Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ammonium Nitrate Witness List

Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee posted the witness list for tomorrow’s closed subcommittee hearing on “Securing Ammonium Nitrate: Using Lessons Learned in Afghanistan to Protect the Homeland from IEDs”. Two of the witnesses are what one would normally expect at a hearing of this nature, but the third is a bit odd.

The Director of the DOD Joint IED Defeat Organization, LTG Barbero, will be providing the bulk of the technical information on IED’s and their detection and neutralization. Since this is neither an intelligence panel nor an armed services panel, I would be very surprised if his prepared testimony were to be classified. He could supply loads of classified information if necessary, I’m sure.

The second expected witness is from the GAO, this time the Director of International Counterterrorism & Security Assistance Issues, Charles Johnson, Jr. The report that he will present will probably deal with the success, or lack thereof, of controlling the movement of ammonium nitrate into and around Afghanistan. Again, looking at the intended audience, it would be unusual for this to be a classified report.

The unusual witness for this panel is the Assistant Director of Homeland Security Investigations at DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now ICE certainly works overseas and probably has a team in Afghanistan working on all sorts of interesting issues. I really doubt, however, that they are very concerned about someone smuggling ammonium nitrate from Afghanistan into the United States; there is much more ammonium nitrate in commerce in this country than probably all of Southeast Asia.

So that leaves us with the ‘Immigration’ portion of ICE… See my last blog post on this topic.

BTW: The Committee web site still has the standard bit about “full text of testimony available upon commencement of hearing”. If I’m right about the unclassified nature of the prepared testimony from LTG Barbero and Mr. Johnson, it may be published on-line tomorrow morning at about 10:00 a.m. EDT. If Chairman Lungren is interested in sharing information, an unclassified version of any classified testimony will be posted on the hearing web site.

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