Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Contrast in Delusions: The TSA vs. Domestic Immigration Enforcement - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

The lack of integrity to the adjudications process has been the subject of a series of congressional hearings, Inspector General (OIG) investigations and reports, yet things have only gotten worse since.

Berlin_Schönefeld_Airport_metal_detectorsOn June 2, 2015 the Washington Times published a report about how massive failures of screeners employed by the TSA, an agency that operates under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), failed to find weapons, in the great majority of instances, when undercover operatives went through the screening process. The article, “TSA chief ousted after airport security flunks test, misses most weapons, explosives” included this excerpt:
The acting chief of the Transportation Security Administration was ousted late Monday night after an embarrassing new report found that airport security officers badly failed a new test, missing almost every firearm and explosive investigators tried to sneak by them.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the move, saying Melvin Carraway had been “reassigned” to another part of the department and his deputy would take over, serving until the Senate can confirm a new chief.
Earlier in the night Mr. Johnson had said he’d just been given a classified briefing on the inspector general’s findings that found a major loophole in security that could allow people to sneak prohibited items by TSA screeners and into what were supposed to be secure areas of airports.
Mr. Johnson said the preliminary findings were classified and said it wasn’t “appropriate or prudent” to talk about them — but ABC News reported that IG investigators managed to sneak contraband material by TSA screeners in 67 of 70 tests.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and contains a number of agencies that are charged with addressing the failures that enabled the terrorists who carried out those attacks, to enter the United States, embed themselves in the United States and then hijack airliners, using them as de facto “cruise missiles.”

Among the agencies that operate under the aegis of the DHS are:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA): This agency is charged with keeping weapons or other harmful materials off of airliners along with people who appear on “no fly lists.” It is a simple concept and one that is apparently easy for people to comprehend. In order to achieve this goal officers employed by the TSA carry out ever more intrusive searches of airline passengers and their baggage. Passengers are subjected to x-rays, raising concerns. Passengers are also prohibited from bringing certain items into the passenger cabin of the airliners including large quantities of liquids, etc.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The mission of this agency, which includes inspectors at ports of entry, and Border Patrol, which operates between ports of entry, is to make certain that aliens and cargo are not smuggled into the United States and that the inspection of both people and objects keep criminals and terrorists along with other foreign nationals whose presence would be problematic, from entering the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): This agency is charged with enforcing our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States to backstop the personnel at CBP. When aliens evade the inspections process by entering the United States without inspection, ICE is supposed to seek them out and take them into custody so that they can be removed (deported from the United States). ICE is also responsible for identifying, locating and arresting aliens who are lawfully admitted but then go on to violate the terms of their admission by overstaying their authorized period of admission, accepting unlawful employment, failing to attend schools (in the case of foreign students) or being convicted of committing crimes.

ICE is also supposed to conduct investigations into possible fraud when applicants lie about material facts in applications for various immigration benefits for aliens filed with USCIS and to conduct investigations to identify, arrest and prosecute fraud document vendors.

Finally, ICE assigns agents to work on various multi-agency task forces.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): This agency employs adjudications officers who are responsible for adjudicating applications for immigration benefits. If an Alien Registration Receipt Card, a “Green Card,” and especially United States citizenship are the “keys to the kingdom,” then USCIS is America’s locksmith. This agency confers these benefits, in addition to others, upon aliens.

The ink was barely dry in the newspaper reports about the failures of the TSA to find planted weapons when the director of that agency was re-assigned. Jeh Johnson wasted no time in shaking up the agency that is supposed to keep weapons and terrorists off of our airliners.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he was as determined to keep alien criminals, terrorists and narcotics out of the United States and off the streets of towns and cities across our nation?

Time and time again politicians from both sides of the political aisle claim that the immigration system is “broken.” They claim that the presence of millions of illegal aliens prove how broken the system is. For most of the politicians, the “fix” is to provide millions of aliens who entered the United States without inspection is to simply provide them with lawful status and identity documents — knowing full well that the sheer number of aliens would preclude the ability to conduct in-person interviews or conduct routine field investigations to deter fraud. Effective enforcement of our laws to deter illegal immigration and other violations of our immigration laws is never discussed by anyone.

The 9/11 Commission Report noted that flaws and vulnerabilities in the immigration system failed to prevent the entry and subsequent embedding of not only the 19 hijackers who savagely attacked our nation on that horrific day nearly 14 years ago, but other terrorists who were identified as operating in the United States in the decade leading up to the attacks of 9/11.

In point of fact, it was determined that the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world and cross international borders, especially the borders of the United States, and embed themselves were essential to ability of the terrorists to carry out those deadly attacks.

These obvious facts were not only a major theme of the 9/11 Commission report and findings, but also for the staff of federal agents, from a variety of federal agencies, and for the attorneys who were assigned to assist the work of the 9/11 Commission.

To this point, one of the reports that the 9/11 Commission staff produced was the “9/11 and Terrorist Travel Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.” This report was one of several that members of the 9/11 Commission staff, the federal agents and the attorneys, wrote about the findings of the Commission,
This report focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the United States as they went about their deadly preparations. The preface of this report begins with the following paragraph:
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.
Page 61 contained this passage:
Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists
In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.149 Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups.150 With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the “credentials” necessary to aid terrorist travel.
This paragraph is found on page 98 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.
On April 25, 2013 the Associated Press published an article, “GOP rep weighs asylum review in immigration bill” that included this excerpt:
“People getting asylum because they are in the minority, but engaging in aggressive tactics in their home country that may cause them to be susceptible to doing the same thing elsewhere, that obviously ought to be a part of our consideration in granting political asylum to avoid situations like Boston,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who’s working to develop a series of bills to fix problems with the country’s immigration system.
Goodlatte didn’t specify what might need to be changed in the asylum process, only saying it’s something that bears examination in the wake of the Boston bombings. So do with other aspects of the U.S. immigration system, including the naturalization process by which immigrants become U.S. citizens, Goodlatte said. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen while Tamerlan Tsarnaev had sought citizenship but had not had his application granted.
Chairman Goodlatte is certainly correct that the process by which applications for political asylum and United States citizenship need to be studied to make certain that this important humane program not undermine national security and public safety. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee he called hearings into abuses and vulnerabilities of the asylum program that defy comprehension.

On February 11, 2014, a hearing was conducted by the House Judiciary Committee on the issue: “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?”

On December 12, 2013, a hearing was conducted on the issue: “Asylum Abuse: Is it Overwhelming our Borders?”

It is worth noting that the December 12th hearing limited its concerns to how abuse of the political asylum program was overwhelming our borders. In point of fact, this program has overwhelmed the entire immigration system in each and every one of our fifty states. Of course limiting the hearing to the issue of only “our borders” coincides neatly with the myth that all our nation needs to do in preparation for a massive amnesty program is to secure our southern border.

Both hearings made it clear that there is a serious lack of integrity to the political asylum program. This important humanitarian program processes thousands of applications each year. Yet, the fraud rate in this program bears witness to the lack of integrity. Because USCIS cannot effectively identify fraud and take measures to counter this fraud, national security is compromised.

Yet absolutely nothing has been done to address this vulnerability that was identified by the 9/11 Commission in its report issued more than a decade ago. In fact, the administration's policies have so overloaded the immigration system that hundreds of thousands of applications for immigration benefits, such as the “DREAMers” have been processed without face-to-face interviews.

Could you imagine if the TSA, which has drawn the attention and ire of the media, and the administration conducted business the way that USCIS does its critical job?

The lack of integrity to the adjudications process has been the subject of a series of congressional hearings, Inspector General (OIG) investigations and reports, yet things have only gotten worse since.

On March 19, 2002 I was one of four witnesses called to testify at a hearing that was conducted by the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. The title of the hearing was: “INS’s March 2002 Notification of Approval of Change of Status for Pilot Training for Terrorist Hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi.”

This hearing was covered by C-SPAN. Every member of Congress should be required to watch that C-SPAN video. Virtually none of the promises made at that hearing to remedy the failures of the immigration system that were behind that glaring example of incompetence have been effectively addressed to this very day. Indeed, our nation has moved in precisely the opposite direction.

On November 20, 2013 ABC News reported, “Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees.” This is not a new problem. On July 13, 2011 the Washington Times published a truly disturbing article, “Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed / Aim is to find any would-be terrorists.”

Consider that on September 2, 2014 ABC News reported, “Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to ‘Track Missing Foreign Students.'”

On May 2, 2013, I was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News to discuss the immigration component of the terror bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 by the Tsarnaev brothers. Fox News posted a video of the discussion under the title, “Immigration Expert: The System Failed in Boston and Keeps on Failing.”

The New York Times published an article on May 20, 2015, “In Osama bin Laden Library: Illuminati and Bob Woodward” that reported on what American commandos discovered when they raided bin Laden’s compound on May 2, 2011. Here is a significant paragraph:
He also appeared to have maintained a keen interest in what the United States government thought of Al Qaeda. A copy of “The 9/11 Commission Report” was found in the compound in Abbottabad, as were three reports on Al Qaeda by the Congressional Research Service. There was also an application for American citizenship (no word on whether it was filled out).
I addressed this issue in two of my recent commentaries.

On May 19, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “Terrorists Value U.S. Citizenship More Than Our Politicians Do.”

On May 22, 2015 Californians for Population Stabilization published my article,Bin Laden, The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration.”

It must be believed that bin Laden read the 9/11 Commission Report. The obvious question is whether our political “leaders” from either party have read that report and the companion report issued by the 9/11 Commission Staff.

One member of Congress who has definitely read those reports, and is admanant about the contents of them, is Congressman Lou Barletta from Pennsylvania. I consider Lou Barletta to be a good friend. When he was the mayor of the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, prior to running for Congress, he was horrified to find that a Dominican drug gang had set up shop in his town. Suddenly he had to confront murder and a variety of other crimes attributed to illegal alien gang members.

He traveled to Washington to seek help from the Bush administration and was told, in essence, that he was on his own. He returned to Hazleton and, faced with no alternative, he installed the first local ordinances ever enacted on the local level against the hiring of illegal aliens. He was promptly sued. I was his final witness at the federal trial that followed.

On September 3, 2013 I joined Congressman Lou Barletta on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to participate in a town hall meeting on the topic of “Immigration Policy and Homeland Security.” Marc Bernier, a radio show host on Dayton Beach, Florida radio station WNDB, and an assistant to the president of Embry-Riddle University, moderated the discussion.

The video of that event is available online as a C-SPAN video.

Lou and I have worked closely on immigration issues ever since. He quoted me when he participated in a congressional Homeland Security hearing into first responders and then went on to read relevant excerpts from the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel and asked if they agreed that it would make sense to prevent the next terror attack by following the advice contained in those reports rather than have to deal with an attack because we failed to take that advice seriously.

At a hearing on December 2, 2014 Lou questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about amnesty and the 9/11 Commission report at a hearing. A video of that exchange is well-worth watching. During their exchange Barletta became frustrated with Johnson’s responses and said, in part, “When it comes to illegal immigration, the conversation is always about the illegal immigrant and not about the people it would effect…and it’s not fair.”

On January 12, 2015 Lou discussed the fact that there would be no face-to-face interviews for applicants for amnesty at a hearing on the funding of Homeland Security.

Nevertheless, thus far not a single presidential candidate has acknowledged the fact that America’s borders and immigration laws are our first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals. Not one of these politicians has connected the need to effectively enforce our immigration laws to protect the jobs of American workers. Leaders of both political parties, the “Repugnantcans” and “Demoncrats” as I have come to refer to them, talk about the need for defeating ISIS and addressing national security and protect America and Americans from terrorists. They all talk about creating jobs and getting the stagnant economy going. Yet no one has been willing to “connect the dots” between immigration and these threats to national security, public safety or the well-being of American workers and their families.

It is long overdue that our leaders, irrespective of political party, would be as determined to keep terrorists and criminals and narcotics out of the United States as they are to keep weapons and terrorists off of airliners. When an unauthorized person opens a wrong door at an airport the airport goes into lockdown. However, according to our “leaders,” aliens who run our borders have “earned” citizenship.

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is http://michaelcutler.net/.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/michael-cutler/a-contrast-in-delusions-the-tsa-vs-domestic-immigration-enforcement/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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