BIG PROBLEMS AT THE I.N.S.
by Tom Mitsoff
American Reporter Correspondent
IRVINE, Calif. -- Three strikes and you're out, right?
If that's so, then the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service is standing in the batter's box with a beaten-up, badly-weathered bat ready to face the foreign enemies of our country -- who have read the scouting report and are ready to pitch to our weaknesses. Last week, the government agency charged with regulating immigration in this country notified a Florida flight school that visas were approved for two of its students -- more than a year and a half after the students were trained!
Steeeeerike one! The INS delivered the student visa approval notices for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi six months to the day after they had died -- an obvious indication that its ability to keep track foreign visitors here is lacking, to say the least.
Steeeeerike two! Oh, did we mention that Atta and Alshehhi died after hijacking two jets on Sept. 11, 2001 and crashing them into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, murdering some 3,000 people, destroying a large part of Manhattan's financial center, and costing this nation some $700 billion?
Yerrr out! How did the INS miss that one? It was in all the papers!
One would think that the names of 19 Arab immigrants who were responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would be posted boldly in every INS office as reminders of what went wrong. And even if they aren't posted, wouldn't it stand to reason that people at that agency would know those individuals and know they'd received flight training in Florida two years ago that enabled them to turn three airliners into flying bombs?
That's like a Bush administration official hiring Monica Lewinsky as a personal assistant. That person would have to be completely asleep at the switch; they'd be unfit for a government office.
Enter the INS.
This agency reviews applications for immigration into the United States by non-citizens. Once they've entered, the INS is supposed to stay abreast of their whereabouts and status. That's not to say an immigrant who wants to elude the INS can't do so. We've learned that one benefit of a free society is that people of all ethnicities are treated equally under the law. We don't detain people on the streets or even in airports only because they fit a certain profile.
But even a non-police state needs to protect its citizens. Obviously, the INS is not equipped to do that, and is so ineffective that the names of two menw ho murdered 3,000 Americans on our own soil didn't raise a red flag during the process of notifying their flight school that they'd been issued student visas.
President Bush's response? "We've got to reform the INS, and we have to push hard to do so." In anger, he called the blunder "inexcusable." If we could look inside the man, I bet he was scared, too. Six of the agency's top execs were promptly fired.
Remember those "sleeper cells" of terrorists supposedly still in this country, waiting for a signal from al-Qaida leadership? If they're here, they're probably not shaking in their boots as they wait for the INS to find them.
Law-abiding American citizens should be scared. Let's just hope Saddam Hussein doesn't apply for a visa.