“Congressional Leaders: Terror Threat Greater Than Before Sept 11, 2001”
“Congressional Leaders: Terror Threat Greater Than Before Sept 11, 2001”
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.)
The title for my commentary is based on news reports concerning the sobering assessments of both Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and her counterpart in the House of Representatives, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.
On December 1, 2013 the Huffington Post ran a worrying report:
The report focused on statements made by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, when she was interviewed for CNN’s program, “State of the Union.”
Here is how the report began:
Interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she believed that there are now more terrorists with the technological means to carry out a bombing in the U.S.
Here is an additional important excerpt from the Huffington Post article:
“I think terror is up worldwide,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. “There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb-maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.”
Feinstein added that there was “a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community, and that is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong and that the only thing that’s going to solve this is Islamic Sharia law.”
On the same day, December 1, 2013 Newsmax posted the report that provided an even more dire warning:
This report began with this unambiguous assessment:
The U.S. is in greater danger of a terrorist attack than it was prior to September 11 and has less ability to prevent such aggression by Islamist radicals, key congressional intelligence leaders said Sunday.
This report ended with the following statement:
Feinstein is pushing legislation to protect NSA practices but require more congressional reporting.
Stop and consider that while she is willing to accept a loss of privacy in the name of security she blithely ignores anything that relates to the 9/11 Commission, its findings or its recommendations.
Senator Feinstein, other members of Congress and members of the administration refuse, however, to discuss a fundamental fact that is noted in the first paragraph found in the preface of the The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel:
“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.”
Ms Feinstein has articulated her serious concerns about these existential threats to America and Americans and are certainly justified. The obvious question is why wouldn’t she seek to heed her own words and call for measures being implemented to prevent terrorists from entering the United States in the first place? Why wouldn’t she call for making certain that the immigration benefits program that provides lawful status and just as importantly, official identity documents to aliens has real integrity?
On September 20, 2013 CAPS posted my commentary:
I wrote that commentary in response to the cries of outrage from members of Congress and President Obama in demanding to know how both Snowden who made illegal unauthorized disclosures about the NSA and the Washington Navy Yard shooter- Alexander Alexis could have been granted security clearances.
Both of these individuals were subjected to full field investigations which involved face to face interviews with them and with their neighbors, family members and co-workers. It is absolutely important to find out if the way that their background investigations were conducted could have been more effective.
On June 20, 2013 the Huffington Post ran a report:
(For the sake of clarity- USIS is a private company and not related to USCIS, an agency under the aegis of ghe DHS.)
It is worth considering a statement by Senator Claire McCaskill, contained in that report:
“We are limited in what we can say about this investigation because it is an ongoing criminal matter,” McCaskill said. “But it is a reminder that background investigations can have real consequences for our national security.”
Yet Ms McCaskill and members of Congress who have demanded to know how the system that provided clearances to these two individuals have yet to say a word about how USCIS provides identity documents to illegal aliens whose true identities, actual dates of entry into the United States, backgrounds and affiliations are unknown and unknowable.
In fact, McCaskill is an ardent supporter of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. How in the world can she talk about the true importance of proper background checks from a perspective of national security while being a staunch advocate for a program that would provide official identity documents to unknown millions of aliens who evaded the inspections process, to surreptitiously enter the United States, for reasons only known to them? Can she not hear her own words?
The administration ill-conceived DACA (Deferred Action- Childhood Arrival) program has already provided hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens up to age 31, with temporary lawful status and identity documents without so much as a face-to-face interview. There are no resources to conduct field investigations to seek to uncover fraud in the applications. What could possibly go wrong with that program?
On October 28, 2013 CAPS posted my commentary about the dangers posed by current failures of the immigration system and the ability Terrorists and others who pose a threat to national security and public safety to game the system. Dumping millions of files onto the desks of adjudications officers who cannot deal with their workload now would only serve to exacerbate this serious threat to America and Americans- indeed all who are present in the United States including members of the various immigrant communities. My article was titled:
Comprehensive Immigration Reform would have to operate in much the same way- no face-to-face interviews and no meaningful resources to conduct field investigations to make certain that fraud is deterred. There is no way to proporly scrutinize millions of applications even while dealing with the onslaught of applications that USCIS already deals with each year- more than 6 million applications are generally received by the agency annually.
On November 1, 2013 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization posted my commentary:
Yet Ms Feinstein is not alone in ignoring the immigration component to national security. Every member of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives who favors
Perhaps she should take a breath and actually listen to her own words.
We will focus on this disconnect and seek to understand why this may be happening.
Indeed, he United States remains at risk. The “All Clear” has not sounded. In point of fact, on April 15, 2013 terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon and killed a campus police officer.
On May 2, 2013 I was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News to discuss the immigration aspects of this case. Fox News posted a video of the interview on its website with the title:
Congressman Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, has come to similar conclusions as Senator Feinstein about the elevated risk of a terrorist attack being carried out on American soil. He was quoted in the news report as stating, “The pressure on our intelligence service to get it right to prevent an attack is enormous.”
Of course effective and actionable intelligence is vital. What is never mentioned is that often intelligence is developed through the enforcement and administration of the immigration procedures and the procedures by which visas are applied for. In point of fact, the Visa Waiver Program which now permits citizens of 37 countries to seek to enter the United States without first applying for a visa.
On September 11, 2001 ten fewer countries participated in this program which strips away a vital layer of security and denies our intelligence services and law enforcement agencies vital tools and data. All to promote tourism as demanded by the Chamber of Commerce and the various companies that are involved in tourism, travel and manufacturing industries.
Our government is apparently responding to the extreme pressure to expand the Visa Waiver Program being brought to bear by the Chamber of Commerce and executives of the travel, hospitality and related industries under the auspices of a program known as the Discover America Partnership.
On July 12, 2011 Californians for Population Stabilization posted my commentary:
My commentary contained a list of six ways that an effectively administered visa program protects America and Americans that we lose through the implementation of the Visa Waiver Program. Here is an excerpt of my commentary that contains that list:
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.
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. There’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 four 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 invaluable intelligence as well as investigative leads.
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.
What is incomprehensible is that not one politician who expresses concerns about the threat of terrorism will even make a passing reference to the 9/11 Commission Report or to the companion document, the The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.
These reports were mandated by the government in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 which caused the death of roughly the same number of victims as did the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The 9/11 Commission was supposed to conduct a thorough investigation to look at every facet of the terror attack and then publish a report that would document what went wrong, each step of the way, that enabled the terrorists to enter the United States in the first place and then be able to hide in plain sight, or in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission, to embed themselves in the United States.
The obvious goal was to identify each and every vulnerability so that they could be effectively addressed to make certain that every reasonable measure was taken to prevent future attacks.
This is not unlike the process by which the FAA and NTSB investigate a plane crash to find out what went wrong and implement essential changes in such issues as pilot training, aircraft maintenance and design and construction of the same type of aircraft that, in the parlance of test pilots, “augured in” and made a smoking hole in the ground.
There must be a reason why the 9/11 Commission Report is never cited. Think of how much time, money and effort went into producing that document. Thousands of people were interviewed (I was one of them.)
Yet not a word about the 9/11 Commission, its reports or its findings or recommendations are ever spoken today by our political “leaders!”
There is a reason I believe that these important reports are being ignored. Politicians who value their political careers, above all else, want to continue to rake in campaign contributions and fear that if they do anything that would upset the contributors, that their contributions would evaporate. Immigration is big business and is sponsored by big business and others who have a vested interest in keeping America’s borders open.
The Spring 2012 edition of a quarterly publication, “The Social Contract,” contains a lengthy article which I wrote that was entitled, “Immigration: The Modern Day Gold Rush.”
While not all inclusive, it does provide a good idea as to how many individuals and organizations see the potential for huge profits at the expense of America and American workers and their families.
Some politicians have also come to accept the wrong-headed notion that the only way to garner the mythical “Latino vote” is to ignore the findings of the 9/11 Commission report where immigration is concerned. Indeed, both of these documents clearly reported on how failures of the immigration and visa issuance programs enabled the terrorists to enter the United States by committing visa fraud and detailed how the terrorists gamed the immigration benefits programs including the first immigration amnesty that was an integral part of the 1986 Amnesty.
The agenda to provide those who seek open borders, such as the Chamber of Commerce, companies that seek ever cheaper labor, companies involved in the travel and tourism industries, banks and financial service corporations that provide remittance services, and many others, has taken priority over national security, public safety and commonsense.
Here is an important paragraph from the 9/11 Commission Report:
Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.45
Consider that the inspections process is supposed to prevent the entry of terrorists into the United States. Aliens who evade the inspections obviously do so because they know that they could not be legally admitted into the United States. Furthermore, you will notice that the last sentence of the paragraph above talked about the tracking of the arrival and departure of nonimmigrant aliens and foreign students. Both programs are still not working effectively even though they were mandated by the 9/11 Commission. The federal government has spent over a billion dollars over the past decade and the ability to determine something as fundamental as whether or not a foreign visitor has left the United States. Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, S.744 would still not mandate that this system be effectively completed.
Although the 9/11 Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel discussed the issue of visas and immigration benefits in conjunction with terrorist attacks- and not just the attacks of 9/11 but other activities by some 94 terrorists identified as operating in the United States in the decade preceding the attacks of September 11, 2001, these vulnerabilities were known long before the attacks of 9/11.
The United States was attacked twice in 1993 by international terrorists from the Middle East who had easily gamed the visa process and immigration benefits program. This was more than 20 years ago. The continuing failures to address these vulnerabilities left America wide open to the terrorist attacks that would follow on September 11, 2001.
It was known that visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were among the vulnerabilities that made the 9/11 attacks possible. In fact, on May 20, 1997, more than four years before the attacks of 9/11, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims conducted a hearing that was predicated on the two attacks of 1993 at the CIA in January and the first World Trade bombing one month later, on the topic:
I participated as a witness at that hearing. It was my first appearance before a Congressional hearing but would hardly my last.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted:
“Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.”
It is significant to note that the Seasonal Agricultural Program, also known as the Special Agricultural Program (SAW) were major components of the 1986 Amnesty at that New York’s then Congressman Chuck Schumer was one of that program’s major architects even though there were absolutely no farms in his congressional district when he concocted it.
This paragraph is found on page 98 of the report, under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
“The Social Contract” published my article in its Summer, 2013 edition, on how fraud in the political asylum program currently enables our enemies to see in America’s compassion, weakness. The title of my article was:
On November 30, 2013 CAPS posted my commentary:
My article was predicated on a hard-hitting report posted by ABC News on November 20, 2013:
The bottom line is the America’s borders and immigration laws are, or at least are supposed to be an integral component of national security. In the days, weeks and months after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 a parade of political leaders seeking a “Photo-Op” stood in front of a forest of microphones and television cameras and self-righteously pounded the podium and thumped their chests demanding to an answer to the question, “Why had no one connected the dots?”
The 9/11 Commission was convened to make certain that the dots were connected- ostensibly to prevent future attacks and future loss of life.
There have been a long succession of congressional hearings that have addressed the threats posed by international terrorists and members of transnational gangs operating in the United States. I have been called to testify before more than a dozen such hearings.
Perhaps the highest profile hearing I for which I have been called to testify was conducted on March 19, 2002 by the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, on the topic:
This hearing was covered by C-SPAN and the C-SPAN video every member of Congress should be required to watch it. It is unfathomable how twelve years after that hearing was conducted into one of the most outrageous screw-ups that all of the promises to address the failures of the system continue to plaque the very same system that would be required to adjudicate the applications filed by unknown millions of illegal illegal aliens in the United States under “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
Instead of simply pushing back against Comprehensive Immigration Reform, all Americans irrespective of political affiliations, should be demanding that the commitments promised by the members of Congress at that hearing be met. Our nation’s immigration laws are utterly blind as to race, religion and ethnicity. Those laws and the entire immigration system that serves as our first line of defense and last line of defense and must be made to operate effectively and with true integrity.
National security is neither a Democrat nor a Republican issue. It is not a “Liberal” or “Conservative” issue! National security should be the primary concern of every American of every race, religion and ethnicity!
On July 27, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic:
In my testimony back then, I made my opposition to the Senate immigration bill, S.2611 abundantly clear. I noted that any member of Congress who would vote to provide lawful status and identity documents for millions of illegal aliens should be given “The MVP Award by al-Qaeda!” You can see a segment of my testimony at that hearing in a video that has been posted on You Tube.
What I said back then applies more today than ever before!