Officials fear lapses in immigration security may have let insurgents and potential terrorists enter the country

Hi Gang:
My commentary today is predicated on an extremely worrisome news report that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on July 18, 2011.
This report comes on the heels of another news report that appeared last week in the Washington Times on July 13, 2011.  
That headline to that news report blared:
Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed

Aim is to find any would-be terrorists

Here is the link to this news report:
Here is a link to the commentary I wrote about this report:
Let us now consider the July 18th Chicago Tribune news report concerning the concerns about the possibility that terrorists may be among the 58,000 Iraqi refugees who were admitted into the United States.  Once again it would seem that the immigration system whose primary goal should be to prevent terrorists and criminals from entering our country has failed!
Here is a link to Title 8, United States Code, Section 212,  the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that enumerates the various categories of aliens who are statutorily ineligible to enter the United States:  

The headline to the is certainly ominous but I want to start out by providing you with the first few sentences of that report here:
                                                                                                           *************************************
In a far-reaching inquiry, authorities are rescreening more than 58,000 Iraqi refugees living in the United States amid concerns that lapses in immigration security may have allowed former insurgents and potential terrorists to enter the country, U.S. officials said.

The investigation was given added urgency after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq and Yemen hadtried to target the U.S. refugee stream, or exploit other immigration loopholes, in an attempt to infiltrate the country with operatives.

The rescreening began late last year after the FBI learned that an Iraqi man in Kentucky had participated in roadside bomb attacks in Iraq before he was granted U.S. political asylum in 2009. He and another Iraqi refugee were arrested in an FBI sting in May on charges of trying to send explosives and missiles to Iraq for use against Americans.

So far, immigration authorities have given the FBI about 300 names of Iraqi refugees for further investigation. The FBI won’t say whether any have been arrested or pose a potential threat.


                                                                                                           ************************************* 
Give that first sentence some real thought- there were “lapses in immigration security” in a system that enabled citizens of a “Special Interest Country” that is to say a country identified with the sponsorship of terrorism to enter our country?  Are the “Keystone Kops” in charge of the national security of the United States?
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying- I am extremely sympathetic to the plight of individuals whose lives are threatened because of religion, ethnicity, etc.  My grandmother perished in the Holocaust.  I was named for her.  Had my own mother not been allowed to lawfully immigrate to the United States she would likely not have survived the Holocaust and I would never have been born nor, consequently, would my own children have been born.  HOWEVER, given the extreme threat of terrorism, would it not occur to the “leaders” of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that they really better know who they are permitting to enter our country before they admit them into the United States?
By permitting potential terrorists into our country they not only endanger our nation in obvious ways, they also imperil the very refugees that were admitted into the United States to protect them!
Consider this additional sentence from the news report:
                                                                                                            *************************************
In the Kentucky case, the FBI learned in November from a confidential informant that Waad Ramadan Alwan had constructed improvised roadside bombs in Iraq before he was granted U.S. asylum in April 2009.

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I could understand if perhaps information was developed after this guy was admitted into the United States, but when information about an individual was involved in the construction of a bomb, that information, you would think, would be immediately transmitted to any agency of the United States government that is involved in permitting aliens to enter the United States.  This would certainly include CBP, USCIS and ICE as well as the Department of State!

Yet seven years after the attacks of 9/11 the FBI apparently had information about a terrorist who was engaged in constructing bombs used to kill our soldiers and others and that information was not provided to other government agencies!

Of course, you would think that USCIS and the other agencies would have sought the best intelligence about those they were seeking to relocate to the United States before they admitted them into the United States.  The obvious question is, “Did they even reach out to any other agency or did they simply want to move the paperwork and the aliens as quickly as possible because, from everything I have been hearing from sources inside the government, speed not accuracy is what is demanded of the employees of these beleaguered agencies!

Aliens, especially those engaged in crime and terrorism, gaming the immigration system in general and the political asylum system in particular is not a new problem for our nation.  There have been a string of terrorists in the past who have succeeded in easily gaming the very same political asylum system.  My dad taught me that there were no mistakes in life, only lessons if we learn from what goes wrong.  However, to him and to me, to make the same mistakes repeatedly is unacceptable. There is a well known adage, “Fool me once, shame on you- fool me twice, shame on me!” 
The failures of our nation to create an immigration system that possesses real integrity were, in fact, important elements of the two terrorist attacks that were carried out inside our nation in 1993.  To briefly remind you of these two attacks, in January 1993 a citizen of Pakistan by the name of Amil Kansi stood outside CIA Headquarters in Virginia with an AK-47.  He opened fire on random cars being driven by CIA officers and other employees reporting for work that winter morning.  When the smoke cleared, two CIA officers were dead and three others were wounded.  Kansi fled from the murder scene and from the United States.  He was subsequently hunted down by our officials, brought back to the United States to stand trial, was found guilty and subsequently executed.  Justice may have been served but the two officials he murdered remained dead and the injured still suffered from those injuries.
Kansi had been granted political asylum even though he lied on his application for political asylum.  Clearly he saw in America’s kindness, weakness.
On May 20, 1997 the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing on the issue of: 
“Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud”

 

Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing:
I was invited to testify at that hearing by the then chairman of that Congressional Subcommittee, Lamar Smith, who now chairs the House Judiciary Committee  
That hearing was predicated on Kansi and on the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993 which nearly toppled one of the majestic 110 story tall towers sideways.  That attack killed six innocent victims, injured hundreds, if not thousands, and inflicted an estimated one half billion dollars in damage to that complex of buildings that would ultimately come to be obliterated on September 11, 2001 
Kansi and the terrorists of the first attack at the World Trade Center were not the only one to successfully game the immigration system for a wide variety of reasons and others who similarly gamed the system also had crimes including murder and terrorism on their minds and used their fraudulently acquired lawful immigration status as a means of hiding in plain sight.
In March of this year, I wrote an extensive commentary about how Kansi and other individuals had gamed the immigration system and their efforts to defraud the immigration system were successful and only came to light when they were investigated for other crimes after they were granted political asylum and given lawful status in our country. 
Here is the link to that commentary as it appears on my website:
Included in my commentary was information about Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane. a citizen of Somalia, filed an application for political asylum which involved the omission of critical, material facts and other efforts to defraud the immigration benefit program by lying on his application for political asylum.  These facts came to light when the federal government’s  DOJ pre-sentencing memorandum concerning this individual was disclosed by a reporter at PJM.  Here is the link to that 20 page document that lays out, in detail, how this major terrorist player operated:
According to information contained in the pre-sentencing report, he was subsequently determined to have been providing material assistance to two terrorist organizations, Al-Shabbab and al-Barakat  by laundering large sums of money from 1997 until 2002 including transactions involving the movement of more than $100,000 at a time.  He was made the director of the operation that moved money into the coffers of a terrorist organization and also had smuggled aliens from East Africa into Brazil where he ran a hotel that functioned as a “safe house” and that he bribed Brazilian law enforcement to ensure that they would not be deported from Brazil and secured bogus passports and other identity documents for these individuals whom he ultimately smuggled into the United States. illegal aliens into the United States.  His pre-sentencing memorandum also indicated that he had further assisted these terrorists by coaching them so that they could successfully  file applications for political asylum once they came to the United States by running our nation’s southern border.  (This is the border that Janet Napolitano continues to tell us has never been more secure!)  
The pre-sentencing document provides additional details involving acts of extreme violence and cruelty he committed and other important facts that you should take the time to read in the report.  I would also ask that you check out how many aliases he employed in order to conceal himself.
The other individual I noted in that earlier report was a citizen of Eritrea by the name of Samuel Abrahaley Fessahazion.  He easily gamed the political asylum process and who ran our nation’s southern border on March 20, 2008 at McAllen, Texas and applied for political asylum on September 30, 2008, claiming that from 2007 until 2008 he traveled through Africa fleeing persecution in Eritrea.  On November 13, 2008 he was granted political asylum.  In under six weeks our government rushed to provide this guy with lawful status under the aegis of the political asylum program that is supposed to protect vulnerable aliens.  Obviously no one conducted a meaningful investigation- because as it turned out, at the time he alleged he was on the run from those who would kill him in Eritrea, he was in reality, smuggling East African aliens into the United States!
All of these facts and more came to light in a news release that was issued by ICE on March 10th of this year.  Here is the link to that news release:
What is astounding about the news release is that all of the facts I have provided you above were noted in the news release, the focus on the news release was how ICE was able to arrest this 23 year old alien smuggler but while it was noted that he had successfully gamed the political asylum bureaucracy, there was no mention of any efforts to prosecute him for lying on his application for political asylum or even to strip him of the protections that he was afforded under the political asylum program! 
You should also bear in mind that USCIS is the very same agency that adjudicates more than 6 million applications for various immigration benefits including the conferring of lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship upon aliens.  This is the same agency that would implement any massive amnesty program that the administration and such “leaders” in Congress as Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and others are so eager to see enacted!  There are many reasons why Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the DREAM Act are wrong headed.  But first things first, USCIS is one screwed up and inept agency that threatens the lives of our citizens and the security of our nation and this is the agency that would be put in charge of administering these disastrous programs.
It is time to give USCIS and the other component agencies of DHS (Department of Homeland Surrender) a more accurate name- “The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight!”
The final question that needs to be asked (and answered) is how many agents are now trying to find the possible terrorists that we admitted into the United States through the ineptitude of our government?  With unknown millions- indeed, tens of millions of illegal aliens in our country, it is not at all difficult for criminals or terrorists to easily hide in plain sight.  
You have to wonder how Janet Napolitano will attempt to “spin” this fiasco!
I am, yet again, forced to ask, where is the concern about “National Security?”
Even more importantly- what will our government really do to address these huge vulnerabilities before we are attacked again?

A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

I

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.

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!”

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!

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 or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws 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!


-michael cutler- 



Please check out my website:

Additionally- this summer, on Friday afternoons from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, I will be filling in for Tom Garcia as the host on The USA Talk Radio Network’s excellent radio show, “The American Hour.”



I hope you will be joining my cohost, Paula Lauzon Ostman and me, on Fridays this summer!

Here is the link for this program:



http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-refugee-terror-20110719,0,3324053.story

chicagotribune.com

Iraqi refugees in U.S. rechecked for terrorism links

Officials fear lapses in immigration security may have let insurgents and potential terrorists enter the country. More than 58,000 Iraqis are being screened again.

By Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau

9:35 PM CDT, July 18, 2011

Reporting from Washington

In a far-reaching inquiry, authorities are rescreening more than 58,000 Iraqi refugees living in the United States amid concerns that lapses in immigration security may have allowed former insurgents and potential terrorists to enter the country, U.S. officials said.

The investigation was given added urgency after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq and Yemen hadtried to target the U.S. refugee stream, or exploit other immigration loopholes, in an attempt to infiltrate the country with operatives.

The rescreening began late last year after the FBI learned that an Iraqi man in Kentucky had participated in roadside bomb attacks in Iraq before he was granted U.S. political asylum in 2009. He and another Iraqi refugee were arrested in an FBI sting in May on charges of trying to send explosives and missiles to Iraq for use against Americans.

So far, immigration authorities have given the FBI about 300 names of Iraqi refugees for further investigation. The FBI won’t say whether any have been arrested or pose a potential threat.

The individuals may have only tenuous links to known or suspected terrorists. The names were identified when authorities rechecked phone numbers, email addresses, fingerprints, iris scans and other data in immigration files of Iraqis given asylum since the war began in 2003.

They checked the data against military, law enforcement and intelligence databases that were not available or were not utilized during the initial screening process, or were not searched using sufficient Arabic spelling and name variations.

It addition to the Iraqis, authorities have rescreened a smaller number of refugees from Yemen, Somalia and other countries where terrorist groups are active.

U.S. officials say they have tried to plug the gaps as quickly as possible.

Unlike earlier screenings, for example, immigration officials now must check an Army-run biometric database of known and suspected bomb makers and other insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan before a refugee is admitted from either country. They also have added other background and security checks.

The enhanced screening procedures have caused a logjam in regular visa admissions from Iraq, even for those who risked their lives to aid American troops and who now fear reprisals as the Obama administration winds down the U.S. military presence.

In the Kentucky case, the FBI learned in November from a confidential informant that Waad Ramadan Alwan had constructed improvised roadside bombs in Iraq before he was granted U.S. asylum in April 2009.

Alwan allegedly told the informant that he had planted bombs near the oil refinery town of Baiji in northern Iraq in summer 2005. In December, the FBI’s field office in Louisville asked for help from the FBI-run Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center in Quantico, Va.

The little-known center warehouses more than 70,000 defused bombs, all recovered in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, for possible use as evidence. The stockpile is so large that 300 forensics experts and other technicians are assigned to respond to requests from investigators or intelligence analysts.

In January, after checking several thousand items in the inventory, the FBI said it had found Alwan’s fingerprints on a cordless phone that had been wired to detonate an improvised bomb near Baiji in 2005.

A bomb squad had found the phone and sent it to Quantico. But it was labeled “low priority” and was not dusted for fingerprints until this year, said a U.S. law enforcement official who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The case has exposed several immigration and intelligence security gaps.

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last Wednesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) criticized the FBI for failing to check for fingerprints on all the recovered bombs.

“I don’t understand why they would be behind by five or six years,” he said. He said there was “no excuse” for the delay.

An FBI spokesman would not say how extensive the backlog is or when it might be resolved. But experts said bomb parts rarely carried usable fingerprints.

So far, the FBI has identified 430 prints at the center and added them to a biometric database that the Army has compiled from captured and detained insurgents.

But the Army’s database — which also contains photos, palm prints, iris scans and sometimes DNA samples — was kept off the Internet to prevent hacking. It thus does not connect to the immigration database, and names must be cross-checked one at a time, officials said.

The Army agreed in March to begin reconfiguring its system so it could share biometric data with the Homeland Security Department and immigration authorities. For now, immigration officials can access the Army database “through manual processes,” said Bill Phillips, policy branch chief for the Army’s Biometrics Identity Management Agency.

Stewart Baker, former head of policy at the Homeland Security Department, called the situation “shocking.” In an interview, he said the database should have been shared with immigration and other  government agencies “at the earliest possible time.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked Homeland Security Department and State Department officials at last week’s hearing whether they were approving too many asylum applications.

“I don’t fault you for missing the needle in the haystack,” he said. “You’ve got to make the haystack smaller.”

About 18,000 Iraqi refugees were admitted last year, but the number has fallen sharply since new screening procedures were imposed.

About 30,000 Iraqis have applied for asylum. Many worked as interpreters or held other positions with the U.S. military, aid groups or companies in Iraq and say they face reprisals because of those ties.

Kirk Johnson, founder of the List Project, a nonprofit group that tries to help Iraqis facing such threats, said immigration security lapses should not become “a pretense” to stop admitting Iraqi refugees.

Americans can’t “ignore the obligation we have” to protect Iraqis who are persecuted because they served alongside U.S. forces, he said.

brian.bennett@latimes.com

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