Judicial Watch • State Dept. Hinders Visa Security Program

State Dept. Hinders Visa Security Program

State Dept. Hinders Visa Security Program

MAY 11, 2010

 

Under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, the State Department is reportedly impeding a crucial program designed to prevent terrorists from obtaining visas to enter the United States.

Legislation enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks established the Visa Security Program (VSP) at foreign U.S. consulates determined by the government to be at risk for providing visas to terrorists. Under the plan, officials from the Department of Homeland Security are assigned to the at-risk consulates to thoroughly vet the backgrounds of foreigners applying to enter the country.

The program is effective because Homeland Security officials use a more expansive range of databases than the State Department to conduct applicants’ background checks. Incredibly, only one-fourth of the high-risk U.S. Consulates have established a VSP, according to State Department officials quoted in a news report this week.

Although the VSP is operated by the Department of Homeland Security, it’s the State Department that ultimately approves and implements the program at consulates around the world. Homeland Security officials are responsible for assessing the security risks posed by visa applicants, but the State Department determines whether a VSP unit will be deployed at individual consulates, according to a recent Congressional report cited in the story.

The VSP became the focus of scrutiny after an Islamic extremist from Nigeria (Farouk Abdulmutallab) came close to blowing up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. Despite his terrorist ties, Abdulmutallab was issued a visa from the U.S. embassy in London and allowed to board the plane with a bomb strapped to his underwear.

Abdulmutallab’s father had warned U.S. Consulate officials in his native Nigeria that his son had become radicalized but no VSP was in place to further probe the information. Other extremely high risk consulates—such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria—don’t have Visa Security Programs either. It took Homeland Security officials a deplorable 12 months to start the process for implementing a VSP unit in Yemen alone.

 

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