The main news today from FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today was his surprisingly candid assessment of the dangers to national security of housing ex-Gitmo al-Qaeda detainees in U.S. prisons. Mueller said he’s not afraid of any detainees breaking out. Rather, he fears that like drug gang members, the detainees could find ways in prison to keep in touch with terrorist networks. It was another blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to find a way to close Gitmo.
But that’s not what we found most interesting. It was this exchange between Mueller and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) that raised our eyebrows, just a little:
LUNGREN: Does the name Lynne Stewart mean anything to you?
LUNGREN: And Lynne Stewart is?
MUELLER: I believe she was involved with a radical group — I’m having trouble…
LUNGREN: Well, she was a defense attorney representing the blind sheik.
MUELLER: Ah, yes, that’s…
LUNGREN: And I believe she’s been convicted of federal offenses relating to being a conveyor of information from the blind sheik inside the prison setting to those outside.
Does that refresh your recollection?
Oh, man. I know the FBI director has a lot on his plate. But how could he forget the furor over the 2002 arrest of the lefty civil rights lawyer for passing information from the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, who helped run a precursor organization to al-Qaeda in Brooklyn, to his followers in the Middle East? That was a huge and controversial case. The blind sheik was convicted for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks, and evidence in the trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers linked his organization to that plot as well.
But then again, it took Mueller years and years to figure out why the FBI shouldn’t be hanging out with members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.