Nigerian terrorist attempted to detonate explosives while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253. However, his explosives malfunctioned causing the terrorist plot to be unsuccessful.
Haney explained that although Obama later "threw the intelligence community under the bus" for not being able to "connect the dots" and prevent the jihadi from even getting on the plane, it was the Obama administration days before the attack who ordered the DHS to "delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS)."
"These types of records are the basis for any ability to 'connect dots.' Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns," Haney wrote. "Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database."
"A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack," Haney continued. "While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to 'connect the dots' in the future — especially before an attack occurs."
As Americans are becoming increasingly concerned by the rise in extremist violence around the world and at home, Haney states that scrubbing such information has made America less safe.
Haney added that the information that he was forced to delete or modify could have been vital to preventing recent deadly extremist attacks on American soil, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 that killed five Americans and injured 280 others, the beheading of an Oklahoma woman in 2014 and the shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee last July that cost five Americans their lives and wounded two others.
"It is very plausible that one or more of the subsequent terror attacks on the homeland could have been prevented if more subject matter experts in the Department of Homeland Security had been allowed to do our jobs back in late 2009," Haney said. "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."
In December, Haney sent a letter to members of Congress stating that the U.S. State Department and DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties closed down his investigation on a number of terrorist groups. The perpetrators of the December attack in San Bernardino, California had connections to some of these groups.
If Haney was allowed to have continued with that investigation, he believes that the San Bernardino shooting, which killed 14 and injured 22, could have been prevented.
Haney concludes that he is not confident in the administration's abilities to "adequately vet or screen refugees or immigrants from Islamic countries."
Jerry Johnson, president and CEO of National Religous Broadcasters, tweeted Sunday that Haney will be at the NRB Convention, Feb. 23-26, in Nashville.