Not long after 9-11 I listened to Bernie Keirik speak at a meeting I was attending. He spoke of a “9-12 mentality” and warned against it- warned against forgetting the lessons of the past. His words leaped to the front of my mind as I read this:
A Department of Homeland Security program intended to give “trusted traveler” status to low-risk airline passengers soon will be extended to Saudi travelers, opening the program to criticism for accommodating the country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Sources voiced concern about the decision to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which issued a report Wednesday on the under-the-radar announcement — which was first made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after meeting in January with her Saudi counterpart. According to the IPT, this would be the first time the Saudi government has been given such a direct role in fast-tracking people for entry into the United States.
“I think you have radical Wahhabism in certain elements in Saudi Arabia, and I think to be more lenient there than in other places would be a mistake,” Rep. Frank Wolf told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “There were 15 [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that region.”
Only an exclusive handful of countries enjoy inclusion in the Global Entry program — Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands. According to the IPT, some officials are questioning why Saudi Arabia gets to reap the benefits of the program, when key U.S. allies like Germany and France are not enrolled; Israel has reached a deal with the U.S., but that partnership has not yet been implemented.
Saudi travelers. Hmm
Any Saudi travelers cleared through the program will be able to bypass the normal customs line after providing passports and fingerprints. The status lasts for five years.
The decision is a turnaround, the IPT notes, from when Saudi Arabia was briefly placed on a list of countries whose U.S.-bound travelers would face higher scrutiny, in the wake of the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt in 2009.
It seems that that has been swept under the rug, as have other experiences:
But Napolitano spoke highly of “the bond between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” when she announced the change in January.
“By enhancing collaboration with the government of Saudi Arabia, we reaffirm our commitment to more effectively secure our two countries against evolving threats while facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” Napolitano said.
15 Saudi travelers left this country with a memory none of us will ever forget.
A DHS that looks disparagingly at returning vets and the political right as threats to this country considers Saudi travelers largely without risk.
Odd, especially as Saudi has been identified as the primary source of funding for Al Qaeda:
Despite extensive efforts to limit the distribution of funds to extremists from the Middle East, the documents show deep frustration in Washington with the level of co-operation from governments in the region.
“It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” read a cable from Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, dated Dec 30, 2009.
“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” added the document.
The Saudis have recognised that they have trouble policing the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, when it is estimated that millions of dollars are raised for militants who send agents into the oil-rich kingdom under the cover of Muslim pilgrims.
The Saudi interior ministry co-operated when terrorist funding was brought to its attention, but remained “almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic support and direction for its counterterrorism operations”, said a cable from the US embassy in Riyadh. “As such, our success against terrorist financing in the kingdom remains directly tied to our ability to provide actionable intelligence to our Saudi counterparts.”
Vets and those of us on the right are terrorist threats. From the home base of Wahhabism come trusted travelers.
I can’t figure this administration.