the webmaster notes: we just need someone to protect us from these morons at the GAO
GAO: 105 on watch list got visas Terror suspects admitted by U.S.
By Curt Anderson
Nov. 27, 2002
WASHINGTON - Visas were issued to 105 foreign men who should have been prevented from entering the United States because their names appeared on government lists of suspected terrorists, congressional investigators have found.
The visas have been revoked by the State Department. A federal law enforcement official, speaking Tuesday on condition of anonymity, said the revocation prevented 100 of the men from entering the United States, while three others were turned away at the U.S. border. Two made it into the country but have since left, the official said.
Officially, the Justice Department said it was reviewing the matter "to verify the status of each of the visas in question."
Under a security system first created in November 2001 called "Visas Condor," State Department applications for visas to enter the United States from certain national groups were to be checked against possible terrorist names in FBI and CIA databases. Men in these groups ages 16 and 45 had to wait up to 30 days for the check before a visa could be issued.
However, the General Accounting Office found, until recently the name-check system did not work properly as responsibility it shifted between the Justice Department and FBI, the CIA, the State Department and the multiagency Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force formed by President Bush in October 2001.
Few names initially forwarded by the State Department, known as "cables," were checked by either the CIA or FBI, investigators said.
By April, when the terror task force assumed control of the system, the FBI had a backlog of about 8,000 names from the State Department. Of the 38,000 "Condor" applications processed through Aug. 1, about 280 names turned up on the anti-terrorism lists.
The State Department was given a refusal recommendation for 200 visa applicants, but that came after the 30-day hold had expired, meaning the visas had already been issued. Because of misspelled or duplicate names, GAO officials now believe these visas were actually issued to about 105 men whose names appear on the anti-terror lists.
In many cases, U.S. officials say the refusal recommendation was made simply because there wasn't enough information available about the applicant. But it remains possible that some of the men had real terrorist connections.
Much of the information about the situation was made public last month in a GAO report, but it was largely overlooked. The Chicago Tribune reported on the matter in Tuesday's editions.