“News reports are already indicating the screening of air travelers have been tightened. If that is necessary, so be it. But would it not be smarter to avoid letting would-be terrorists onto flights to the U.S. in the first place? What if Mr. Abdulmutallab wanted to commit a terrorist act within the U.S., rather than on the way here? No amount of airport screening would have stopped him, given that the State Department had permitted him access to the United States.[…]To most people, this is common sense. But to critics on the left, it is the unacceptable act of “profiling.” But the fact is, whether we choose to admit it or not, we are engaged in a global conflict against those who wish us mortal harm. We should empower government officials to apply reasonable skepticism, statistical data and common sense in screening those who wish to visit the U.S.”
First, Congress should launch an investigation into why Mr. Abdulmutallab was given a visa. It should also determine how many other risky applicants are visiting or preparing to visit the U.S. with visas issued under similarly lax screening criteria.Second, Congress should relieve the State Department of its role in issuing visas. This task should be given instead to the Department of Homeland Security, which is less eager to please foreign constituencies. Assigning DHS this role was contemplated at its creation in 2002, but not implemented in order to protect the State Department’s bureaucratic turf. But the department that issued visas to the September 11 terrorists, and still more since then, should no longer be allowed to perform this duty.Third, we need to demand that senior officials not take the easy and politically correct route of grandstanding against “profiling” while failing to keep America safe. Their job is to make sure security personnel have the guidelines and training to do their jobs effectively. We need to put common sense and judgment back into the equation—before more Americans pay for political correctness with their lives.
If somebody did not do his/her job on this, there should be consequences. But that’s another story. Right now with the investigations just unfolding, we don’t know what we don’t know. Calling for the shifting of visa functions from the State Department to DHS is the easiest option on the list of knee-jerk reactions. Visa screening went from somewhere near the Stone Age in the 80’s to 21st century technology after 9/11. To call it “lax” without really knowing what goes into the current adjudication process including various security requirements is just hoo-hah without substance.
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