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US PASSPORT OFFICE IS DANGEROUSLY INCOMPETENT

 

By Michael Cutler
March 17, 2009
NewsWithViews.com

I am writing about two news articles that recently appeared. The first appeared in the Washington Times this past Saturday, March 14th and was attributed to Associated Press (AP). The second article appeared on line and was written by a journalist from CNN whose work I am quite familiar with. Mike Ahlers, the author of the CNN article is a truly credible journalist.

When you consider how many people have either read the AP news report or read the CNN news report, it should be presumed that millions of Americans have read this article along with many of our nation's alleged political leaders.

This story should be seen as nothing short of an alarm clanging loudly, warning us of yet another huge national security crisis that is not being addressed.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the all inclusive body of law that pertains to the entry and presence of aliens in the United States. The INA defines a passport as being:

“Any travel document issued by competent authority showing the bearer's origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country.”

To succinctly explain the importance of a passport, it is the document that is supposed to provide proof as to the identity of the bearer. The passport is supposed to answer the most basic and essential of questions: “Who are you?”

It is interesting to note that the definition states that the passport is supposed to be issued by “competent authority.” That term is used to make it clear that only an appropriate government official can issue a passport to make certain that the process has integrity. For the United States, it is the State Department that has the authority to issue U.S. Passports and carry out a number of other critically important functions that relate to foreign policy.

Clearly where the United States Passport Office is concerned, they should perhaps amend the definition of passport to reflect that all too often, passports are issued by incompetent authorities!

What is truly troubling about the news report is that around the world, the United States passport had been considered, the “gold standard!” It is also disturbing that the process is so flawed because our government (and others as well) have come to use passports for more than determining to admit aliens seeking entry into countries around the world. Passports in the United States are used to support applications for employment. A United States passport provides prima facie evidence that the bearer is a United States citizen.

A current U.S. passport opens virtually all of the doors in the United States to the bearer. A United States passport can be readily used to get a job, gain access to government buildings, gain access to airports and seaports. A passport can be used to obtain a driver's license and conduct business transactions.

A United States passport is the key to the kingdom! It is considered the sine qua non of identity documents.

Because United States passports are considered to be such a reliable proof of the identity of the bearer, it could provide criminals and terrorists with access to countries throughout the world if they are able to obtain such a passport in a false name. Clearly the news report provides evidence that this possibility is not beyond the realm of possibility! The incompetence demonstrated repeatedly by our nation's officials at the Passport Office not only threatens our nation's security and safety, but threatens the security of nations around the world!

Here are some of the questions I would love to have the answers to:

1 - How much training are those whose job is to adjudicate applications for passports given to help them ferret out altered or counterfeit documents used in support of passport applications- documents such as birth certificates, driver's licenses and others that are used to substantiate the identity of the applicant?

2 - How much time is each employee given to process an application for a United States passport?

3 - How are these employees evaluated? What is their job description? The point here is to know if they are simply rewarded for moving the applications as quickly as possible or are they rewarded for uncovering fraud? These factors determine what the employees' priorities are when they go to work each day.

4 - How much effort is made to insure the integrity of the employees is monitored?

Now, here is the most important question: Taking the findings of the GAO into account, starting tomorrow morning- what will change at the United States Department of State (the parent agency of the Passport Agency)?

When will the State Department get its act together?

Out of my concerns for your health, I would suggest that you do not hold your breath while we wait for “change we can believe in” where the unacceptable situation at the State Department is concerned!

Consider this quote from the Washington Times article:

“The State Department has known about this vulnerability for years.”

I noted that the Department of State has a number of other critical missions to perform that relate to foreign policy. One of those other responsibilities is to decide on whether or not to issue visas to aliens. These visas can be broken into two primary categories: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. As the terms imply, an immigrant visa is one that is issued to an alien who seeks to reside permanently in the United States as an immigrant. Before the lunacy of governmental “Newspeak” was foisted on our nation where immigration is concerned, such aliens were described as LAPRs (Aliens Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence). Today many people use the term “PERM” (short for permanent).


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Each and every year, more than one million aliens are granted LPR status and in so doing, are placed on the path to United States citizenship. This huge number of immigrants is greater than all of the other immigrants who are admitted by all of the other countries of the world combined!

The Department of State also adjudicates applications for political asylum when such application is made overseas. One of the embedding tactics of criminals and terrorists is to claim political asylum. A glaring example of this can be found in the case of a Pakistani national by the name of Mir Amir Kansi who applied for political asylum and apparently lied on a number of critical issues addressed by Kansi in his application. Notwithstanding those lies which constituted fraud, Kansi's application was approved. He demonstrated his appreciation for our nation by driving to the gates of the CIA in Virginia on a winter morning in January, 1993 with an AK-47. Then, as cars filled with CIA employees headed towards those gates of America's intelligence agency, Kansi calmly opened fire on those cars, killing two CIA officers and wounding three others.

He managed to flee the scene of the shooting and leave the United States. A worldwide search resulted in his capture and arrest. He was returned to the United States where he stood trial and was found guilty of murder. He was executed for the murders of those CIA officers but his execution did not bring those people he killed back to life. His execution did not undo the harm done to the others whom he shot.

In fairness, the adjudication of Kansi's application was carried out by the former INS, another agency with a terrible track record and the one I most often write about. However, what should be remembered was that the terrorists who have attacked our nation have all managed, in one way or another, to manipulate the visa process and the immigration benefits program. Those processes are under the jurisdiction of the State Department and the components of DHS that had previously been under the INS.

Here is something else to consider: With all of the talk about how the politicians in Washington want to implement Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), here is yet another glaring example of why such legislation would do nothing except pose a huge threat to national security!

The incompetence, ineptitude and corruption that has come to pass for “Business as usual” within the bureaucracy of our government makes it abundantly clear that our federal agencies lack the ability to carry out their most fundamental and rudimentary duties. So, while I oppose any sort of mass amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens currently residing in our country, lets go back to reason one why this lunacy must not be foisted on us or our nation by the “Fools on the Hill” (Congress)- Our government lacks the ability to even know who they are dealing with!

Each day that passes without meaningful changes to the system to restore integrity to these processes represent yet another day that terrorists and criminals may gain entry into our country and embed themselves in communities around the country.

Each day that passes without meaningful change threatens the security of the United States and the security of other nations because of the ineptitude and failings of our officials.

We the People need to take every opportunity to confront those who were elected to represent us and make it clear that if they fail to represent us, we will find someone who will!

The Congress is supposed to represent the will of the American people. Under our system of government, Congress has clearly defined oversight authority. When the system fails it is the Congress that is supposed to demand the necessary changes! That is the reason that the GAO (General Accountability Office) exists: to conduct investigations to enable Congress to know what is or is not being done.

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!

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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 get involved!

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!

2009 - Michael Cutler - All Rights Reserved

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Michael W. Cutler graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1971 with a B.A. in Communications Arts and Sciences. Mr. Cutler began working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in October 1971 when he entered on duty as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In August 1975 he became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) for the INS at NYC.

He rotated through virtually every squad in the Investigations Branch. From 1988 until 1991 he was assigned as the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York. In 1991 he was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which required that he work with members of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and local and state police as well as law enforcement organizations of other countries including Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan, to conduct investigations of aliens involved in major drug trafficking organizations. He retired from the INS in February 2002, after a career that spanned some 30 years.

Finally, Michael Cutler has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Lou Dobbs, Fox News, MSNBC and many other television and radio news-oriented programs to discuss the enforcement of immigration laws.

E-Mail: mcutler007@aol.com


 

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This story should be seen as nothing short of an alarm clanging loudly, warning us of yet another huge national security crisis that is not being addressed.