National Security And An Updated Version of ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’

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A few years ago I wrote a commentary about the various ways in which aliens enter our country in violation of law. In order to explain the many ways that our nation is vulnerable to the unlawful entry of foreign nationals, I decided to copy the beginning of the famous poem by Henry Wasdsworth Longfellow, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

We have been following the terrorist investigations and news reports about how terrorists and criminal aliens I prefer to refer to as transnational criminals because criminals of foreign countries who operate in our nation are able to easily evade law enforcement authorities by fleeing from our country when they suspect that they are about to be arrested and hide in their home countries- often safe from the grasp of our federal agents and police officers. This is, in fact, an advantage that criminal aliens have over United States citizen criminals.

These news reports note how these individuals were able to gain access to our nation and hence endanger national security and the lives of our citizens.

As I have worked to make our fellow citizens and especially our “leaders” understand these serious vulnerabilities I have been frustrated by our nation’s continuing failure to secure its borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity. Therefore I decided to begin this commentary with the first two paragraphs of that poem and repeat what I stated in that earlier commentary as we explore just how insane the situation is.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five; Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch Of the North Church tower, as a signal light, – One, if by land, and two, if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

Paul Revere had it relatively easy, there were only two possibilities. The British invaders could only come by land or by sea. Today, were Mr. Revere alive and decided to continue his now “low tech” method to communicate how illegal aliens and criminals and terrorists among them were entering the United States, he would need to have his friend place so many lanterns in the North Church tower that the tower would have probably burned to the ground!

Let us consider some of the many ways that illegal aliens and potentially criminals and terrorists can gain entry into our country:

1. Running the Mexican border

2. Running the Canadian border

3. Stowing away on a ship

4. Entering the United States through a port of entry under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program (This enables aliens from 35 countries to enter our country without first applying for and obtaining a nonimmigrant visa.)

5. Procuring a nonimmigrant tourist visa by filing a fraudulent application.

6. Entering the United States with a valid visa and then violating the terms of the visa such as overstaying the period of time for which he was admitted. (US VISIT is not currently able to track the departure of aliens who are admitted for a temporary period.)

7. Procuring a nonimmigrant student visa and then not attending the school for which the visa was issued- (Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, the 19 year old terror suspect who was arrested several days ago while plotting to use explosives to destroy an office building in Dallas, Texas is an example of this method of entry and embedding in our country as was Nada Nadim Prouty, a woman from Lebanon who entered the United States on a student visa roughly 20 years ago who went on to commit immigration fraud and ultimately acquire United States citizenship. She parlayed her naturalization certificate into a security clearance and a job at the FBI and CIA where she used her clearance to access sensitive databases to spy on our country for Hezbollah!)

8. Applying for and receiving an immigrant visa based on a fraud marriage. (If successful, this ploy provides the alien with a “green card” and puts him (her) on the path to United States citizenship.)

9. Applying for and receiving an immigrant visa based on a fraud job offer, as is the case with the marriage fraud, the alien would receive a “green card” and would place the alien on the path to United States citizenship.

10. Applying for political asylum by making a false claim of “credible fear.” (Mir Aimal Kansi used this ploy. In January 1993, roughly one month before the first attack on the World Trade Center, he stood outside the headquarters of the CIA in Virginia and opened fire on CIA employees who were arriving for what they had thought would be a routine day at work. Two CIA officials died and three were wounded.)

I have stopped this list on the tenth item but there are other ways I have not listed. This is why I refer to immigration as a “system.”

If you were attempting to burglar proof you house I do not think you would be satisfied to simply reinforce your back door and declare your house to be “burglar proof!” You would secure all of your doors, all of your windows, all of your skylights and then have a locksmith install solid locks. You would retain strict control over the keys to those locks and then you would probably install a burglar alarm to automatically summon help if some really persistent burglar managed to break in.

If you were really serious about the security of you house, you might also consider putting up a fence, installing effective lighting and trimming the trees and shrubs that are located close to the windows and doors of your house to deprive a burglar or criminal the opportunity to hide in the shrubs. There are still more measures you might consider, but you certainly get the idea. Security is best done in layers and must be thought of as a system.

As responsible people we attempt to identify vulnerabilities and find reasonable and effective methods of addressing these vulnerabilities.

To give you an example of this, consider the sign most public parking garages where attendants park your car for you post in a prominent location. The sign simply reads, “Leave only your ignition key!”

I am sure most of you realize why that sign is there but if you don’t, here is the reason. A number of years ago it was discovered that some larcenous individuals got jobs at those garages. When a motorist left his house key along with the ignition key these employees would make a copy of that key and find out the address through the license plate on the car. All that remained was for one of their cohorts to wait for the hapless person to drive off to work. Armed with a copy of the key to the front door of his victim’s house, he could simply walk through that front door and no one driving by would see any evidence of a burglary in progress.

A couple of weeks ago police in New York discovered a variation on this MO- crooks would break into expensive cars and take the garage door remote control. They could find the address through the license plate and then enter the garage of the house. Most houses provide access to the house through the garage. The police are now advising people to take their garage door openers with them when they park their cars.

A so-called “Green Card” and especially United States citizenship represents the key to the “front door” of the United States. Each year many thousands of aliens acquire resident alien status and even United States citizenship through fraud. This is no different from the burglar who surreptitiously makes a copy of his victim’s house key. Yet while most responsible people prevent this from happening to them, our country is still not even addressing the vulnerability that has enabled criminals and especially terrorists to gain total access to our nation as an “embedding” tactic.

Consider all of the ways in which aliens violate our borders and our immigration laws. Consider as well that more than 8 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 these areas of vulnerability are still not being effectively dealt with!

Consider the sentence from the FBI press release I have attached below:

“Zazi and others traveled in interstate and foreign commerce, used email and the Internet, and that this offense and the results of the offense would have affected interstate and foreign commerce.”

As a resident alien, Zazi was able to easily travel around our country and across our nation’s borders. This is one of the reasons that terrorist organizations are eager to either convert resident aliens to “believers” of their radical ideology or seek to find ways of enabling their members to enter the United States and acquire resident alien status and, ideally, United States citizenship.

It has also been noted that the same MO was utilized by key members of the terror cells that carried out attacks in Europe a few years ago.

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WASHINGTON “The Justice Department today announced that Najibullah Zazi, 24, a resident of Aurora, Colo., and legal permanent resident of the United States from Afghanistan, has been indicted in the Eastern District of New York on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States.

FBI agents in Colorado first arrested Zazi on Sept. 19, 2009 pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism. Zazi made an initial court appearance on those charges in the District of Colorado on Sept. 21, 2009. The government will ask that those charges be dismissed and that Zazi be transferred to New York to face this new charge.

Yesterday, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a one-count indictment alleging that between Aug. 1, 2008 and Sept. 21, 2009, Zazi knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to use one or more weapons of mass destruction, specifically explosive bombs and other similar explosive devices, against persons or property within the United States. The indictment also alleges that, in furtherance of this offense, Zazi and others traveled in interstate and foreign commerce, used email and the Internet, and that this offense and the results of the offense would have affected interstate and foreign commerce.

“The indictment alleges that Najibullah Zazi conspired with others to use explosive devices against persons or property in the United States,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are investigating a wide range of leads related to this alleged conspiracy, and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that anyone involved is brought to justice. We believe any imminent threat arising from this case has been disrupted, but as always, we remind the American public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

In a detention motion filed in the Eastern District of New York and the District of Colorado, the government stated, “In furtherance of the conspiracy, Zazi received detailed bomb-making instructions in Pakistan, purchased components of improvised explosive devices, and traveled to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of his criminal plans.”

The government’s detention memo further states that “Zazi remained committed to detonating an explosive device up until the date of his arrest, as exemplified by among other things, traveling overseas to receive bomb-making instructions, conducting extensive research on the internet regarding components of explosive devices, purchasing on multiple occasions the components necessary to produce TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] and other explosive devices, and traveling to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of the criminal plan.”

The Justice Department will seek to have Zazi transferred from the District of Colorado to the Eastern District of New York to be arraigned on the charge in the Brooklyn indictment. If convicted of the charge in the indictment, Zazi faces a potential sentence of life in prison.

The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The investigation is being conducted by the New York and Denver FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which combined have investigators from more than fifty federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

White House FBI.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice.

The 9/11 Commission made it clear that the attacks of September 11, 2001 could not have been carried out if the terrorists had been unable to enter the United States. They could not have carried out the attacks if when a number of them had encounters with local law enforcement if the cops had contacted immigration authorities and if the INS (the agency at that time that was charged with enforcing the immigration laws) had responded and acted appropriately.

Before we go any further, I want to make this point as clearly as I know how. Only a relative handful of aliens are involved in terrorist activities but when you realize the damage that just 19 terrorists did our nation and the magnitude of the mass murder that they carried out on September 11, 2001, it becomes clear that just as each and every airline passenger is scrutinized before being allowed to board airliners because our government has come to understand that airliners can (and were) used as a horrific form of “cruise missiles” on 9/11 killing all on board those airliners as well as those who were in the buildings that were struck by those airliners, our nation must make a comparable effort to thwart terrorists who would enter our nation and embed themselves in communities around our nation in preparation for future attacks.

I have attached a news report below about a terror suspect who was arrested in Dallas, Texas who was intent on planting explosives.

The news report addresses the fact that the suspect in the Dallas terrorism case, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was a citizen of Jordan who had been admitted into the United States to attend school- a school he failed to attend. It is of further importance to note that he had been stopped by a Dallas police officer for driving without a license but that it is the policy of Dallas police to not inquire about immigration status when encountering individuals in the course of performing their official duties.

This is absolutely nuts!

When a cop stops a driver he (she) routinely calls in the driver’s name, date of birth and other identifiers to determine if the individual is wanted by any law enforcement agencies. This includes federal agencies. In fact, I recall reading that it is estimated that perhaps as many as one half of the FBI’s “Ten most wanted” are actually arrested pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. This is the reason that one of the most dangerous activities a law enforcement officer can perform is to stop a car- the police officer has no idea as to the identity of the individual(s) in the car he stops.

Furthermore, when a police officer issues a motorist a summons for a traffic infraction he actually has the option of arresting that person if he has reason to believe that the driver will fail to show up for a motor vehicle hearing. A driver who has no license is certainly not likely to show up for such a hearing! In fact, immigration status can be an important factor at any bail proceeding- bail is determined by two factors, danger to the community and risk of flight.

An illegal alien who has failed to show up for immigration hearings and, presumably forfeiting bonds in the process has already established a propensity to fail to show up for hearings. Furthermore, an individual who has used false names and has provided immigration officers with false and possibly nonexistent addresses and has been previously deported and reenter unlawfully provides yet additional and important information about the “risk of flight.”

A number of years ago I was called upon, as a senior special agent of the INS to provide testimony at the trial of an illegal alien who had been charged with murdering a 25 year old New York City police officer, Robert E. Machete on March 3, 1989. The murder suspect in this case, was a 23 year old citizen of Panama, Renaldo Rayside who had been previously deported, in fact, I had personally transported him to the airport and placed him on the airliner that would take him back to his home country.

The reason I was called upon to provide testimony at that murder trial was that Rayside, as a previously deported narcotics trafficker, was facing a minimum of approximately 5 years in prison for the crime of reentry after deportation. It was postulated by the prosecutors that he had killed the police officer who had stopped him for a motor vehicle law infraction was to escape and thus not face years of incarceration for his violation of the immigration laws.

It is also known that a number of the 9/11 terrorists had been stopped by police officers who failed to contact immigration authorities about their contact with illegal aliens who ultimately participated in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The news article below notes that it is difficult to keep tabs on students who violate the terms their admission into the United States. It is, in fact, the responsibility of the special agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to provide that crucial service to our nation- a service that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has referred to as being “Un-American!”

This is a mission that is also being ignored by the Secretary for DHS, Janet Napolitano. There are only about 4,000 special agents for ICE to cover the entire United States of America. While much has been made of efforts to identify criminal aliens and pursue employers of illegal aliens, in point of fact these agents are supposed to perform many functions that, in the past couple of decades have been all but ignored! They do not routinely make certain that students are attending school and otherwise living up to their terms of admission into the United States although this is an important mission that used to be addressed at least on a sporadic basis.

While effective immigration law enforcement could provide our nation with all sorts of dividends ranging from combating international drug trafficking organizations, violent gangs and terrorists to opening up jobs for Americans who are desperate to support their families, ICE has become a “toothless tiger” and our politicians have been the ones who have been gleefully yanking out its teeth!

In less than two years each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. In less than two years 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!

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!

Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the ‘911 Families for a Secure America.’ He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.