As you know, I generally write my commentaries in reaction to news articles. Today, this commentary is in reaction to a news report. I want you to do a bit of thinking.
Please look at the photo below, and play the game “What’s My Line.”
If you are too young to remember this show, I will tell you about it. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn the television game show “What’s My Line” aired just about every Sunday night on the CBS television network. It was on from 10:30 PM to 11:00 PM and had several “regulars” including the moderator John Charles Daly and panelists Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, Steve Allen and Dorothy Kilgallin to name some of the most well known panelists.
The show provided the panelists with people from all walks of life and the idea was for them to ask the contestants a series of questions about what they did, where the question could be answered in the affirmative or negative. They could continue asking questions until they got a “no” response, at which time the contestant was credited with $5.00 for that “no.” The questioning would then be done by the next panelist and would continue until either the guest contestant won $50 or the panelists succeeded in figuring out what the contestant’s career or “line” was.
The show was extremely successful and aired for about 18 years beginning in 1950.
By now you must be wondering why I would take you down “Memory Lane” to discuss a television show I watched as a kid.
The point is that it is extremely difficult to simply look at someone and know who they are and what they do for a living.
The photo is a case in point.
Study this young man’s face carefully and see if you can figure out what his “Line” is.
Since you can’t ask him questions, let me tell you a couple of things about him.
He is a husband and the father of 5 children.
He is educated and was a student for a master’s degree in computer science.
Perhaps his pleasant expression may help you figure out why you might find him to be an interesting person.
He showed apparent respect for the laws of the United States by entering our country legally with a student visa.
It certainly sounds as though he is trustworthy. Perhaps if he was looking for an apartment and you owned rental property, you might consider renting him an apartment or offering him a part time job while he attended school and needed to support his family.
He was born in Qatar. His name is Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri and he is about 43 years old
If you are still not certain about how he earns his living, can you guess at his hobbies?
Let me give you a hint.
He entered the United States on September 10, 2001.
(Of course you might never have figured that out and he might not have volunteered that information even if you asked him.)
So, let me provide you with some more information. Here are some excepts from the Washington Post story about Marri that appears in today’s edition of that newspaper: (I have linked to the article below)
In 2001, Marri was approached by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an operations chief for al-Qaeda, about assisting al-Qaeda operations in the United States, according to court documents, many of which were obtained by federal investigators who had seized an address book at an al-Qaeda safe house in Pakistan.
Marri knew at the time that he was providing himself to al-Qaeda to further their terrorist objectives, the documents said.
Marri was instructed by Mohammed to arrive in the United States no later than Sept. 10, 2001, with an understanding that he was to remain in the country for an undetermined length of time.
As part of the deal, Marri also agreed that an almanac that investigators recovered from his home “was bookmarked at pages showing dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States, consistent with al Qaeda attack planning regarding the use of cyanide gases.”
The CNN report on this case contains a bit more information that could not be mistaken for a “bedtime story.”
On September 21, 2001, al-Marri traveled to another central Illinois university and created five new e-mail accounts under different aliases, the documents said. “By this time, the defendant knew that al Qaeda was responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and fully understood why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had directed him to be in the United States before that date.” He used the new e-mail accounts to inform Mohammed of his whereabouts and activities, and also gave him his cell phone number in encoded format, according to the plea agreement.
In addition, he conducted online research “related to various cyanide compounds. The defendant’s focus was on various cyanide substances … the defendant reviewed toxicity levels, the locations where these items could be purchased, and specific pricing of the compounds,” the documents said. He also explored obtaining sulfuric acid.
Here is an entry in Wikipedia about al-Marri:
In 2002, Ali was charged with making false statements to the FBI and to financial institutions, identity fraud, and credit card fraud. Al-Marri was alleged to be in possession of more than 1750 credit card numbers, along with the names of the account holders, none of whom were Al-Marri. He was also alleged to be in possession of falsified identification documents. Additionally, he was alleged to have used a Qwest calling card to call a number in Dubai linked to the reputed al-Qaeda financier Mustafa al-Hawsawi. After searching al-Marri’s computer, folders were found labeled “jihad arena” and “chem,” which (according to the government) contained information on hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous gas produced in large quantities by several industrial processes in the U.S. and listed amongst chemical warfare agents that cause general poisoning, along with lectures by Osama bin Laden and links to Web sites related to weaponry and satellite equipment.
The point to all of this is to reiterate a point I have made when I testified before Congressional hearings, hearings before state legislative bodies around the United States and when I appeared in a wide variety of other forums: There is absolutely no way of simply looking at someone and making an intelligent decision about who that person is or what his intentions are.
As an immigration inspector, my challenge was to determine whether or not to admit an alien seeking admission into the United States after asking just a few perfunctory questions and reviewing his (her) passport and other documents. Generally it was expected that the inspectors should be able to make that decision in a minute or less.
Of course, if an arriving individual aroused concern, the option of sending that person to “secondary” for a more in-depth inspection was an option, but it was one that we had to use sparingly because of the ever-present issue of limited resources.
Clearly al-Marri understood the need to obtain a visa to enter the United States and not call attention to himself. (Someone once said that an effective spy was someone who would not attract the attention of a waiter or waitress at a greasy spoon diner. In point of fact, the same could be said of an effective terrorist.)
Now it is critically important to understand that while al-Marri entered the United States with a student visa having flown to the United States, terrorists and criminals have entered the United States by running our nation’s borders.
The ideal situation for a terrorist who wants to embed himself in our country is to attain lawful status in the United States.
This is how a “Sleeper Agent” operates.
In dealing with “sleepers” and criminals, what we don’t know can kill us!
This is one of the reasons I am so concerned about the sort of massive “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” program being touted by the administration and members of both houses of Congress.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation of 2007 would have required that 100,000 applications for amnesty per day be processed by USCIS. That beleaguered agency was, and remains to this day, already unable to do its job with integrity. Each year that agency adjudicates an average of 6 million applications for various immigration benefits including aliens who apply for political asylum, lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship. Comprehensive Immigration Reform would cause millions of additional applications to be dumped on the desks of the adjudicators at an agency that was, and remains to this day, already hobbled by an extreme lack of resources.
Furthermore, what must be remembered is that the applicants for Comprehensive Immigration Reform have no reliable way of proving who they are! What name do you inscribe on an identity document for an alien whose identity, including his country of citizenship and date, place and manner of entry into the United States are unknown and unknowable? What is even more disturbing is that under the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, the adjudicators would have had to issue temporary identity documents to 100,000 alien applicants each and every day within 48 hours of the time that the alien was interviewed. The sheer numbers of applicants and paperwork that would deluge USCIS along with their already daunting workload, would have made a mockery of any sort of interview process.
The identity documents issued by USCIS are “breeder” documents. They would permit the bearer to use those documents to obtain a Social Security number, a driver’s license, open bank accounts, open credit cards, obtain library cards and even buy property in the United States.
Incredibly on April 30th of this year, Senator Charles Schumer, convened a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship. The hearing was entitled, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?”
The title of that hearing was just too similar to the joke about the crooked law firm that had the name, “Dewy, Cheatham and Howe” to not make note of that pun here!
In the mad dash to process that tidal wave of paper, USCIS would have no choice but to rev up the bureaucratic conveyor belt to “warp speed.” Obviously there is an inverse relationship between quantity and quality.
I have used this analogy so many times before, but I don’t think any image could convey what this would mean any better than the episode of “I Love Lucy” when Lucy and her sidekick Ethel get jobs at a candy factory and attempt to wrap the candy as the conveyor belt speeds up and the candy hurtles at them. This made for a classically hilarious episode for television viewers, but for USCIS to emulate that disaster would threaten the security of our nation and the lives of our citizens.
The point is that it seems that no matter how many times We the People of the United States make it unequivocally clear that we don’t want an amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens whose identities are unknown and unknowable, there are “leaders” who will simply ignore us and push on to attempt to jam this suicide pact that I fear “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” would create, down our throats!
We the People need to make it clear that we are not going to be a “speed bump” but rather a solid wall, with absolute resolve to send a clear message to the politicians that we will not accept the their “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” lunacy. Period!
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!
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!
Here is the good news. We the People vastly outnumber the members of Congress! There are about 300 million Americans and a mere 535 members of both Houses of Congress!
Our voices can and must be much louder than theirs!
The collective failure of We the People to get involved in making 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!
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!
Former ‘enemy combatant’ pleads guilty [CNN]