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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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national lead

May 16th, 2013
04:29 PM ET

First on CNN: Witness Protection Program lost two 'known or suspected terrorists'

This report has been updated. 

By Jake Tapper, CNN Chief Washington Correspondent

The U.S. Marshals Service lost two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program “identified as known or suspected terrorists,” according to the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General’s report obtained by CNN.

The Marshals Service has concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States,” according to the summary.

A Justice Department official said in response to follow up questions about the matter by reporters that the pair had left the program years ago and had been accounted for.

It was not clear when or for how long the Marshals Service lost track of them.

Read the public summary here.

The report notes that while in the middle of an audit of the WITSEC program, also referred to as "WitSec," the IG notified the Justice Department of national security vulnerabilities, and the IG’s office “developed the interim report to help ensure that the Department promptly and sufficiently addressed the deficiencies we found.”

After its audit, the IG’s office reported “the department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC program,” among other “significant issues concerning national security.”
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First on CNN: Pickering, Mullen challenge Issa to let them testify in public

national lead

May 16th, 2013
07:01 AM ET

First on CNN: Pickering, Mullen challenge Issa to let them testify in public

By CNN's Jake Tapper and Alison Harding

In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa exclusively obtained by CNN, the co-chairmen behind an independent review of September's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, expressed irritation over the House Oversight Committee chairman's portrayal of their work and requested he call a public hearing at which they can testify.

"The public deserves to hear your questions and our answers," wrote former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, co-chairmen of the Accountability Review Board that was convened to investigate the September 11th attack.

READ THE LETTER HERE

Eight months after their report cited "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department," Issa continues to be a leading critic of the accountability board, calling its review "a failure" and asking for further investigations into the Obama administration's response during the attack and its aftermath.

The dispute between Issa and the co-chairmen came to a head after neither Pickering nor Mullen attended a May 8 House Oversight Committee hearing on the attacks, sparking a heated back and forth about who was invited and when. The rhetoric intensified Sunday during a highly contentious joint appearance with Issa and Pickering on NBC's "Meet the Press" in which Issa maintained the two "refused to come before our committee." Pickering insisted that he was not invited despite expressing a willingness to testify.

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