Security of U.S. Passports Questioned

The news report I have attached below will provide you with yet another reason to find sleep elusive and cause you to question the intelligence and, indeed, the sanity of our government once again!

Today, ABC news reported on how key components of U.S. passports are being produced in Thailand – a country that has serious security issues and has been long used as a “waypoint’ for smugglers operating in Asia. Furthermore, previous news reports by CNN have also provided disquieting information about how easily impostors have been able obtain valid United States passports. I have, in fact, previously written a commentary about this very issue.

Finally, the GAO issued a report in 2007 about how CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Inspectors at ports of entry in the United States have not been provided with the training or with the technology to make certain that U.S. passports used by travelers who purport to be citizens of the United States are who they claim they are.

I have attached a CNN news report and the introduction to the GAO report below.

You may be interested to know that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a passport as follows:

“The term “passport” means any travel document issued by competent authority showing the bearer’s origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country.”

The portion of the INA that contains definitions is contained in Title 8, of the United States Code, Section 1101. The definition of the term “passport” is found under subsection (30)

Here is the link to all of the definitions to be found in the INA:—-000-.html

It is, perhaps a bit ironic that the term passport requires that the travel document be issued by “competent authority.” Of course, from a legal perspective the idea of a competent authority refers to a government agency – however it would appear that as is the case in nearly everything, these days, our government is anything but competent! You could say that the current definition of the term “passport” would be more factually accurate if it read:

“The term “passport” means any travel document issued by incompetent authority showing the bearer’s origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country!”

The article makes it clear that a passport represents a “Key to the kingdom” by providing an “EZ Pass” to America’s front door. Of course this is absolutely true. In fact, when I worked for the INS as an Immigration Inspector, I was given specific training that when an alien sought entry into United States I was responsible for inspecting that alien and his documents to make certain that he was, in fact, admissible. Citizens, on the other had were not inspected but were to be examined. This was more than an exercise in semantics. The point was that United States citizens have the absolute right to be permitted into the United States. The inspector at a port of entry has to take a United States passport as prima facia evidence of the bearer’s identity and citizenship.

There is, however, another important use for a United States passport. It can be used as the sole document to be accepted by an employer who is hiring a new employee and is reviewing the new employees documents in conjunction with the Form I-9. We often hear about how it is extremely important for companies and other employers to not hire illegal aliens – a United States passport would make it easy for an illegal alien who would be able to acquire a United States passport to seek a job – and, in fact, a job that might have national security implications.

A United States passport in the hands of a terrorist or criminal who was not lawfully entitled to that passport can also pose a threat to other countries- especially our allies.

Time and again I have made the point that the immigration crisis that confronts our nation is not limited to the Mexican border. Immigration consists of many components that impact nearly every significant challenge that confronts our nation today.

It has been more than 17 years since our nation was attacked at the CIA by a Pakistani citizen who obtained political asylum by committing fraud by lying on his application for asylum and then repaid our nation’s kindness, and frankly, ineptitude, by standing outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia on a winter morning in January 1993 with an AK-47. He opened fire and killed two CIA officers and wounded three others. The very next month, on February 26, 1993 a team of Middle Eastern terrorists who had gamed the immigration and visa systems attacked the World Trade Center by planting a bomb in the basement of that once unique New York City landmark – killing 6, injuring hundreds, if not thousands, and nearly brought one of the 110 story towers down sideways. An estimated one half billion dollars in damages were inflicted in that incredible complex of buildings.

Nothing was done to plug the holes that those terrorists easily slipped through. In fact those holes were literally so large that wide-body jet airliners were, you might say, able to fly through them on September 11, 2001!

September 11, 2001 was the date of the next attack- and a massive one at that! Three thousand people were slaughtered- many having gone to their deaths after they had ample time to understand the impossibility of their predicament! (I could not imagine a worse way of dying!)

Many others were terribly injured emotionally and/or physically when they inhaled toxic dust when the towers collapsed. Some of these victims have already died while others are suffering and some are slowly dying. Law suits have been filed to get proper treatment for those – primarily valiant “first responders” who were made ill by their exposure to those toxins.

This horrific attack was made possible because our leaders failed to learn the lessons that the attacks of 1993 should have taught our nation’s “leaders!”

There have been other near misses – some averted because of the skill and diligence of our law enforcement professionals. Often luck played a role.

Other attacks failed because of the ineptitude of the terrorists – again we got lucky!

We are rapidly approaching the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and it would appear that our leaders are still counting on luck and the incompetence of those who wish to slaughter our citizens and destroy our nation.

The issuance of United States passports is a prime example of incompetence on a truly galactic level!

As I noted in a passage from a recent statement I provided to Senator Session for inclusion in the official record of a Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing into USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

  • “The illegal aliens who manage to run our nation’s borders are comparable to an individual who manages to break into a home by crawling through a window left open at the rear of the house.
  • The alien who manages to commit immigration fraud and game the bureaucracy at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the equivalent of the burglar who manages to secure a copy of the key to the front door of the home he has targeted for illegal entry.
  • When you park your car in a garage where attendants park the car for you, there are almost invariably signs posted warning patrons to not leave any keys other than the ignition key. The obvious first concern is that you don’t want to have a larcenous employee of that garage rummaging through your glove compartment or trunk and possibly steal any of your valuables. Additionally, the potential exists that a dishonest garage employee might make a copy of your house key and be able to determine your address by running your license plate. Such criminals would not have to force their way into their victim’s home but would be able to simply walk through the front door with a key they were able to produce.
  • Many such burglary rings have, in fact, operated out of parking garages over the years.
  • Recently police in an affluent community north of New York City discovered that electronic garage door openers had been stolen from expensive cars. The thieves only stole the garage door openers. This was an obvious variation of the tactic employed by the dishonest parking garage employees – the goal being to find a way of gaining access into a victim’s home without having to use force.
  • Several weeks ago my car was broken into and my son’s backpack was stolen. It contained the keys to our home and his backpack had documents that included our home address. Out of an abundance of caution and commonsense, we immediately had the locks on our house changed.
  • Time and again news reports have detailed how aliens from countries all over the world have been able to game the immigration bureaucracy in order to gain visas and/or acquire lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship by committing fraud. Time and again the GAO and the OIG have provided reports issued pursuant to investigations that disclosed the ways in which criminals and terrorists, including individuals engaged in espionage have easily gamed the immigration bureaucracy of USCIS to acquire resident alien status and then even United States citizenship as an integral component of their strategy to acquire a job that involved a security clearance or provided access to a secure location. We have seen where an alien who committed marriage fraud was able to ultimately secure a job as an FBI Special Agent and then went on to secure a position at the CIA.
  • In November of 2006 the GAO issued a report that included the incredible lapse of judgement, or worse, where purportedly some 111,000 immigration alien files were reportedly lost and yet each and every application for an immigration benefit that related to those missing files were adjudicated without those critically important files, including 30,000 aliens who were naturalized even though the adjudications officers were not provided with those files when they adjudicated those applications.”

    My concern about the way that USCIS carries out its critically important mission of adjudicating applications for residency and United States citizenship made it all too simple a matter for criminals and, especially terrorists, to game that system and acquire lawful status in the United States and thus secure a “key to the front door of our nation.”

    Here is a copy of my statement for inclusion in that record that I provided to Senator Jeff Sessions per his request that I prepare such a statement:

    Apparently, however, an alien need not naturalize and potentially commit fraud in order to secure a highly valuable United States passport. All that an alien would have to do is to find someone willing to sell him (her) an authentic passport- perhaps in a false or stolen identity!

    How many times have we heard politicians demand to know “Why didn’t someone connect the dots?”

    Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, many experts have come forward to address areas of extreme vulnerability and “connect the dots.” Some of these experts have been within the government and worked for such official agencies as the GAO (General Accountability Office) or the (OIG) Office of the Inspector General. Others, such as myself, have come forward to provide insights and perspectives acquired by long years of government service.

    Yet little, if anything, is ever done to address these vulnerabilities that I fear may enable terrorists to attack our nation and kill still more innocent victims.

    As I noted in a recent commentary, “If hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!”

    I mad that point when I wrote about how much chutzpah or, perhaps, stupidity Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security or, as I have come to refer to it as the Department of Homeland Surrender demonstrated when she said, “The system worked” when a terrorist who attempted to destroy an airliner as it prepared to land in Detroit on Christmas Day last year.

    The problem is not that no one connected the dots – it is that politicians who obvious have priorities that have little, if anything to do with the lives of our citizens or the security of our nation are unwilling to even see the dots!

    Immigration is not a single issue but a major factor in nearly every significant challenge confronting the United States today. Failures to secure our nation’s borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity and honors those lawful immigrants who follow the laws and play by the rules to join the magnificent tapestry that is America hammers those challenges and compromises national security, the safety of our citizens and threatens the “American Dream.”

    I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world. However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels and members of al-Qaeda!

    If reading this makes it difficult for you to sleep now – perhaps you could do something worthwhile – perhaps you might spend a couple of your sleepless hours writing letters to your elected representatives this evening and remind them that Election Day is just months away!

    We the People can add to the consternation of these politicians who are failing to live up to their oaths of office by contacting them and making it abundantly clear that election day is coming and they should think of election day as their personal “Day of Reckoning!”

    Our government must live up to its obligation of protecting its own citizens and, indeed, all who are present in our country from the criminals and terrorists who would threaten our lives and the survival of our nation and our way of life. In the end, the government is actually those who are elected to act as our “leaders.” Those who fail to truly lead and look out for those they are supposed to represent, need to be sent packing this coming Election Day!

    If our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

    We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this 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. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

    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!

    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!

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    Security of U.S. Passports Called Into Question Why Are Key Components Outsourced To Country In Turmoil? By MATTHEW MOSK, MATTHEW COLE, BRIAN ROSS and JOHN SOLOMON CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY AND ABC NEWS