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October 11, 2011

Interagency Cooperation on Assassination Plot Investigation
Posted by James Lamond

Everyone has by now heard the news about the attempted assassination plot on U.S. soil. There are many questions that do not have clear answers – including what was Iran thinking? But certainly towards the top of the list is why some in Congress are trying to do away with the very tools that disrupted this plot?

Juliette Kayyem, who before her role at Harvard was Assistant Secretary at DHS, writes today that: 

I have been in government long enough to say almost nothing about an unfolding case. I have a lot of confidence in Holder's team but unless or until you know the evidence, better to be quiet. But an irony that cannot be ignored is this: As our strongest law enforcement agency was using investigative techniques, the judicial system and good old fashion rule of law, Congress was at the same exact time considering controversial detainee provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would - yes, the irony is deep – remove civilian courts and law enforcement from most counterterrorism efforts.

As I wrote about last week, and NSN put out today, there are ongoing efforts in Congress that would essentially remove any civilian role in terrorism arrest, interrogation and prosecution. This includes agencies like the FBI and the DEA, who as we saw today are some of our best tools against terrorism. According to reports, the disruption of this plot appears to be the result of effective interagency, and international, cooperation at many different levels. The Department of Justice’s press release outlines th degree of cooperation: 

This investigation is being conducted by the FBI Houston Division and DEA Houston Division, with assistance from the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glen Kopp and Edward Kim, of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. State Department provided substantial assistance.  We thank the government of Mexico for its close coordination and collaboration in this matter, and for its role in ensuring that the defendant was safely apprehended.

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