Friday, December 10, 2004

Bangladeshi’s arrest prompts concern over border security

Ties: Man caught with member of gang with alleged terrorist links

By SERGIO CHAPA
The Brownsville Herald

December 10, 2004 — Last week’s arrest of a Bangladeshi immigrant trying to illegally enter the country has federal authorities concerned over the vulnerability of the U.S.-Mexico border to infiltration by terrorists.

Federal court records show Fakhrul Islam, age unknown, was arrested Dec. 4 with 13 other undocumented immigrants as they tried to pass through a wooded area east of Brownsville.

The records said a man later identified by Border Patrol agents as a member of the Mara Salvatruchas gang was traveling in the same group as Islam.

The Central American gang has alleged links to al-Qaida.

“This is alarming,” said U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Texas.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Ortiz said the Central American gang members and terrorists are suspected of trying to blend in with Mexican or other immigrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We knew this was happening underground, but now it’s come to the surface,” he said.

Although Bangladesh is not listed as a nation that supports terrorism, Ortiz said the predominantly Muslim southern Asian nation is a “country of concern” for U.S. intelligence officials.

“It is a very poor country where many people earn as little as 65 cents a day,” Ortiz said. “The question I’m asking (officials) is, ‘How was he able to finance his way here?’”

Border Patrol officials did not return calls for comment Thursday, but a criminal complaint filed by an agent in federal court Tuesday said Islam admitted to wading across the Rio Grande.

He was charged with illegal entry into the country.

Court records show U.S. Magistrate Judge John William Black on Tuesday dismissed the illegal entry charge against Islam pending an FBI investigation.

Rosalie Savage with the FBI’s McAllen office said her agency does not disclose any information obtained through such interviews.

Although she could neither confirm nor deny an interview with Islam, she said FBI agents routinely interview certain people who have entered the country illegally from Mexico.

“Our agents try to learn who smuggled them, how much they paid, what route they took and if they know anybody on the FBI’s Most Wanted List,” she said.

Savage said agents do not treat immigration detainees any differently because of their nationality.

“We ask them all the same questions,” she said.

Islam was not charged with any other offenses and will remain in federal custody until he is deported and returned to Bangladesh, said Nancy Herrera, spokeswoman with the Houston office of the U.S. attorney’s Southern District of Texas.

Officials with the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.

Ortiz said the U.S. intelligence bill that Congress passed this week would authorize the Border Patrol to double the number of agents over the next five years. President Bush still must sign the bill.

“The Border Patrol does a good job with (what) they have,” Ortiz said. “We need to give them the tools and the manpower they need.”

Valley Movement for Human Rights director Nathan Selzer criticized the link between Mara Salvatruchas and al-Qaida and said it has not been verified by a credible intelligence agency.

“This is fear mongering,” Selzer said. “What they’ve ignored is the need for the reform of immigration policy to make it to where a Bangladeshi or others wouldn’t have to cross with criminals or others.”

schapa@brownsvilleherald.com



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Portion of CIA's Report on WMD Threat Probablity

The threat of terrorists using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) materials remained high. Many of the 33 designated foreign terrorist organizations and other nonstate actors worldwide have expressed interest in using CBRN; however, most attacks probably will be small-scale, incorporating improvised delivery means and easily produced or obtained chemicals, toxins, or radiological substances. Although terrorist groups probably will continue to favor long-proven conventional tactics, such as bombings and shootings, the arrest of ricin plotters in London in January 2003 indicated that international mujahidin terrorists were actively plotting to conduct chemical and biological attacks.

Increased publicity surrounding the anthrax incidents since the September 11 attacks has highlighted the vulnerability of civilian and government targets to CBRN attacks.

One of our highest concerns is al-Qa'ida's stated readiness to attempt unconventional attacks against us. As early as 1998, Usama Bin Ladin publicly declared that acquiring unconventional weapons was "a religious duty." In 2003, an extremist cleric who supports al-Qa'ida issued a fatwa that purports to provide a religious justification for the use of WMD against the United States.

Al-Qa'ida and associated extremist groups have a wide variety of potential agents and delivery means to choose from for CBRN attacks. The success of any al-Qa'ida attacks and the number of ensuing casualties would depend on many factors, including the technical expertise of those involved, but most scenarios could cause panic and disruption.

Several groups of mujahidin associated with al-Qa'ida have planned "poison plot" attacks in Europe with easily produced chemicals and toxins best suited to assassination and small-scale scenarios. These agents could cause hundreds of casualties and widespread panic if used in multiple simultaneous attacks.
Analysis of an al-Qa'ida document recovered in Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 indicates the group has crude procedures for making mustard agent, sarin, and VX.
Both 11 September attack leader Mohammad Atta and Zacharias Moussaoui-arrested by the FBI before the 11 September attacks-expressed interest in crop dusters, raising our concern that al-Qa'ida has considered using aircraft to disseminate BW agents.
Al-Qa'ida is interested in radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) or "dirty bombs." Construction of an RDD is well within its capabilities as radiological materials are relatively easy to acquire from industrial or medical sources.
Documents and equipment recovered from al-Qa'ida facilities in Afghanistan show that al-Qa'ida had conducted research on biological agents. We believe al-Qa'ida's BW program is primarily focused on anthrax for mass casualty attacks, although the group most likely will pursue opportunities to produce and use other biological agents in smaller-scale attacks.

Information from 2003 details the construction of a terrorist cyanide-based chemical weapon that can be made with easily available items, requiring little or no training to assemble and deploy. The plans are widely available to any terrorist. Such a device could produce a lethal concentration of poisonous gases in an enclosed area.

Usama Bin Ladin and other al-Qa'ida leaders have stated that al-Qa'ida has a religious duty to acquire nuclear weapons. Documents recovered in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom show that al-Qa'ida was engaged in rudimentary nuclear research, although the extent of its indigenous program is unclear. Outside experts, such as Pakistani nuclear engineer Bashir al-Din Mahmood may have provided some assistance to al-Qa'ida's program. Bashir, who reportedly met with Bin Ladin, discussed information concerning nuclear weapons. Al-Qa'ida has been seeking nuclear material since the early 1990s, according to the testimony of a government witness-Jamal Ahmad Fadl-during the 2001 trail on the al-Qa'ida bombings of the American Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Fadl claimed that al-Qa'ida pursued the sale of what they believed was enriched uranium in Sudan in the early 1990s. This effort may have been a "scam" operation, and there is no credible evidence al-Qa'ida actually acquired the uranium. Al-Qa'ida has been the victim of other nuclear "scams" in the past, but it probably has become sensitized to such operations in recent years, in part due to media coverage of nuclear smuggling and scam operations.

In addition, we are alert to the very real possibility that al-Qa'ida or other terrorist groups might also try to launch conventional attacks against the chemical or nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States to cause panic and economic disruption. In a video aired by Al-Jazirah in September 2002, senior al-Qa'ida members said they had contemplated striking nuclear power plants early in their decision making on targets but dropped the idea for fear it would "get out of control."



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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Illegal Immigrant Invasion Continues

Immigrant Population at
Record High in 2004
Total Up Four Million Since 2000
Half of Growth from Illegal Aliens

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WASHINGTON (November 23, 2004) — An analysis of data not yet published by the Census Bureau shows that the nation’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a new record of more than 34 million in March of 2004, an increase of over 4 million just since 2000. The fact that immigration has remained so high indicates that immigration does not rise and fall in close step with the economy, as some have imagined. The report, entitled Economy Slowed, But Immigration Didn’t: The Foreign-born Population 2000-2004, is available online at the Center’s Web site: www.cis.org.

Among the findings:

The 34.24 million immigrants (legal and illegal) now living in the country is the highest number ever recorded in American history and a 4.3-million increase since 2000.


Of the 4.3 million growth, almost half, or 2 million, is estimated to be from illegal immigration.


In the data collected by the Census Bureau, there were roughly 9 million illegal aliens. Prior research indicates that 10 percent of illegal aliens are missed by the survey, suggesting a total illegal population of about 10 million in March of this year.


The same data also show that in the years between 2000 and 2004, nearly 6.1 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) arrived from abroad. Arrivals are offset by deaths and return migration among immigrants already here, so the total increased by 4.3 million.


The 6.1 million new immigrants who arrived in the four years since 2000 compares to 5.5 million new arrivals in the four years prior to 2000, during the economic expansion.


The pace of immigration is so surprising because unemployment among immigrants increased from 4.4 to 6.1 percent, and the number of unemployed immigrants grew by 43 percent.


States with the largest increase in their immigrant population were Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

“The idea that immigration is a self regulating process that rises and falls in close step with the economy is simply wrong,” said Steven Camarota, the report’s author and the Center’s Director of Research. “Today, the primary sending countries are so much poorer than the United States, even being unemployed in America is still sometimes better than staying in one’s home country.”

Other findings in the report:

Unlike current immigration, evidence from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries indicates that economic downturns in the United States did have a very significant impact on immigration levels.


As a share of the nation’s total population, immigrants now account for nearly 12 percent, the highest percentage in over 80 years.


Recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nation’s age structure. If the 6.1 million immigrants who arrived after 2000 had not come, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36 years.


The diversity of the immigrant population continues to decline, with the top country, Mexico, accounting for 31 percent of all immigrants in 2004, up from 28 percent in 2000, 22 percent in 1990, and 16 percent in 1980.

No Major Change in Policy After 9/11. It is important to realize that there has been no major change in the selection criteria used or numerical limits placed on legal immigration, even after September 11th. Moreover, immigration enforcement efforts have actually become more lax in recent years. While visa applicants from some parts of the world may have to wait a little longer for approval and a tiny number of illegal aliens from selected countries may have been detained, this does not constitute a major change in policy and has no meaningful impact on the number of people settling in the United States.

Disconnect from Economy. The primary sending countries today are much poorer relative to the United States than were the primary sending countries in the past. The much higher standard of living in the United States exists even during recessions. Moreover, people come to America for many reasons, including to join family, to avoid social or legal obligations, to take advantage of America’s social services, and to enjoy greater personal and political freedom. Thus even a prolonged economic downturn is unlikely to have a large impact on immigration levels. If we want lower immigration levels it would require enforcement of immigration laws and changes to the legal immigration system.

Data Source. The information for the report comes from the March Current Population Surveys (CPS) collected by the Census Bureau, also called the Annual Social and Economic Supplement. The March data include an extra-large sample of minorities and is considered one of the best sources of information on immigrants, referred to as the foreign- born by the Census Bureau. The foreign-born are defined as persons living here who were not U.S. citizens at birth. Because all children born in the United States to foreign born are by definition natives, the sole reason for the dramatic increase in the foreign-born population is new immigration.

For more information, contact Dr. Camarota at (202) 466-8185 or sac@cis.org

# # #

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute
which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.




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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

GlobalJihadWatch

By Avi Jorisch, Jonathan L. Snow

The Big Picture

Two disturbing reports this week indicate that terrorists are pushing forward on chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons. First, the CIA reported Tuesday (11/23) that the danger of al-Qaeda producing and deploying a radioactive dirty bomb “remained high.” Meanwhile, troops in Fallujah uncovered a bomb factory with literature and materials indicating that terrorists there were working to produce chemical and biological weapons for future attacks.


Hezbollah led the news this week in two European countries.


France: A week and a half after approving Hezbollah's al-Manar station to broadcast its propaganda, French regulators have seen enough evidence of misconduct to reconsider their decision.

The Netherlands: On Monday, the Netherlands placed Hezbollah on its terrorism list. In an effort to limit its financing, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot also called for the European Union to follow suit. The EU has been reluctant to do so even though Hezbollah has active cells throughout Europe and has killed hundreds of Europeans and Americans.

Regional Briefs

North America, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Europe, Asia, Australia

North America
CIA Warns 'Dirty Bomb' Within al-Qaeda's Capabilities (Agence France-Presse) - The al-Qaeda terror network is fully capable of building a radioactive “dirty bomb” targeting the United States and other Western nations and “has crude procedures” for producing chemical weapons, the CIA warned Tuesday (11/23). The agency used its strongest terms to alert lawmakers to the threat of terrorist organizations using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials to harm the United States and its allies, saying the danger of such an attack “remained high.”
Supreme Court Asked to Rule on Detainees (Washington Post) - Attorneys for a Guantanamo detainee asked the Supreme Court for immediate intervention to decide the legality of “military commissions” set up by the Pentagon to prosecute alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Lawyers representing a Yemeni accused of serving as Bin Laden's bodyguard argued that they should be allowed to skip appeals in his case and have the Supreme Court make a decision soon.

U.S. General Calls for Bolder Action to Stop 'Muslim Extremism' (Agence France-Presse) - General John Abizaid called on Friday (11/26) for bolder international action to stop the “spread of Muslim extremism,” suggesting curbs were needed to prevent the Internet and other media from being used by groups like al-Qaeda. “Why is it that people have the right to get on the Internet and spread this hatred and insanity without there being some curb, some law?” He continued, “To me if we think this is some kind of freedom of speech to put on a picture of someone getting their head chopped off on the Internet and people have the right to purvey that, that's not the world I want to live in, and it just encourages this kind of behavior,” he said.

Middle East
Bin Laden Aide Vows to Continue U.S. Fight (CNN) - In a videotape that aired Monday (11/29), Osama bin Laden's right-hand man pledged to continue fighting the United States until it changes its policies regarding Muslims. Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a tape broadcast by the Arabic-language al-Jazeera television network, said there are two ways to deal with Muslims -- “either with respect, or as if our lives and property are available for you to invade.” In the tape, which appeared to have been made before the November 2 U.S. election, al-Zawahiri said the contest between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry did not interest al-Qaeda. “You can elect Bush, Kerry or Satan himself, it doesn't matter to us,” he said.



Iraqi Bomb Labs Signal Attacks in the Works (Washington Times) - Chemicals and bomb-making literature found at two houses in Fallujah, Iraq, last week show Iraqi rebels are prepared to use chemical and biological weapons in future attacks, a U.S. military spokesman said Monday (11/29). Rebels had materials for making chemical blood agents and also a “cookbook” on how to produce a deadly form of anthrax. There were, however, no signs that the terrorists actually used chemical or biological weapons in homemade bombs.



Zarqawi Group Claims Mosul Deaths (Agence France-Presse) - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for killing 17 national guardsmen in Mosul. A statement posted on an Islamist website, whose authenticity could not be verified, has detailed a string of attacks in recent days. The statement said the “lions of the Ibn Khattab Brigade” had launched a rocket attack Thursday (11/25) on a US army patrol backed by members of the Iraqi National Guard.



Saudi Arabia Identifies Terrorist Killed in Jeddah (Reuters) - A Saudi terrorist who had helped plan a deadly al-Qaeda linked attack on the Riyadh Muhaya housing compound last November, was killed Saturday (11/27). Issam Qassem Mubaraki, had provided militants with explosives and forged documents and killed in Jeddah following clashes with state authorities. He was not on Saudi's most wanted Islamic militant list.



113 al-Qaeda Convicts Freed After Recanting Views (Chicago Tribune) - Yemeni authorities have released 113 al-Qaeda members, including at least five once accused of involvement in the deadly bombing of the USS Cole, after they recanted their extremist views, security officials said Thursday (11/25). The militants once accused in the USS Cole bombing were later cleared. The 15 Yemeni terrorists convicted in August of involvement in the 2000 bombing, which killed 17 U.S. sailors, were not released. The 113 men were released during the past two weeks after signing pledges not to carry out terrorist acts or criminal activities.


Afghanistan and Pakistan
Al-Qaeda Aim: Renew Afghan Fight (USA Today) - Al-Qaeda has sent out a call for recruits to come to Afghanistan to reverse that country's momentum toward democracy and stem an increasing number of military victories by the U.S.-led coalition, a top U.S. military commander said. Maj. Gen. Rick Olson, second in command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, also said that senior leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, are still operating in northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan and are giving direction to Taliban and foreign fighters.



Troops Hunting al-Qaeda Members Withdrawn (Associated Press) - The Pakistani army announced Saturday (11/27) that it would withdraw hundreds of troops from a Waziristan, a tense tribal region near Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden and his top deputy are believed to be hiding. The army will remove checkpoints in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain said after meeting with tribal elders Friday. Hussain said the moves were “in return for the support of tribesmen in operations against foreign miscreants.”



Raids Net 5 al-Qaeda Suspects (CNN) - Pakistani security officials have staged two raids in separate locations in Lahore, killing one suspected al-Qaeda terrorist and arresting five others. All of the suspected terrorists were Afghan citizens, the officials said Thursday (11/25).


Europe
French Regulators Now Want al-Manar TV Off Air (Agence France-Presse) - French broadcast regulators announced Tuesday (11/30) they were seeking to pull a television station linked to Hezbollah off the satellite beaming its programs within the European Union because of license violations. The High Audiovisual Council (CSA) said it would ask France's superior administrative court to order the Eutelsat satellite company “to cease transmitting the station.” The decision, which aims to cancel the license the CSA gave to the al-Manar station less than two weeks ago, came after several “serious defaults regarding its contractual agreements.”



FBI Finds Link Between 9/11, Madrid Bombs (Reuters) - The FBI has established the clearest link yet between the March 11 Madrid train bombings and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, a Spanish newspaper reported Sunday (11/28). The FBI has told Spanish investigators that one of three men believed to have planned the Sept. 11 attacks from Spain in the summer of 2001 also gave the order to carry out the Madrid blasts.



Aznar Maintains ETA Link to Madrid Attack (United Press International) -- Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called for a full investigation into links between Basque separatists and Islamist terror cells Monday (11/29). Aznar told a parliamentary commission investigating the March Madrid train bombings there was evidence the Basque separatist group ETA may have been involved with the Islamic terrorists said to have carried out the bombings.



German Court Halts Handing al-Qaeda Suspect to Spain (Reuters) - A top German court on Wednesday (11/24) halted the extradition to Spain of an Arab businessman accused of providing financial and logistical support to al-Qaeda, including purchasing a ship for Osama bin Laden. The Federal Constitutional Court stalled the transfer of Syrian-German Mamoun Darkazanli, 46, for up to six months as it reviews a complaint lodged by his lawyers that his extradition is unconstitutional. A court in Hamburg earlier approved his extradition to Spain where he is accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, a charge that carries a 20-year jail term.


Asia
Indonesian Police Announce Terror Arrests (Associated Press) - Four Islamic militants wanted for the Sept. 9 suicide bombing at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta have been arrested, including the alleged planner and two bomb-makers. The suspects were wearing explosives around their waists when they were captured on Nov. 5, but officers managed to overpower them before they could set off the devices. The arrests are the first major breakthrough in the investigation to the attack, which killed 10 people, including at least one suicide bomber.



Abu Sayyaf Leader Dies in Shootout (Associated Press) - Government troops killed a leader of Abu Sayyaf in a shootout in the southern Philippines. Munap Manialah, also known as Commander Munap, was shot dead Saturday (11/27) in a firefight with Philippine army and navy troops in southern Basilan island's Isabela city. Washington has classified Abu Sayyaf -- notorious for kidnappings and beheadings -- a terrorist group, and $5 million for information leading to the capture of its top leaders, including Khaddafy Janjalani.


Australia
Court: Australian Suspect Was al-Qaeda 'Sleeper' (Reuters) - An Australian man was refused bail Wednesday (11/24) after a court determined that he trained at an Afghani al-Qaeda camp, met Osama bin Laden, and agreed to become a “sleeper” for the terror network. Joseph Terrence Thomas, 31, was arrested the previous week and charged with receiving funds from al-Qaeda, providing support to the group, and possessing a false passport.



This report was compiled by Jonathan L. Snow and edited by Avi Jorisch.

- Mr. Snow is the Manager of Research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

- Avi Jorisch is an FDD Senior Fellow.



GlobalJihadWatch is a weekly publication that tracks developments in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), specifically focusing on militant groups that adhere to the ideology known as radical Islam. Such groups constitute a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but their rhetoric and violence affords them disproportional influence in the Muslim world. Some of these groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda, while others are not. Indeed, such nomenclature is increasingly irrelevant, particularly as al-Qaeda evolves from a structured organization into an amorphous global movement. (This series will not cover the activities of militant Palestinian groups, which are covered at length in other publications.)


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Compromise Brings Intelligence Reform, But Not Homeland Security

(Washington, DC—December 7, 2004) A House-Senate conference committee has apparently concluded negotiations on the final language of a bill that will reform America's intelligence services, but which falls far short of the goal of taking common sense measures to protect the homeland security of the United States. In the end, Congress backed away from full implementation of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in the face of intense lobbying from a small, but vocal coalition of special interests that opposed the immigration reform recommendations made by the Commission.

"Like all Americans, we are pleased that there is a plan in place to reform our intelligence system that failed to see many of the warning signs of an impending attack, and failed to act on information that was gathered," commented Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "But, unfortunately, the final version of the 9/11 reform bill deliberately failed to close the holes in our immigration laws and enforcement policies that were specifically cited by the Commission as posing an ongoing threat to the security of our nation. In the end, special interest politics trumped homeland security."

Among the important homeland security measures called for in the Commission's report, but stripped from the final version of the legislation, were provisions related to document reform, including barring terrorists and illegal aliens from obtaining driver's licenses, barring the acceptance of foreign consular IDs, limits to judicial review of orders of deportation, and denial of asylum claims for individuals suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. "On these matters," said Stein, "the Senate provisions included in this ill-advised bill make things even worse than they are today by actually inviting states to issue driver's licenses to terrorists and illegal aliens presenting nothing more than unverifiable consular identification cards or other bogus documents to prove their identities.

"Considering that the 19 terrorists who attacked America on September 11, 2001 had 63 driver's licenses among them, and used those licenses to board the jetliners they turned into weapons of mass destruction, the removal of the driver's license security provisions is especially irresponsible," said Stein. "There is overwhelming public support for all of the immigration reforms that were approved by the House, but gutted by the conference committee.

"We, like most Americans, expect that when Congress gets back next month that both chambers will pass free-standing legislation that addresses the immigration-related homeland security issues that the 9/11 Commission identified," Stein continued. "We can only hope and pray that the loopholes in our homeland security policies that were deliberately sacrificed in order to enact intelligence reform this year, do not result in tragic consequences."

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FAIR Looks at Homeland Insecurity Bill--Illegal Immigration Invasion Continues

Here's a run-down of highlights on what the Senate stripped out, and what was included in the final conference agreement.


Ban on Driver's Licenses for Illegal Aliens Dropped, Replaced with Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy: While federal law currently is silent on the question of whether issuance of driver's licenses to illegal aliens is aiding and abetting illegal immigration, the final conference report stipulates that the federal government "may not infringe on a state's power to set criteria concerning what categories of individuals are eligible to obtain a driver's license or personal identification card from the state." In essence, this language says to the states that they can give driver's licenses and ID cards to whomever they want, including illegal aliens and the terrorists among them, and it's none of the federal government's business.
Even more outrageous, the final conference report effectively requires states who do not issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens to accept driver's licenses and ID cards from states that do.


Ban on Matricula Consular Identification Cards Dropped: The conference agreement did not include a House-passed provision that would have barred acceptance of non-verifiable matricula consular ID cards for any federal purpose. These cards are only needed by illegal aliens. All legal residents and foreign visitors can use foreign passports or U.S.-issued documents to establish identity.

Expansion of Expedited Removal Dropped: Senate conferees stripped a House-passed provision that would have expanded expedited removal of criminals and illegal aliens to include those apprehended in the interior and those encountered along the U.S. border between U.S. ports of entry. It also would have expanded the period of time during which an alien in the U.S. is subject to the procedure from two to five years.

New Evidentiary Standards for Asylum Dropped and Replaced with More Studies:
Senate conferees stripped out a House-passed provision that would have established a new evidentiary standard that applicants would have to meet in order to prove their claims for asylum and placed the burden of proof on the alien to demonstrate eligibility for asylum. This provision was designed to address a loophole in our asylum process that currently can be exploited by terrorists to gain easy access to the country under fraudulent asylum claims. The House provision was stripped out and replaced with a study "to evaluate the extent to which weaknesses in the United States asylum system and withholding of removal system have been or could be exploited by aliens connected to, charged in connection with, or tied to terrorist activity." Rather than take a proactive step to close these dangerous loopholes, Senate conferees prefer to take the "wait and see" approach, which continues to leave us vulnerable.

Restrictions on Judiciary Review Dropped: Senate conferees stripped out a House-passed provision that would have eliminated extraneous judicial review of removal decisions, a dilatory tactic often used to delay justified deportation at the expense of taxpayers and safety.

Expansion of Terrorist-Related Grounds of Inadmissibility Dropped: The conference agreement strikes a House-passed section that would have expanded the terrorist-related grounds of inadmissibility.

Increases in Border Patrol Agents, ICE Investigators, and Detention Bed Space "Subject to Appropriations": The conference report does at least include provisions to increase border patrol agents, ICE investigators, and detention bed space, but these increases are "subject to appropriations" which means that there is no guarantee that money will be made available to implement them.

Expedites Implementation of Entry/Exit System: The conference report includes a House provision to expedite the full implementation of the biometric entry/exit system designed to screen visitors, also known as U.S.-VISIT.

For more on FAIR's perspective, check out today's press release: "Compromise Brings Intelligence Reform, But Not Homeland Security."

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

NYT: Kerik's Task Seen As Daunting

Big Changes Seen in Choice for Homeland Security
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and RICHARD W. STEVENSON

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 - Administration and Congressional officials said Friday that President Bush's selection of Bernard B. Kerik as the new secretary of homeland security signaled potentially sweeping changes at a sprawling department still struggling to find its place as the country's first line of defense against terrorism.

Mr. Bush, in formally announcing Mr. Kerik's selection at a White House ceremony, described him as "a dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results."

A Washington outsider, Mr. Kerik brings to the job a reputation from his days as New York police commissioner as a tough-talking, sometimes brash manager unafraid to trample on convention and ruffle feathers in shaking up an organization.

As a result, his selection to replace Tom Ridge brought a mixture of enthusiasm and some trepidation from officials at the Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere in the federal government.

Few expect Mr. Kerik's arrival at homeland security to produce the kind of upheaval seen in recent weeks at the C.I.A., where Porter J. Goss's two months as director have led to internal dissension and resignations. But Mr. Kerik's selection caused no shortage of nervousness at the Department of Homeland Security, a department created last year out of 22 separate agencies in what amounted to the biggest government reorganization in a half-century.

"People here are waiting to find out who this guy is and what changes he'll bring," said a senior department official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He's really an unknown factor here in Washington."

Another senior official said that compared with Mr. Ridge, known for a staid, deliberate demeanor, "there's obviously going to be a different management style - different backgrounds, different approaches - and the jury's out on what it will all mean."

Mr. Kerik has proved himself a Republican loyalist and he earned the secretary's job in part through the staunch support of his old boss, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, now his partner in a consulting firm. The White House gave Mr. Kerik a speaking role at last summer's Republican convention, and he angered Democrats by saying in one interview before the election that he feared another terrorist attack and that "if you put Senator Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen."

In announcing the nomination, Mr. Bush presented Mr. Kerik as almost the embodiment of the country's response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Bernie Kerik arrived at the World Trade Center minutes after the first plane hit," Mr. Bush said. "He was there when the twin towers collapsed. He knew the faces of the rescuers who rushed toward danger. He attended the funeral of the officers who didn't come back. Bernie Kerik understands the duties that came to America on September the 11th."

Mr. Kerik, whose wife, Hala, and four children attended the ceremony, said he would "devote every power" to keeping Americans safe from attack. "On Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed firsthand the very worst of humanity, and its very best," Mr. Kerik said. He pledged to Mr. Bush, "both the memory of those courageous souls and the horrors I saw inflicted upon our proud nation will serve as permanent reminders of the awesome responsibility you place in my charge."

Mr. Kerik is expected to win relatively easy confirmation in the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority, although he may face questions from Democrats about possible conflicts involving the Giuliani firm's security contracts, Congressional officials said.

Representative Christopher Cox, a California Republican who leads the House Homeland Security Committee and spoke with Mr. Kerik on Friday, said one of his biggest challenges will be to strengthen the department's ability to gather intelligence on terrorists and deliver quick analysis to federal and local officials.

The department was designed as "the fusion center" for intelligence operations, Mr. Cox said in an interview, but its intelligence operation has been undercut at times by tensions with other intelligence-gathering agencies.

With the expansion of intelligence operations outside the department, "the question arises of what is the real role of the Department of Homeland Security, and will the department's concerns be shortchanged?" Mr. Cox said. Unless Mr. Kerik can resolve those questions, he said, "he will be cast adrift."

Asa Hutchinson, an under secretary of homeland security who was himself a leading candidate for the job, said that he assured aides Friday that Mr. Kerik was a strong supporter of the department.

"I've seen him defend the strategies of the department, and I think that's reassuring to the people that work here," said Mr. Hutchinson. Associates of Mr. Hutchinson said they expected him to leave the agency and run for governor of Arkansas.

The departure of Mr. Hutchinson, who oversees 110,000 employees working on border and transportation security issues, would leave a large void for Mr. Kerik to fill. But Mr. Hutchinson said, "I'm not leaving any time soon and don't want to leave any gaps." Some officials questioned whether Mr. Kerik, with relatively brief stints as New York police commissioner and in leading the creation of a police force in Iraq, had the breadth of experience needed.

But his supporters say his hard-charging management style should make up for any concerns about his experience.

"He's a fighter," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who spoke with Mr. Kerik on Thursday night.

"The last thing you need in that job is a bureaucrat," Mr. Schumer said. "You need someone who's going to go into the bureaucracy and shake it up and go to the administration and make sure homeland security gets the resources it needs. Tom Ridge is a very fine gentleman, and may have been the more obvious type of choice, but Bernie Kerik may have a better chance of succeeding at what is admittedly a very difficult job."

Other officials said they were encouraged that Mr. Bush had chosen a longtime police officer to lead a department where investigative functions have sometimes received short shrift.

"Ridge is a nice guy, but there are so many layers of management here that investigations weren't really a high priority for him," said an official at the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which investigates border crimes, international money laundering and a range of other security issues. "Kerik is a cop's cop, and we need that here."


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