As the facts concerning the attempted destruction of the Northwest Airlines flight are made public, many of the questions that many of us may have will probably be answered, but as more facts are known, it is probable that more questions will be raised.
As a former special agent of the INS I am particularly concerned about the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the visa to the 23 year old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is in custody and facing serious charges pertaining to his apparent efforts to detonate a bomb onboard the airliner as it was approaching Detroit in preparation for landing on Friday.
First of all, the visa process is supposed to act as the first line of defense to prevent the entry of aliens into the United States whose presence in our country would have a harmful effect. There is a list of aliens who are not supposed to be granted visas or admitted into the United States. Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act enumerates all of those categories of aliens and can be found by clicking on the link to the appropriate United States Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html
As you will see if you go to that website, the section begins with the following statement:
Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act reads:
(g) No visa or other documentation shall be issued to an alien if (1) it appears to the consular officer, from statements in the application, or in the papers submitted therewith, that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law, (2) the application fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, or the regulations issued there under, or (3) the consular officer knows or has reason to believe that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law…
That section of law goes on to list a fairly inclusive list of categories of excludible aliens including those who are infected with dangerous communicable diseases, those who have been convicted of committing felonies, those who have engaged in smuggling and human trafficking, etc.
Then we come to the section of this law that apparently deals with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. I have copied this passage directly from the law as posted on the State Department Website:
(3) Security and related grounds.-
(A) In general.-Any alien who a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in-
(i) any activity (I) to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage or (II) to violate or evade any law prohibiting the export from the United States of goods, technology, or sensitive information,
(ii) any other unlawful activity, or
(iii) any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means, is inadmissible.
(B) Terrorist activities-
(i) IN GENERAL.-Any alien who-
(I) has engaged in a terrorist activity,
(II) a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity (as defined in clause (iv)),
(III) has, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorist activity,
(IV) is a representative (as defined in clause (v)) of-
(aa) a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary of State under section 219, or
(bb) a political, social or other similar group whose public endorsement of acts of terrorist activity the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities,
(V) is a member of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary under section 219, or is inadmissible. An alien who is an officer, official, representative, or spokesman of the Palestine Liberation Organization is considered, for purposes of this Act, to be engaged in a terrorist activity.
(VI) has used the alien’s position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities, or
(VII) is the spouse or child of an alien who is inadmissible under this section, if the activity causing the alien to be found inadmissible occurred within the last 5 years,
When the father of an alien is so concerned as to the potential that his own son may be involved in terrorism, it would appear to be reasonable and prudent to take the concerns of that worried parent into account.
Furthermore, although an alien may have been granted a visa to enter the United States, the actual entry of that alien into the United States is still a matter to be determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector at the port of entry at which the alien applies for admission into the United States.
Furthermore, the father of the alleged terrorist in this case, Umaru Abdul Mutallab has been identified as having recently retired as the chairman of one of the most important banks of Nigeria. Clearly this adds immeasurably to the credibility of the source of the information concerning the terror suspect. Yet, apparently, nothing was done to add the suspect’s name to the much touted “No Fly” list. I am also quite curious as to whether or not the State Department was prepared to revoke the visa they had issued to the terror suspect of if they had furnished the information they had apparently received to CBP to make certain that he was not admitted into the United States.
As I have noted on many previous occasions, our nation has actually expanded the Visa Waiver Program to now include some 35 countries even as the citizens of our country have witnessed a steady erosion in our expectations of privacy and freedom, all in the name of “national security.”
Of course, in this case the Visa Waiver Program was not a factor, but I would suggest that the mindset that is behind the expansion of that insane program is also to be found behind the scenes here.
The travel and hospitality industries have created a program that they call, “Discover America.” They have spent unknown millions of dollars to push this program to entice large numbers of tourists and business travelers to come to the United States to help maximize their profits. Towards this goal they have even hired Tom Ridge, our nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security, to help them promote this program.
I am a fan of commerce and trade, but not at any and all costs. If the corporate executives who are so eager to boost their profits would take a moment to reflect on precisely what happened on September 11, 2001 they may recall that not only were three thousand innocent men, women and children viciously and savagely annihilated in an outrageous act of violence, but that in the wake of those attacks, the travel industry nearly went out of business. People refused to travel and it took months for the travel industry to begin to see the slightest of increases in the willingness of people to board airliners and fly anywhere in the United States and, indeed, in many other parts of the world.
The problem is, as I have often noted, where “DIscover America” is concerned, al-Qaeda has already discovered America!
The visa issuing process needs to be more than a mere formality!
The equally important inspections process at ports of entry also need to be more than illusory, designed to provide the illusion that foreign visitors are being scrutinized.
On May 11, 2006 I was invited to testify at a Congressional hearing conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives on the topic:
“VISA OVERSTAYS: CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?”
You can read the transcript of that hearing, in its entirety at: http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/intlrel/hfa27480.000/hfa27480_0f.htm
The threat of terrorism has not ended. The “all clear” has yet to be sounded. However, our nation’s leaders are failing to understand the critically important role that the visa process and the immigration system play in securing our nation against the nefarious objectives of criminal and terrorist organizations who have our nation and our citizens squarely in their sights. Once again a bill is making its way through the Congress that would provide millions of illegal aliens whose identities, backgrounds, affiliations and intentions are unknown and unknowable with lawful status that would enable terrorists to easily acquire lawful status in false names that would conceal their true identities and, in a manner of speaking, provide them with their own “witness protection program” that would create nothing short of a national security nightmare.
I am certain that the “usual suspects” will stand before the microphones and cameras and talk about how nothing could have been done to prevent the terror suspect from boarding that airliner a couple of days ago. Frankly, if you believe that story, then you must accept that our government is absolutely incapable of preventing a terrorist attack! We have seen the government remove corporate executives in a violation of the concept of the free enterprise system that is the hallmark of our economic system. These executives were sent packing because they failed to meet certain standards. The time has come for high ranking “leaders” in our government to be made at least as accountable!
To quote Gene Kranz, the flight director at Mission Control whose leadership help to guide our nation’s space program from the early days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs including the incredible achievement he and his team scored when they succeeded in bringing the Apollo 13 crew back from the moon after a massive explosion crippled the service module of that mission, “Failure is not an option!” In this perilous era, failure may result in the death of thousands of our citizens.
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!
Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors health care for illegal aliens and/or Comprehensive Immigration Reform should be shown the door at the next election!
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.
Next year each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Next year more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!
However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there. The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines! The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians. I implore you to get involved!
Any American who has lost his job certainly has enough time on his (her) hands to get involved!
Any American who fears the loss of his job must make effective use of his spare time to make certain he keeps his job! (Remember, the job save may be your own!) If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them. All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are! We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era.
The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue! You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Lead, follow or get out of the way!