"Secrets of 9/11"

Hi Gang:

Yesterday I sent out an e-mail to alert you that Fox News was about to air a special report that they entitled, “Secrets of 9/11.”
Here is the link to the report about this program that appeared on the internet:
I had an opportunity to watch this excellent program that will be re-broadcast tomorrow night, Sunday, May 22nd at 9:00 PM Eastern Time.  If you missed seeing the program yesterday, I urge you to watch it when it re-airs.  One of the issues that this program did not address, however, is the most serious question as to whether or not our government has addressed the numerous vulnerabilities that enabled the terrorists to enter our country as they prepared to attack our nation and slaughter so many innocent victims and do such harm to our nation and our way of life.  Let’s face it, the economic damages still reverberate throughout not only the economy of the United States but the world’s economy.  Additionally, and in my judgement, perhaps even more disturbing, is how so many of our expectations of privacy and freedom guaranteed by our Constitution- especially the Fourth Amendment have been greatly curtailed, in the name of national security.  
The program not only focused on a number of the terrorists and how they entered the United States, in some instances, multiple times, but also on how those foreign nationals who entered the United States provided the hijackers with apartments, funding and other essential assistance that enabled them to carry out their deadly attacks.  Most of these “supporting cast members” had entered the United States with visas that enabled them to gain entrance into our country and then, in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission, embed themselves in our country.  The issue of such a co-conspirator who managed to secure political asylum was raised and along with it you have to consider how fatally flawed the visa system was and is to this very day.  In fact, the Visa Waiver Program that enables aliens from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program to seek to enter our country for up to 90 days without even first applying for a visa has now been greatly expanded and covers the citizens of 36 countries!
In the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 there was a veritable parade of politicians who stood before the cameras and the forest of microphones and demanded to know why no one had connected the dots!  Clearly the process by which visas are issued was a critical component of the system that failed.  Yet the Visa Waiver Program has not only continued on since September 11, 2001, it has been expanded!
You cannot point to a single member of Congress from either political party who has had the guts or the commonsense to call for the immediate termination of the Visa Waiver Program!  This is insane!
It is so frustrating and maddening that I think it is time to provide the House of Representatives with a more honest and descriptive name- I would call it the “House of Corporate Interests!”
Last month I wrote an extensive commentary about how a proposed visa security program created concerns among some members of the United States Senate.  This program would require that U.S. visa issuing posts in 19 countries increase the scrutiny of applications for visas.  I have decided to copy that commentary and provide it below.  Please take the time to read it.  My comments about the Senate bill also apply to  H.R. 1741, the House version of the bill that is intended to add a level of security to the process by which visas are issued to aliens. 
In reviewing H.R. 1741, a couple of extremely serious deficiencies occurred to me that I will share with you.
First of all, I absolutely agree with those who support this bill that all of the measures contained in this legislation be implemented- and the sooner the better!  The flaws in the process by which visas are issued and aliens are provided with immigration benefits such as being provided with lawful immigrant status and United States citizenship have been well known for many years and, in fact, the very first time I was called to testify at a hearing was way back in May 1997 when the topic for that hearings was Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefit Fraud in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 1993.
However- the Visa Waiver Program is truly the “Fly in the ointment.”  This program flies in the face of some of the protections that the Secure Visa legislation would provide for our nation.  The time has long since come to terminate the Visa Waiver Program altogether!  Incidentally, when you consider that England and Germany are on the list of countries where increased scrutiny would be required, if an alien who lived in those countries naturalized in those countries- under the Visa Waiver Program these newly minted citizens of England or Germany would go from enhanced scrutiny to Visa Waiver!  Frankly, this is nuts!
Second- in my humble opinion, only implementing these measures in a very limited number of countries would be self-defeating.  A determined terrorist or other bad actor could simply apply for a visa at a post not included in this bill and circumvent the process.  I was surprised that Bolivia- a major source country for cocaine whose leader is openly hostile to our nation should have been on the list of countries of concern as should Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina inasmuch as the “Tri-Border” region which is located at the junction of those three countries, is home to terrorist training camps operated by Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaeda.
A terrorist who knew that he might not withstand the enhance scrutiny required the Secure Visa program might decide to apply for a visa in France, Spain, Portugal or Italy and not Germany or Great Britain!
By limiting the implementation of this program to a designated limited number of countries that are known to all would be foreign visitors provides a sort of traffic report to potential terrorists and/or criminals!  When we drive to work or some other destination we tend to turn on the radio to a station that broadcasts traffic reports in order to find the best and quickest way of getting to our destination.  By providing aliens who would want to avoid enhanced scrutiny, this legislation would provide them with an easy way to evade the process!  This is absolutely insane! 
Perhaps initially randomness could be substituted for the requirement that all visa issuing posts increase the scrutiny of applications for visas until all such posts can be brought up to speed with special “flying” security teams being dispatched randomly to visa issuing posts around the world on a random basis so that no terrorist could simply seek to secure a visa from a “soft” post.  The point is that the time has long since passed for our nation to get by with creating illusions of security.  The time has come for our nation’s borders to be made secure- really and truly secure- and the visa process and the immigration benefits program must finally have real integrity!
The point is that these huge holes in the system are, in a word, unacceptable!  If we were sitting in a boat and found a number of holes in the bottom of the boat, plugging most of the holes would not prevent the boat from sinking to the bottom of the lake.  Plugging a few of the holes may mean that the boat will stay afloat awhile longer but in the end, it will sink!  National security must be viewed the same way- all vulnerabilities must be addressed- and the quicker the better!

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 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 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!


-michael cutler- 



Please check out my website:


“Senators say visa security program implementation ‘troubling’
Hi Gang:
I am providing you with a troubling news report that was based on a new GAO (Government Accountability Office) report that stated that there are gaping holes in a system that was implemented to prevent terrorists from obtaining visas that would enable them to enter the United States.  The report I have provided to you appeared in the Friday, April 22nd edition of the “Government Security News” and shows how our government refuses to take essential measures to safeguard our nation and our citizens from the threat of terrorism even as the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks loom large on the horizon.
Today’s commentary will be long, even by my usual standards.  As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details” and I have decided to provide you with as many details as possible. 
I request that you please take the time that is necessary to carefully read what I am providing to you today.  The topic of my commentary and the materials I am providing you in conjunction with my commentary concern national security.  There is no more serious a topic than the security of our nation and I hope you will take the time to give some serious thought to this commentary because of its extremely serious nature.  I also request that if you agree that this commentary is significant that you forward it to as many of your friends as possible- especially those who may not agree about the dire risks we face because our borders are not secure and the immigration system lacks integrity.
My goal is to attempt to get as many of our fellow Americans and our leaders, as well, to understand the concerns I have had 40 years to develop.  I am attempting to create what I have come to refer to as a “bucket brigade of truth!”
The GAO report that predicated the news article below and hence my commentary as well, was prepared pursuant to a request from the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, U.S. Senate and was given a deceptively bland title:
“BORDER SECURITY
DHS’s Visa Security Program Needs to Improve Performance Evaluation and Better Address Visa Risk Worldwide”
Here is a link to that report in its entirety:
Before you continue on with my commentary and with the various items I have provided to you in conjunction with my commentary, I want you to consider a few really critical issues that are not mentioned in the news report that served as the predication for my commentary today.
First of all, process by which visas are issued to aliens seeking to enter our country is of vital concern.  For those not familiar with the purpose of a visa, you need to know that a visa does not guarantee and alien entrance into our country but does represent the first hurdle an alien must clear if he (she) is to seek entry into the United States provided that the alien is not a citizen of the 36 countries that participate in the wrong-headed visa waiver program which enables aliens who are citizens of those countries to simply board an airliner and head for the United States if they plan to stay no longer than 90 days and simply seek to sightsee or visit with friends or family.  A bit later on I will provide you with a half dozen reasons why the Visa Waiver Program is, in my judgement, wrong-headed and poses a serious threat to national security.
Clearly the process by which the State Department issues a visa is of huge importance because an alien who is issued a visa may then proceed to seek to enter the United States with the decision of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) being the next step in the process and it is a process I am quite familiar with, having begun my career with the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) in October, 1971 as an Immigration Inspector assigned to one of the busiest international airports in the United States, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
I want you to consider this excerpt from the GAO report:
                                                                                              ****************
What GAO Recommends
GAO made several recommendations designed to address weaknesses we identified in the VSP. DHS concurred with the recommendations that the VSP provide consular officer training and develop a plan to provide more VSP coverage at high-risk posts. DHS did not concur with the recommendations that the VSP collect comprehensive data on all performance measures and track the time spent on visa security activities. GAO continues to maintain that these recommendations are necessary to accurately assess VSP performance.

                                                                                              ****************

Here are two mind-boggling issues that are illuminated in this brief paragraph.  First of all, it is sheer lunacy to have applicants for visas only undergo enhance scrutiny- if indeed there is any real enhanced scrutiny only at “high risk” posts!  Once terrorists realize that certain consular offices subject would be foreign visitors to the United States to an enhanced screening process, all that they would have to do is determine where the process is not so stringent and simply head to those consular offices to apply for a visa!  This is not rocket science- but then you have to understand the incompetence of our government.
Next it is outrageous that the DHS disagrees with the GAO about the need to collect data spent on visa security activities and apparently ignores what they are being told that they need to do!   Just think about this- DHS is so determined to keep the paper flowing that they are opposed to tracking just how much of an effort they are expending on protecting our nation from the threat of terrorism that the visa process should address.  I guess their motto would be, “Damn the terrorists- keep those lines of would be visitors moving!”  At least Napolitano is consistent- not only won’t she or the agencies under her direction secure our borders- the other processes under her direction are also screwed up!
The visa process that is conducted at U.S. consulates and and embassies essentially pushes our border out to those visa issuing posts.  The visa issuing process is clearly flawed and has been for decades!
What is frustrating to me, and should be to you, is that much is being made about the obvious inability of our government to create a visa process that meets the needs of our nation, especially where national security is concerned but the same government officials who are appropriately upset with this obvious lack of competence are utterly oblivious to the risks posed by our nation’s extremely porous borders.  Many of these same high level members of the political establishment who will, no doubt, seize the opportunity for a “photo op” and stand before the forest of microphones and cameras to pound the podium and demand answers to their questions will also stand before those same microphones and cameras on another day, and demand that Comprehensive Immigration Reform be enacted!
Could there possibly be greater examples of being disconnected from reality?
Why is it that supposedly intelligent “leaders” can understand who critically important it is to properly screen applicants who show up at American consulates and visas seeking visas for the United States but don’t say a word against a Visa Waiver Program that obviates the need for visas for aliens seeking to enter the United States?
Why is it that these leaders demand to know why no clear procedure has yet been created to make certain that every reasonable effort is made to prevent terrorists from securing a visa to enter the United States but are willing to accept as the truth the claims about our borders being more secure than ever made by none other than Janet Napolitano- the head of DHS, an agency that I am certain you know by now, that I have come to refer to as the Department of Homeland Surrender?
In reviewing the GAO report you will notice that the key predication for this report was the fortunately unsuccessful attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23 year old Nigerian terrorist I have nicknamed, “Captain Underpants” to destroy an airliner in the skies over Detroit on December 25, 2009,  when he attempted to detonate a bomb he secreted in his underwear as he sat on an airliner preparing to land in Detroit.  The very next day, Ms Napolitano stood before the cameras and, with a straight face, said, “The system worked!”
I wrote a commentary in which I said that if hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!
Quick, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate her credibility?  (You may not use negative numbers- sorry!)
If a terrorist who obtains a visa to enter the United States is a threat to our national security- and I would certainly agree that such a terrorist is- then how is a terrorist who runs our nation’s borders and, in so doing, leaves no record of his entry into our country no less a threat?  In fact, I would submit that such a terrorist making a surreptitious entry might offer an even greater threat to our nation’s security!
Next we have to consider the dangers that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would pose to national security.  As you may know, I have come to refer to Comprehensive Immigration Reform by another more honest and descriptive name- I call it the Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act!
There is an unknown number of illegal aliens currently present in our country in every state and in virtually every significant city.  The estimates run from a low of 11 million to a high of perhaps 30 or even 40 million.  The open borders advocates become upset when such illegal aliens are referred to as being “Illegal Aliens!”  They prefer that we use the term “Undocumented.”  For the moment let’s give them what they demand- let us consider the unknown millions of undocumented aliens who are currently living throughout our nation right now.  What makes them “undocumented” is the fact that they do not have a shred of official documentation to reliably substantiate who they are.  They cannot prove what their names are.  They cannot prove what their date of birth is.  They cannot even prove where they were born or of what country they are citizens.  This means that there is no reliable way of determining if they have criminal records.  There is no reliable way of knowing if their true name appears on a terrorist watch list or a “No Fly” list.  Therefore we have no idea as to who they may be affiliated with or what their intentions are in coming to our country in violation of law.
Among the laws that they violated by running our borders, by the way, are laws that are intended to prevent the entry of aliens into our country whose presence would pose a threat to our well being or even national security.  The immigration laws do not consider the race, religion or ethnicity of aliens seeking entry into our country.  The immigration laws do not consider race, religion or ethnicity in considering applications for various immigration benefits including the conferring of resident alien status or even United States citizenship.  The politicians who are pushing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform love to create the impression that those of us who want secure borders and the immigration laws enforced are being anti Latino or, in one way or another, racist.  The point is that the laws that must be enforced have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with discriminating against anyone because of race, religion or ethnicity.
If you doubt what the laws about the exclusion of aliens are about, here is a link to Title 8 of the United States Code, Section 212- these are the grounds under which an alien would be ineligible to be lawfully admitted into the United States: 
Next I want you to consider an extremely important question-
If we are all in agreement that a flawed screening process may enable terrorists to enter the United States, and indeed I would certainly agree that this does pose an extremely grave threat to national security- then what happens when an illegal alien applies for lawful status in our country and the adjudications officers at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) do not have a shred of reliable documentation to refer to in rendering a decision as to whether or not to grant that illegal alien who ran our borders in violation of our laws meaning that this alien’s presence in our country has been a violation of law from the moment he (she) set foot on American soil?  
Remember, when an alien is granted a visa to enter the United States, the decision as to whether or not to admit that alien rests with the CBP Inspector.  When an alien is granted lawful status by an adjudications officer at USCIS the game is over!  That alien is now lawfully able to immediately head for the Social Security office and apply for a Social Security Card.  That alien is lawfully able to head for the Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a Drivers License.  That alien is lawfully entitled to head to a bank or a number of banks and apply for credit cards and bank accounts and seek loans.  That alien is lawfully entitled to work in a wide variety of jobs in the United States including jobs that may provide access to critical infrastructure!  That alien may lawfully board airliners, enter government buildings and corporate office buildings.  The name on his (her) immigration documents would also be the name that would appear on all of those documents I just described.
What happens when it turns out that the alien lied about his true name and his real name appears on various terrorist watch lists and “No Fly” lists but he simply lied about h is identity and the adjudications officer who was under a severe time constraint and had no way of requiring a field investigation had to simply accept the name provided on the paperwork by that alien who is, I would remind you, “UNDOCUMENTED?”
This is not a farfetched scenario.  Criminals typically use many false aliases in order to conceal their true identities and cover their tracks.  The terrorists who attacked out nation on September 11, 2001 used many false identities as was noted in both the 9/11 Commission Report and in the followup document known as the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.  Here is the link to this lengthy report:
It has been said that the only thing worse than no security is false security.  When we provide official identity documents to an individual we are also providing that person with a high level of credibility.  If the person is able to game the system by which such identity documents are issued and secure an official identity document in a false name we enable bad guys to hide in plain sight or, in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission- we enable the bad guys to embed themselves in our country.  To a criminal or a terrorist false aliases provide the same sort of camouflage that a change in coloration provides to a chameleon- it enables them to hide among their intended victims until they are ready to strike!
Here is the predication for the report and a synopsis of the findings:
March 2011
Accountability • Integrity • Reliability
BORDER SECURITY

DHS’s Visa Security Program Needs to Improve Performance Evaluation and Better Address Visa Risk Worldwide

What GAO Found
ICE cannot accurately assess progress toward its VSP objectives. ICE outlined three primary objectives of the VSP—identifying and counteracting potential terrorist threats from entering the United States, identifying not-yet-known threats, and maximizing law enforcement and counterterrorism value of the visa process—and established performance measures intended to assess VSP performance, including situations where VSP agents provide information that results in a consular officer’s decision to deny a visa. ICE’s VSP tracking system, used to collect data on VSP activities, does not gather comprehensive data on all the performance measures needed to evaluate VSP mission objectives. In addition, data collected by ICE on VSP activities were limited by inconsistencies. ICE upgraded its VSP tracking system in April 2010 to collect additional performance data, but the system still does not collect data on all the performance measures. Therefore, ICE’s ability to comprehensively evaluate the performance of the VSP remains limited. While ICE can provide some examples demonstrating the success of VSP operations, ICE has not reported on the progress made toward achieving all VSP objectives.

Several challenges to the implementation of the VSP affected operations overseas. DHS and the Department of State (State) have issued some guidance, including several memorandums of understanding, to govern VSP operations. However, some posts experienced difficulties because of the limited guidance regarding interactions between State officials and VSP agents, which has led to tensions between the VSP agents and State officials at some posts. In addition, most VSP posts have not developed standard operating procedures for VSP operations, leading to inconsistency among posts. Additionally, the mandated advising and training of consular officers by VSP agents varies from post to post, and at some posts consular officers received no training. Finally, VSP agents perform a variety of investigative and administrative functions beyond their visa security responsibilities that sometimes slow or limit visa security activities, and ICE does not track this information in the VSP tracking system, making it unable to identify the time spent on these activities.

In 2007, ICE developed a 5-year expansion plan for the VSP, but ICE has not fully followed or updated the plan. For instance, ICE did not establish 9 posts identified for expansion in 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, the expansion plan states that risk analysis is the primary input to VSP site selection, and ICE, with input from State, ranked visa-issuing posts by visa risk, which includes factors such as the terrorist threat and vulnerabilities present at each post. However, 11 of the top 20 high-risk posts identified in the expansion plan are not covered by the VSP. Furthermore, ICE has not taken steps to address visa risk in high-risk posts that do not have a VSP presence. Although the expansion of the VSP is limited by a number of factors, such as budgetary limitations or limited embassy space, ICE has not identified possible alternatives that would provide the additional security of VSP review at those posts that do not have a VSP presence.

Highlights of GAO-11-315, a report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, U.S. Senate

Why GAO Did This Study
Since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Visa Security Program (VSP) has participated in the visa process by reviewing applications at some embassies and consulates, with the intention of preventing individuals who pose a threat from entering the United States. The attempted bombing of an airline on December 25, 2009, renewed concerns about the security of the visa process and the effectiveness of the VSP. For this report GAO assessed (1) the ability of DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to measure the program’s objectives and performance, (2) challenges to VSP operations, and (3) ICE efforts to expand the VSP program. To evaluate the VSP, we reviewed VSP data, guidance, and the ICE’s 5-year expansion plan. We also interviewed ICE officials, and observed VSP operations at 6 posts overseas.

What GAO Recommends
GAO made several recommendations designed to address weaknesses we identified in the VSP. DHS concurred with the recommendations that the VSP provide consular officer training and develop a plan to provide more VSP coverage at high-risk posts. DHS did not concur with the recommendations that the VSP collect comprehensive data on all performance measures and track the time spent on visa security activities. GAO continues to maintain that these recommendations are necessary to accurately assess VSP performance.

View GAO-11-315 or key components. For more information, contact Jess Ford at (202) 512-4268 or fordj@gao.gov.
It is also important to note that flaws in the visa program and the process by which aliens are provided with various immigration benefits also figured prominently in the terrorist attacks of 1993 nearly 19 years ago.  In fact, I was called to provide testimony for the very first time on May 20 1997 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims by the late Representative Henry Hyde who, at the time, chaired the House Judiciary Committee and Representative Lamar Smith who was, at that time, the Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee.  Today, as you probably know, Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The topic of that hearing was:
VISA FRAUD AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS APPLICATION FRAUD
Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju44195.000/hju44195_0f.htm


The incentive for this hearing was the terrorist attacks that had been carried out more than four years earlier, in 1993 when in January of 1993 a Pakistani national by the name of Amir Kansi who had been granted political asylum even though he lied on his application. He repaid our nation’s kindness (and frankly, ineptitude) by opening fire on cars being driven into the CIA parking lot that winter morning with an AK-47 and killing 2 CIA officers and wounding 3 others. He fled from the United States, was located, arrested and brought back to the United States to stand trial for those murders and assaults and was found guilty and executed for his crimes- but his victims remained dead.

One month later, in February 1993 attack at the World Trade Center involving the planting of a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center garage located under that once iconic complex left six victims dead, hundreds injured and an estimated 500 million dollars in damages inflicted on the complex that nearly caused one of the huge towers to topple sideways.

The terrorists involved in this attack had committed visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud in order to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country.

Nearly 9 years ago, in March of 2002, I was called to provide testimony about two other “students” who had gamed the immigration system.  There names were Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi.  If their names are familiar it may be because they were two of the terrorists who participated in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here is the link to the C-SPAN video of the Congressional hearing conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, at which I testified on March 19, 2002 as you watch this video I want you to consider how much has not changed in the more than 9 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/165862

Topic for the hearing:
“INS’S MARCH 2002 NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL OF CHANGE OF STATUS FOR PILOT TRAINING FOR TERRORIST HIJACKERS MOHAMMED ATTA AND MARWAN AL-SHEHHI”
Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing in its entirety


While we are on the topic of how terrorists have gamed the process by which visas are provided to students from foreign countries that enable them to enter the United States, we should also consider how often aliens engage in marriage fraud whereby they marry a United States citizen or resident alien in order to secure an Alien Registration Card (Green Card) that signifies that they have been granted lawful immigrant status and have been placed on the pathway to United States citizenship.  We should consider how many aliens have gamed the visa programs that provide temporary visas for foreign workers, who, contrary to the intention of the law, do indeed replace American and resident alien workers by accepting much lower wages and virtually no benefit packages.  In fact, many times such “temporary workers” don’t even meet the qualifications to do the jobs they claim they will do and take on totally different jobs secure in the knowledge that ICE will have no interest in looking for them because of an abject lack of resources to conduct field investigations!

The GAO has issued numerous reports on various aspects of immigration benefit fraud and other failings of the immigration system. You can see a list of these reports at:

http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/locate?searched=1&order_by=rel&keyword=immigration%20fraud&search_type=publications&o=0&add_topic=&add_type=&add_year=&add_fed_type=&add_fed_desc=&add_year=2000%20-%202009

On May 18, 2004 I was called by the then Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, Sheila Jackson Lee, and asked to testify before a hearing that was entitled:
“PUSHING THE BORDER OUT ON ALIEN SMUGGLING: NEW TOOLS AND INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVES”

Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing, in its entirety:

As an INS Special Agent, one of my responsibilities at the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and then when I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force where I spent the final ten years of my 30 year career with the INS was to help other law enforcement agencies recruit informants and cooperators!  There are a variety of visas and benefits that can be provided to illegal aliens who come forward and cooperate with law enforcement authorities.  There are also specific criminal charges that can be brought to bear against aliens who become involved in drug trafficking and other crimes as well as terrorism that are a part of our nation’s immigration laws or that require that the immigration component of the law violation be taken into account.  Often terrorists are not charged with terrorism but with committing visa fraud.  The visa issuing process has long been known as a major factor in national security and yet it would appear the most rudimentary issues where the visa issuing process are concerned are still not being addressed!
On May 11, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on the topic:
VISA OVERSTAYS:

CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?”

You can read the transcript of that hearing at:

Here is a link to a CNN report that was titled, “Tracking Down Visa Violators:”
Casey Wian and his producer, Sara Weisfeldt interviewed me for this report and I appear briefly on screen.
On May 10, 2010 I was interviewed by Daniel Gonzalez, a reporter with the Arizona Republic for an news report titled, “U.S. not cracking down on immigrants with expired visas.” Here is the link to the news report in which I was quoted:
The point to understand is that once an alien is admitted into our country there is virtually nothing done to make certain that the alien does not violate the terms of his admission into the United States.  A number of the 9/11 terrorists violated the terms of their admission into our country but to this very day, nearly nothing is done to impart even the slightest levels of integrity into this process.  The estimates as to how many such aliens are currently in our country who have overstayed or otherwise violated the terms of their admission but the estimates range from 5 million to perhaps as many as 10 million and yet there are fewer than 300 special agents of ICE who are tasked with attempting to locate and apprehend these aliens.  I would not be surprised if even if such aliens are apprehended that there is a lack of detention space to take them into custody pending their removal (deportation) from the United States!  (While “Catch & Release” was a hot topic for the Border Patrol, Catch & Release has been a fact of life for the efforts of agents at the former INS and now at ICE to seek the removal of illegal aliens who are apprehended within the interior of the United States!)
Another important issue you should consider is the insane Visa Waiver Program which enables aliens from some 36 countries to enter the United States without first applying for and obtaining a visa for the United States.  Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber attempted to destroy a U.S. bound airliner that was packed with passengers and crew members by detonating explosives he had hidden in his shoes.  Richard Reid is a citizen of Great Britain and therefore he was not required to obtain a visa before flying to the United States to apply for admission into our country.  Had he been required to obtain a visa, if there had been no Visa Waiver Program, it is likely he would never have secured the visa and would have not been permitted to board the airliner he intended to destroy.  Our government officials now require citizens of the United States and all others who seek to board airliners to remove their shoes for inspection because of Mr. Reid- however, the vulnerability created by the Visa Waiver Program has not only been utterly ignored, but more countries have since been added to list of those countries whose citizens do not need to seek visas before traveling to the United States to apply for admission into our country even though other terrorists have also entered our country under the Visa Waiver Program!
You can review the State Department’s website for information about this wrong headed and, indeed, treacherous Visa Waiver Program at: 

Currently, 36 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:

Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece the Netherlands United Kingdom
Some time ago I compiled a list of the ways in which the visa process can be helpful to law enforcement and bolster our nation’s efforts to prevent the entry of aliens whose presence on our country may prove harmful to our nation and our citizens. 

Here is the list of the 6 benefits that the visa requirement provides to national security and that the Visa Waiver Program denies our nation:

 

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.  Their’s 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:

https://evisaforms.state.gov/ds156.asp

 
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 am extremely happy that an important vulnerability concerning national security is being considered.  However, I would remind you that it only took our nation 44 months to respond to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and bring World War II to a successful conclusion.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our scientists, engineers, technicians and other highly educated and skilled Americans to send men to the moon and return them safely to the earth, the United States rose to meet the challenge and we sent Apollo astronauts to the moon not just once but a number of times!
There is such a lack of leadership in Washington that you can hear the sucking sound of the vacuum created by the “brain trust” that is in charge of our nation today!

If a nation cannot provide for the safety and security of its citizens, then nothing else that the nation does or aspires to do matters!
The effective enforcement and administration of our nation’s immigration laws are, arguably, among the most important of all missions that are supposed to be carried out by our federal government.  
Nothing less than the security of our nation and safety of our citizens hang in the balance!
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 resolve this year 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 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!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:


http://www.gsnmagazine.com/node/23086?c=federal_agencies_legislative

Published on Government Security News (http://www.gsnmagazine.com)

Senators say visa security program implementation ‘troubling’

Sens. Collins (R-ME), Lieberman (I-CT)

A program meant to screen out terrorists overseas before they can get to the U.S. has significant problems with implementation and confusion among DHS, ICE and State Department participants, said two leading senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) said the Visa Security Program “is riven by slow implementation, insufficient operating guidelines, and inter-agency disagreements,” in an April 21 statement. They said implementation of the eight year-old program that places Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at consular posts abroad to review and investigate visa applications in order to bar terrorists from obtaining visas to enter the U.S., is woefully behind and confused.

They pointed to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found just over half of the 20 consular offices most at risk of processing visas from potential terrorists have no VSP presence. A number of problems plague the program, they said. According to the report, said Lieberman and Collins, ICE and the State Department haven’t developed adequate guidelines or operational procedures for VSP units at consular offices, while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State Department can’t agree on the degree of association a visa applicant must have to a terrorist to render the applicant ineligible.

“This GAO report paints a very disappointing and troubling picture of the Visa Security Program, which is such an important part of our strategy to keep terrorists from entering the United States,” Lieberman said. “The VSP is not working the way we need it to.

Collins and Lieberman had asked the GAO to assess the effectiveness of the program following the December, 2009 attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by a Nigerian man who obtained a U.S. visa. The program’s three primary objectives are identifying and stopping terrorists from traveling, identifying future threats, and maximizing the law enforcement and counterterrorism value of the visa process.

The GAO report found that VSP is operating at 19 consular posts, out of 216 that issue visas, while 11 of the 20 highest risk posts identified by a joint DHS/State Department assessment have no VSP presence at all, said the Lieberman and Collins statement. GAO concluded that ICE has not worked to address the problem of high-risk posts that lack VSP units, nor has ICE established nine posts identified for expansion in 2009 and 2010, they said.

GAO also found that limited guidance from DHS and State has led to “confusion and inconsistency among posts.” Lieberman and Collins said training of consular officers varies from post to post and doesn’t even exist at some posts and gauging the program’s effectiveness is further hampered because ICE does not produce reports assessing VSP’s performance. The data that ICE does collect is unreliable, they said. The report concluded that ICE has been unable to meet the program’s goals because of budget limitations and State Department objections to expanding the program to some posts.

“I am particularly upset by GAO’s conclusion that the Departments of Homeland Security and State cannot agree on grounds to deny a visa to an applicant. Any association with terrorism should be enough to stop a visa applicant from coming to our country,” he said.

“I hope this report will move Secretaries Napolitano and Clinton  to quickly make sure that personnel within their two departments are working together to fulfill the purpose of the Visa Security Program so that the significant gains we have made in securing our borders will not be lost because of bureaucratic disagreements or inattention.”

“Effective operation of the Visa Security Program is a critical aspect of the security system that is intended to keep terrorists from entering our country,” said Collins.  “That is why the problems uncovered by GAO are so troubling.”


 

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