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Visas for Suspected Terrorists? Mowbray: The State Dept. fights for the right to issue U.S. visas
National Review Online ^ | 7-17-2002 | Joel Mowbray

Posted on 07/17/2002 4:02:23 PM PDT by Havisham

July 17, 2002, 12:50 p.m. Visas for Suspected Terrorists? State defends the indefensible.

The State Department is fighting a terrorism task force's recommendation that suspected terrorists be denied visas — this is the same department that wants to hold onto the visa-issuance power in a time of war when our enemies want nothing more than entry into the United States.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage responded to the recommendation by writing to the Justice Department that "[believing that] an applicant may pose a threat to national security... is insufficient [grounds] for a consular officer to deny a visa." No, this letter wasn't written before last year's tragedy; it was written on June 10, 2002, one day shy of the nine-month anniversary of 9/11.

The Justice Department's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) made a very common-sense request: deny visas to people who may well be terrorists. State refuses to do it, even though the law requires it; the Immigration and Naturalization Act clearly provides for keeping out people suspected of being national-security threats: "[If] a consular officer knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, [an alien] is engaged in, or is likely to engage after entry, in any terrorist activity" the officer can deny the visa to the alien.

State's position is no surprise, as the department has repeatedly stressed the notion of "fundamental fairness" for foreign visa applicants. Even in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, State believes that all foreigners should be treated with "fundamental fairness," even if that means issuing visas to suspected terrorists.

State's response to FTTTF is in keeping with its reaction to negative publicity about their Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia: It twists the truth and sticks to its guns in advancing the interests of foreigners. The law is unequivocal: If someone is deemed a threat to national security, that person can be denied a visa. State, however, finds the law inconvenient, so it distorts the law: "[I]f there are no grounds under the law on which to deny an alien a visa, the consular officer is required to issue a visa," Armitage wrote. This is simply not true.

Under the law, all foreigners are presumed ineligible for a visa, unless and until they can prove otherwise — as even Deputy State Department Press Secretary Phil Reeker noted last week. "Everywhere in the world, non-immigrant visa applicants are... ineligible for a visa unless they can demonstrate otherwise."

State is fighting for the rights of suspected terrorists to enter the United States at the same time that it is fighting in Congress to hang on to authority over visa issuance.

Given that all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists came here on legal visas, nothing would seem more central to the focus of the Department of Homeland Security than keeping terrorists from reaching our shores in the first place. Reps. Dave Weldon (R, Fla.) and Dan Burton (R, Ind.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R, Ia.) agree, which is why they're pushing transfer visa power from State to Homeland Security. State, however, has other ideas. Secretary of State Colin Powell has been leaning hard on individual congressmen to keep visa authority within his department, despite State's overwhelming record of failure in securing our borders.

Powell's lobbying has badly distorted the truth, and in the rush to complete the homeland-security bill, he has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of many good congressmen. About the only thing that might overcome Powell's deceptions is public pressure demanding that State lose its ability to hand out visas.

Powell is intent on making sure Homeland Security won't have a real say in keeping terrorists from getting visas. The "compromise" to the president's proposed structure of the new department that several congressional committees have settled on would do little more than have Homeland Security issue memos from Washington, leaving "operational control" in the hands of State. Operational control is like possession: It's nine tenths of the law.

If State retains operational control, it would be able to implement — or ignore — regulations issued by Homeland Security in whatever fashion it chooses. The entrenched "courtesy culture" that continues to sacrifice border security at the altar of convenience for foreign visa applicants would thwart efforts by Homeland Security to keep out bad guys, just as it has done to similar attempts by the Justice Department. Ten months after 9/11, State is still fighting proposals to deny visas to suspected terrorists.

Since the Justice Department more or less now serves the same "regulatory" role over visa issuance that Homeland Security is scheduled (in the current version of the bill in Congress) to serve after the new department is created, State will be able to act as it is now, insisting on lax treatment of visa applicants, even ones that are suspected terrorists. Only Congress can put a stop to that — and that will only happen in the face of public pressure to take visa powers away from State and put them in the hands of Homeland Security.

The Select Committee on Homeland Security, which is voting this Friday on visa-issuance authority, and be contacted by the phone/fax/e-mail below:

Phone: (202) 225-4000; Fax: (202) 225-1115; E-mail: sf.nancy@mail.house.gov.

— Joel Mowbray is an NRO contributor and a Townhall.com columnist.


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Announcements; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ftttf; immigration; richardarmitage; statedepartment; terrorism; terrorists; visaexpress; visas
Go to it Freepers!
1 posted on 07/17/2002 4:02:23 PM PDT by Havisham
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To: Havisham
"State believes that all foreigners should be treated with "fundamental fairness..."

Powell doesn't squat without the approval of the President. If the President seeks to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, he can hardly oppose the doctrinaire asses at State who belive in "fundamental fairness." Can he?
2 posted on 07/17/2002 4:10:41 PM PDT by old school
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To: Havisham
Going back to Alger Hiss, the State Department has had its share of traitors. I can see that 50 years later not much has changed. Seems to me someone needs to go through the State Department with a large and efficient broom. We knew that GWB had to clean out the Justice Department after the clintonistas had burrowed in. I don't know to what degree that purge has been carried out, but the problem with State is going to be that much harder, as the rats have had that much more time to make their nest.
3 posted on 07/17/2002 4:22:11 PM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: Havisham
Colon Bowell being a PR agent for Al Qaeda? Sometimes I think the State Department doesn't know who its supposed to be defending as its dumb insistence on issuing visas to foreigners regardless of their threat risk to the U.S shows. And after 911 one thought things finally changed for the better. Joel Mowbray is doing excellent work, which is no wonder why Foggy Bottom hates that man.
4 posted on 07/17/2002 4:26:15 PM PDT by goldstategop
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To: Havisham
Lose out on bribes too.
5 posted on 07/17/2002 4:34:54 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Havisham
Let them have the visas but immediately deport them at whatever port of entry they use. Let them spend money, let state have its way, and then send them home without ever letting them step onto US ground.
6 posted on 07/17/2002 4:35:58 PM PDT by RWG
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To: Havisham
Of course they're fighting. They're fighting for their masters.

In Saudi Arabia.

7 posted on 07/17/2002 5:42:03 PM PDT by Cachelot
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To: Havisham
How about NO visas from Saudi Arabia, period? No travel visas, no student visas, no H1-Bs. Nada. Zip. And also, how about we fly the women and girl US citizens OUT of there, and tell the Saudis what they can do with their "exit visas?"
8 posted on 07/17/2002 6:36:45 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: RWG
No, I say shoot them until you run out of ammo and then hoist their bullet riddled underware as a warning to what ever dumb bastard may want to try it next.
9 posted on 07/17/2002 6:50:26 PM PDT by lwoodham
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To: Havisham
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage responded to the recommendation by writing to the Justice Department that "[believing that] an applicant may pose a threat to national security... is insufficient [grounds] for a consular officer to deny a visa."

Comment self-censored.

10 posted on 07/17/2002 7:51:43 PM PDT by browardchad
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To: RWG; Marine Inspector
I wish it was that easy to deny entry at the border. The govt. actually makes INS prove that there are Grounds of Inadmissiblity applicable for each denial. Because the LAWYERS fight for the rights? of applicants for admission into the US? We SHOULD have a "you are not right" charge for inadmissibility, but they still haven't passed that one into effect.
Preventing them from landing on US soil is much better, except that State doesn't want to offend any one and do their job. they are scared, maybe cuz they Live there and are intimidated to say NO on visa applications when surrounded by foreigners on foreign soil.
bizarre, pathetic and sad.
At least the HEAT is finally on for the state debacle.
11 posted on 07/17/2002 11:25:10 PM PDT by fredtaps
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To: old school
State believes that all foreigners should be treated with "fundamental fairness

This is an absurd idea since not all countries are equal. Our ability to evaluate the character of a person seeking entry is dependent upon the transparency and integrity of the system from which they come; a closed system where immigrants can easily or even routinely bribe officials to get paperwork needed to come to the US is not equal to a system where such bribery is very difficult and where there is a lively free press to report on news relating to crime and other activities. In the former system it is impossible to clear a person as a person of character; in the latter we have more reliable information, from various perspectives, on a person's background to compare with the individual's claims.

12 posted on 07/17/2002 11:43:14 PM PDT by piasa
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To: Havisham
bttt

Un - !$%$@$%#$^% - believable!

13 posted on 07/18/2002 10:28:41 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
We are frickin' DOOMED!

The bitch of it is, the next terrorist incident in the US will NEVER be targeted at the State Department, or at ANY media outlet!

Even Islamzis know where there ALLIES are...

Again...we are FRICKIN' DOOMED!

14 posted on 07/18/2002 11:00:40 AM PDT by Itzlzha
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To: valkyrieanne
Ohhhh,I like you!
15 posted on 07/18/2002 1:00:27 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: Itzlzha
Yep,doomed!
16 posted on 07/18/2002 1:01:16 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: browardchad; aristeides; Fred Mertz; OKCSubmariner; Iwentsouth; rdavis84
And this is supposed to make me want to support ANY politician who says the "War on Terrorism" is real and deserves the billions of tax $$$$$$ being spent on it ?

If this was World War II, and we were letting in military aged men from Japan and Germany, would no one get hysterical?

Are we sooo informed and nfo-teched that we have lost all reason?


17 posted on 07/18/2002 1:11:46 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: contessa machiaveli
FYI
18 posted on 07/18/2002 1:19:30 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: Betty Jo
The State Department is a 5th Column in our country.
19 posted on 07/18/2002 1:25:38 PM PDT by Iwentsouth
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To: Iwentsouth
Now, now,is that nice?
20 posted on 07/18/2002 1:47:04 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: lwoodham
Another good solution!
21 posted on 07/18/2002 1:48:36 PM PDT by RWG
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To: fredtaps
I am not sure state is afraid. I have seen reports that state has its own agenda that is counter to everything we might believe this country ought to stand for.
22 posted on 07/18/2002 1:50:25 PM PDT by RWG
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To: Betty Jo
But we need a $100 billion Homeland Defense to protect us from all those who "pose a threat to national security" that the State Department and INS admit on a daily basis -- get it?
23 posted on 07/18/2002 1:58:17 PM PDT by browardchad
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To: browardchad; OKCSubmariner; aristeides; Fred Mertz; rdavis84; EBUCK; Iwentsouth
Ya got me on a merry-go-round.

Are you saying that the $$$$$ will NOT be used to destroy terrorists?

Are you saying that the $$$$$ asked for is just another phoney ruse to get $$$$$$?

Have you seen the article in the Washington Times on Drudge right now, about e-mails ?
24 posted on 07/18/2002 2:14:25 PM PDT by Betty Jo
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To: Havisham
By using such arguments, the State Department is self-destructing: you don't defend your turf by using arguments that discredit themselves.

Plus, by detaining Joel Mowbray, and then not making it clear that such a boneheaded move will not be repeated, the State Department is ensuring that it will get unfavorable press. More self-destruction.

25 posted on 07/18/2002 2:31:08 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: aristeides
Uh huh. I can't wait to see Colon Bowell and Dick Boucher get a well deserved black eye.
26 posted on 07/18/2002 2:32:35 PM PDT by goldstategop
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To: browardchad
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage responded to the recommendation by writing to the Justice Department that "[believing that] an applicant may pose a threat to national security... is insufficient [grounds] for a consular officer to deny a visa."

I have no such sub-routine in my data banks....i.e. Comment self-censored.

*OD*AMMITTTTTT!!!!!

If posing a threat to national security doesn't AUTOMATICALLY disquality a person WHAT THE *ELL DOES?????

EBUCK

27 posted on 07/18/2002 2:45:49 PM PDT by EBUCK
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To: EBUCK
isn't sufficient?????? then what the heck is???
28 posted on 07/18/2002 3:40:30 PM PDT by contessa machiaveli
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To: contessa machiaveli
"I'll tell you what, (to use a more common term from my local red-neck bretheren) this has got to be just about the last straw!"

What the *ell are we paying these jackasses for if suspected terrorists are not instantly disqualified from the visa process? If they don't get flagged who does? I want to see the actual criteria! I'm gonna go look it up....

EBUCK

29 posted on 07/18/2002 4:52:21 PM PDT by EBUCK
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To: Havisham
I'm not trying to be alarmist or stupid, but these people make you want to take up arms and overthrow their traitorous little outpost at the State Dept.
This is so far beyond the pale that it causes me to seriously suspect a Saudi front within our own State Dept. The FBI/CIA need to turn their attention to Colin Bowelestine et al.
30 posted on 07/19/2002 5:30:39 PM PDT by CaptBlack
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