From NBC's Pete Williams
In a surprisingly candid statement, FBI Director Robert Mueller said he's concerned about bringing Gitmo detainees into the United States.
He told a House hearing today that they could radicalize others, even if held in U.S. high-security prisons. And he said if any detainees with terror training are ultimately ordered released, then it would present a challenge to the FBI to keep close tabs on them, either with physical surveillance or wiretaps.
*** UPDATE *** More from Williams: Mueller's statements before the House Judiciary Committee were surprising, given his ability to skillfully sidestep questions he'd rather not answer. A potential terrorist who comes into the U.S. "from whatever source" could provide financing, radicalize others -- even in prison -- and could try to carry out attacks, he said.
Pressed about whether detainees would pose a risk if held in a maximum security prison, such as Colorado's Supermax, Mueller said he doubts anyone sent there could escape. But he added, "In gang activity around the country, using it as an analogy, there are individuals in our prisons today who operate their gangs from inside the walls of prison. So while there may not be the opportunity to escape, there may still be the risk."
Mueller also said any detainees released into the U.S. by judges who deem them no longer dangerous would very likely be subjected to FBI surveillance.
"To the extent that persons who have some background in either supporting, facilitating, or training with terrorists, it would present a concern to which we would maximize our efforts to minimize and mitigate that concern, whether it be by surveillance or wires [wiretaps] or other efforts to assure that we have minimized that concern."
Mueller's comments differed from the assurances given to the same committee last week by Attorney General Eric Holder. He said no terrorists would ever be released into the U.S.