Today, the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on the failed Christmas Day bombing. One of the administration officials who testified was National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asked whether anyone had been “held accountable” for the intelligence lapses, saying that the “facts” of what happened were “clear.” However, McCain’s summary distorted a couple of key facts. When Leiter tried to correct him, McCain became defensive and tried to accuse Leiter of avoiding his question:
McCAIN: I think everybody knows the facts of the Christmas bomber. A person buys a ticket with cash, one-way ticket. His father has already warned the CIA. The series of missteps have taken place, what were — led to this near tragedy. … It’s fairly clear the facts of what happened, isn’t it?
LEITER: Well, actually I think many of the facts are clear. I would correct the record on a couple of points. In fact, the fact is not that he bought a one-way ticket, he bought a round-trip ticket. The fact that he used cash, frankly, is in Africa, completely and utterly —
MCCAIN: That was in Copenhagen, not Africa.
LEITER: No, sir. I believe he bought —
MCCAIN: Did he have someone who facilitated — if you think — if you’re defending –
LEITER: No, sir –
MCCAIN: – that we shouldn’t have found — shouldn’t have been alerted to this individual, sir, then –
LEITER: Then I apologize.
Leiter didn’t need to apologize; he was just trying to get the correct facts on record. The accused Christmas Day bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, did not have a one-way ticket, but rather paid $2,831 for a round-trip ticket from Nigeria to Detroit via Amsterdam. He “bought his ticket with cash in Ghana eight days before the flight departed Nigeria” — not in Copenhagen, as McCain claimed. (HT: TPMmuckraker)