|The Daily Ledger
Replacing the in-person inspections process with a kiosk.
In point of fact,the 9/11 Commission determined that the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world and cross international borders, especially the borders of the United States, were essential to ability of the terrorists to carry out those deadly attacks.
These obvious facts were not only a major theme of the 9/11 Commission report and findings, but also for the staff of federal agents, from a variety of federal agencies, and for the attorneys who were assigned to assist the work of the 9/11 Commission. To this point, one of the reports that the 9/11 Commission staff produced was the “9/11 and Terrorist Travel – Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.” This report was one of several that members of the 9/11 Commission staff- the federal agents and the attorneys, wrote about the findings of the Commission,
This report focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the United States as they went about their deadly preparations.and embed themselves in the United States. The preface of this report begins with the following three paragraphs:
"It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one."
Congress gave the Commission the mandate to study, evaluate, and report on “immigration, nonimmigrant visas and border security” as these areas relate to the events of 9/11. This staff report represents 14 months of such research. It is based on thousands of pages of documents we reviewed from the State Department, the Immigration andNaturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, approximately 25 briefings on various border security topics, and more than 200 interviews. We are grateful to all who assisted and supported us along the way.
The story begins with “A Factual Overview of the September 11 Border Story.” This introduction summarizes many of the key facts of the hijackers’ entry into the United States. In it, we endeavor to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was “clean and legal.” It was not. Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas. One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.
Page 54 of this report contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”
Here is an excerpt from that report that makes the above issues crystal clear:
Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.
In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.