The news article I have attached below appeared today on the ABC News website and should be of great concern because of two issues that are probably interrelated- the fact that a major financial backer of both President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hilary Clinton when she sought the Presidency in the last election was on the terror watch list and the fact that as a British subject this same individual who was initially prevented from boarding a private jet this past January 15, had entered the United States on the Visa Waiver Program, a program that I have been consistently critical of.
I said that these issues were probably related, so here is the common thread that may run through the various issues we can read about in the ABC News report.
Because just about any person who aspires to elected office is virtually required to seek campaign contributions from a variety of contributors, these politicians become beholden to those who write the checks that underwrite the political campaigns that get the politicians in power elected.
Concern about the danger in having public officials accept money or gifts from people they encounter during their official duties is the reason that civil servants are generally prohibited from accepting gifts. Police officers and federal agents may not accept free meals or other such “gratuities” because the concern is that once a person with some official authority accepts that gift, he (she) may be inclined to treat the person from whom they accepted that item of value differently from those who have not given them anything.
The point is that all people who come under the jurisdiction of local, state or federal officials should, in theory, be treated equally regardless of their economic or social standing in the community. It is this concept that was succinctly articulated in the news article in response to questions that were apparently raised about the reason that a contributor would have his name on a “No Fly” list be given a “pass” and ultimately permitted to board his jet to depart the United States:
“The spokesperson did say the list is “fluid” and individuals may be moved up or downgraded at any time based on the current threat environment, but “an individual’s social status, financial means, and political affiliations are not considered” in an individual being moved up or down the list.”
This is the reason that the statue of Justice, a woman holding the scales of justice, is blindfolded- justice is supposed to be blind to the various identifiers of anyone who comes into contact with our nation’s judicial system.
That is the theory and, at least on paper, it sounds wonderful. You can imagine the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ringing in your mind’s ears beginning with the phrase “All men are created equal…”
Now let’s get to the bottom line, and I do mean the bottom line!
While police officers and federal agents are, without equivocation, prohibited from accepting gratuities as enforcers of our nation’s laws, those who write our nation’s laws are apparently operating in a parallel universe. These elected legislators may accept campaign contributions that enable these folks to get elected! Indeed, with very few exceptions, just about every one of these legislators must seek these contributions if they intend to get elected and hence, keep their jobs.
When I was a college student I took a number of summer jobs to earn money and to also have some entries for my resume. I held a couple of jobs that involved sales. One of the nuggets of advice I was given by my bosses when I was involved in selling was to not waste my time talking to anyone who was not in a position to make the decisions that would result in a sale.
In other words, it would be foolhardy to give the world’s best sales pitch to someone who would ultimately not be able to sign on the “dotted line” and actually buy what I was selling.
Transfer that thought process to politicians. It is seen by many of these elected officials as absolutely vital to make certain that they don’t waste time talking to anyone who is unwilling or unable to make those campaign contributions. Of course some of these people are decent and will go out of their way to engage their constituents in a discussion to seek to know what worries these people that they are supposed to represent. The problem is that all too many of these politicians have seemingly forgotten that their real job is to represent their constituents and have come to take the view that only those with deep pockets should really get their attention.
As I have noted on many occasions, whenever there is an election we get the best government money can buy!
Now let me make this absolutely clear. I have no knowledge of anything in Mr. Chagoury’s background that may have caused him to become the focus of an investigation, let alone one that landed him on the “No Fly” list- I am just greatly concerned that someone who would be on a “No Fly” list would be someone who has a history of making campaign contributions.
And now we come to the next element of the story- the fact that Mr. Chagoury was able to enter the United States under the auspices of the wrong-headed and dangerous Visa Waiver Program.
At a time that American citizens are coming under ever increasing scrutiny and facing a reduction in expectations of privacy and freedom in the name of “National Security” the idea that the Visa Waiver Program would be continually expanded to the point where today some 35 nations now participate in this program is attributable, in my judgment, to the intense lobbying efforts of executives of the travel and hospitality industries who are obviously more concerned with profits (the bottom line) than they are with national security.
Of course this obsession with profits is extremely shortsighted. If, God forbid, our nation suffers another terrorist attack, it can be expected that among the very first industries to suffer the greatest financial losses will be those travel and hospitality industries. This is not a wild assertion- just think back to what happened in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
When I think about the executives of those industries and their successful efforts to have the Visa Waiver Program expanded, I am reminded of the proverb, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it!”
What is supremely disturbing is not the stupidity of the executives of the travel and hospitality industries, however, but the complicity of the politicians who will bow to the wishes of these executives who, in creating a program known as “Discover America” are pumping millions of dollars into this lobbying effort that is providing the executives of those industries with what they want, while compromising our nation’s security and imperiling the lives of our citizens.
I do not know when Mr. Chagoury’s name was added to the “No Fly” list. It is entirely possible that he acquired that “honor” after he entered the United States. However, my guess is that given the circumstances that were outlined in the article that his name was known to our authorities for quite some time- and hence you have to wonder why a foreign national who was on a “No Fly” list was permitted to enter the United States in the first place. Perhaps he could have gotten through the screening process that is part and parcel of the visa process, but then again, it is possible that had he needed a visa to enter the United States he would not have been granted that visa.
Generally when we erect fences to secure a piece of property, we construct that fence at the furthest extremity of the land surrounding the building we are seeking to protect. The visa requirement, in a manner of speaking, pushes our nation’s borders out to the United States embassies and consulates where visa applications are filed. This is simply commonsense and can prove to provide and extra layer of security, adding an effective component to secure our nation at a time when the safety of our citizens and the security of our nation itself is threatened by terrorists who are constantly probing for weak spots that they can exploit to launch another attack on our soil.
Just about a week ago I addressed the issue of the Visa Waiver Program and provided a list of six benefits the visa requirement provides to law enforcement and other agencies engaged in securing our nation against the entry of criminals and terrorists. At the risk of being repetitive, I have decided to provide you with that list immediately below:
You can review the State Department Website for information about this wrong-headed, indeed extremely perilous program at:
Here is the list of the 6 benefits that the visa requirement provides to national security:
1. By requiring visas of aliens who seek to enter the United States, this process helps to screen potential passengers on airliners that are destined to the United States. Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber” was able to board an airliner to come to the United States although he had no intentions of entering the United States, his apparent goal was to blow up the airliner and its many passengers somewhere over the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by detonating explosives he had concealed in his shoes. Because he is a subject of Great Britain, a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, Reid did not obtain a visa before he boarded that airliner.
2. The CBP inspectors are supposed to make a decision in one minute or less as to the admissibility of an alien seeking to enter the United States. The visa requirement helps them to do a more effective job. Theirs is a tough job I can certainly relate to, I began my career at the former INS as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and worked there for 4 years before I became a special agent.
3. The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads. You can check out the application for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa by clicking on this link:
4. If an alien applicant lies on the application for a visa that lie is called “visa fraud.” The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail for those who commit this crime simply in order to come to the United States, ostensibly to seek unlawful employment or other such purpose. The penalty increases to 15 years in jail for those aliens who obtain a visa to commit a felony. For aliens who engage in visa fraud to traffic in narcotics or commit another narcotics-related crime, the maximum jail sentence that can be imposes rises to 20 years. Finally, when an alien can be proven to have engaged in visa fraud in furtherance of terrorism, the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years in prison. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that the alien has committed visa fraud when there is fraud involved in the visa application. Indeed, terror suspects are often charged with visa fraud.
5. The charge of visa fraud can also be extremely helpful to law enforcement authorities who want to take a bad guy off the street without tipping their hand to the other members of a criminal conspiracy or terrorism conspiracy that the individual arrested was being arrested for his involvement in terrorism or a criminal organization. You can arrest the alien who commits visa fraud for that violation of law and not for other charges that might make it clear that the investigation underway is targeting a criminal or terrorist organization.
6. Even when an alien applies for a visa and his application is denied, the application he filed remains available for law enforcement and intelligence personnel to review to seek to glean intelligence from that application.
I also know that the news report stated that former President Bill Clinton claimed to not have had any awareness of the incident and had no role in getting Mr. Chagoury a waiver to enable him to board his private jet to depart the United States. I am willing to accept this statement at face value. The point is that there are many obvious questions and given the circumstances, these questions won’t be fully answered.
I just believe that this news article once again illuminates how our nation’s security is being compromised by the way that political campaigns are financed, all too often causing politicians to make decisions that may please their donors but that do grave harm to our nation and our citizens.
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
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 Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the outrageous betrayal that this would represent given the national security implications that this program would have, 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.
Later this year, each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Later this 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!
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 and ask them to watch the 60 Minutes report that served as the basis for my commentary.
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!
FBI Stops Nigerian Businessman With Money Ties to Former President; Allowed to Board Private Jet After Questioning