January 7, 2010
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL EXPLAINS TO NPR
HOW ACCUSED NORTHWEST BOMBER KEPT VISA,
AND WHY STATE DID NOT REVOKE VISA


INTERVIEW WITH UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE PATRICK KENNEDY
AIRING TOMORROW ON MORNING EDITION; EXCERPTS BELOW

January 7, 2010; Washington, D.C. In an interview airing tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition, Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy offers his department's perspective on how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man accused of attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day, was able to receive a multiple-entry visa, and why it was not revoked after his father gave a warning to U.S. officials. Kennedy's answers offer one agency's perspective on how the ways U.S. government agencies work together have changed since 9/11.

The interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep is airing tomorrow on Morning Edition and will be at www.npr.org at 9AM (ET); for local stations and broadcast times, visit www.npr.org/stations

During the interview, Kennedy explains how information is shared among U.S. intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism government agencies, and how each has a different ability to act on intelligence. Kennedy tells NPR that the State Department did not revoke Abdulmatallab's visa after receiving information from his father, because it was waiting for input from the other agencies. The following is an excerpt from the interview:

  • KENNEDY: We don't believe that one person at a post should make that decision on their own to reject that kind of information. As that frontline of national security, we take that information, we put it into the format that I talked about, and we dispatch that to every U.S. government agency involved, and say, 'here is a piece of information that has come into our possession. You, the community, writ large, you tell us, do you have any other pieces of information on this individual that will then guide the actions that we take.'

  • INSKEEP: Did you get anything back?

  • KENNEDY: No.

  • INSKEEP: No information whatsoever?

  • KENNEDY: No.

  • INSKEEP: Did the State Department or that consular section there in Nigeria, have enough information on its own to raise questions or even revoke that visa? Because the most incriminating piece of information about the gentleman was in your possession it seems.

  • KENNEDY: We had his father's statement of concerns, and therefore we take those very, very seriously, which is why we sent it in to the, to the as I said, to all the appropriate agencies, and said: 'What does this piece of information mean to you? Do you recommend revocation?' If the intelligence, law enforcement, anyone if someone had come back and said, 'put this piece of information together with other pieces of information,' we would have revoked the visa.

  • INSKEEP: But you didn't have enough on your own?

  • KENNEDY: There was not sufficient information in and of itself, is what we were told, to revoke the visa. Another thing I might say, is that the process developed by the community following 9/11, calls for this collective approach.
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Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C., and Renee Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, CA, is public radio's most listened-to program with 13.2 million weekly listeners. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.npr.org/stations