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  1. #1
    Senior Member ruthiela's Avatar
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    Terrorist screening missed 75% of time Green card and visa

    http://www.dailybulletin.com/search/ci_4222795

    Article Launched: 8/23/2006 12:00 AM
    Terrorist screening missed 75% of time Green card and visa applications not checked against terror watch list
    By Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

    Inland Valley Daily Bulletin An estimated 75 percent of applicants for immigrant benefits - green cards, work visas, and a host of other documents - at a major federal processing center were not screened through the U.S. terrorism watch list over the past four years, the Daily Bulletin has learned.
    The error - on nearly 3 million applications dating to 2002 - was confirmed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers at the National Benefits Center in Lee's Summit, Mo., near Kansas City. The center is one of several facilities across the country that process foreign applications for immigrant benefits.
    Numerous Department of Homeland Security e-mails - sent the day after British authorities uncovered major terror plot - noted that supervisors and adjudicators at the Missouri center were not aware that a simple touch of a computer key would have allowed them to check the names of applicants against the highest-priority terrorist list. According to the e-mails and the adjudicators themselves, up to 2.8 million applications at the center dating to 2002 did not get such checks.
    Robert Cowan, director of the National Benefits Center, denied that benefits were processed incorrectly and said any failed background checks were given to supervisors for final review. Cowan added that the 75 percent figure was attributable to employees not properly marking enforcement documents, misspelling names, or leaving out names altogether.
    "If a hit is uncovered, no benefit or service is granted until that hit is fully resolved," Cowan said.
    Chris Bentley, a USCIS spokesman, said he "would be surprised if anyone could find documentation that USCIS has granted benefits to someone on the terrorist watch list."
    But the Daily Bulletin obtained several documents showing non-supervisory adjudicators resolving national security background checks, which runs counter to Cowan's assertion that only supervisors ran such checks. One document, dated July 27, recommends granting an immigration benefit even though the applicant, whose name was redacted for national security reasons, is acknowledged as being on the terrorist watch list.
    Other documents dating to 2003 show supervisors disregarding national security hits on applicants due to an inability to conduct thorough background investigations, then asking adjudicators to also disregard the hits and "proceed as required on their case."
    Sultan Farakhan, an adjudicator at the National Benefits Center since 2002, said in an interview Friday with the Daily Bulletin that he, along with what he described as a "majority" of employees at the Missouri center - including supervisors - were made aware of the background check problems in an e-mail sent Aug. 11. The previous day, British authorities uncovered a terrorist plot that would have used liquid explosives to blow up airplanes flying from the United Kingdom to the U.S.
    Farakhan and three other center employees interviewed by the Daily Bulletin said they were unaware of the terrorism function computer keys, F14 and F15, which takes the person processing the application to a specific screen that accesses the terrorism watch list.
    "When I realized we were improperly trained and that we had not been checking the applicants against the appropriate terrorist watch list, I was terrified," Farakhan said.
    Farakhan said he has filed internal complaints against the National Benefits Center in the past and decided to go public with the watch list error after the British airplane attacks were thwarted.
    Cowan said supervisors misstated the background check errors to employees in the Aug. 11 e-mail. He also said immigration applications are checked through agencies other than the National Benefits Center, including the FBI.
    But Michael Maxwell, who used to be the director of internal affairs for USCIS, said not all immigrant applicants are required to have FBI fingerprint or name checks, and that is why such checks are important.
    Responding to Maxwell, Cowan said "it's true" the FBI does not check all applications, but said other law enforcement agencies do. Pressed for details, Cowan said he could not reveal the process by which the applications are checked.
    Asked about the importance of the F14/15 key functions, Cowan said they are not necessarily required during the application process. "USCIS opted at the national level to not always require the F14 or F15 keys," he said.
    U.S. immigration law requires that every applicant be checked against the terrorist watch list, said Rosemary Jenks, an attorney and immigration expert with Numbers U.S.A., a Washington D.C. based think-tank. "They can't opt out of the law," Jenks said. "In addition they're not following their own written policies when they get a terrorist hit"
    Other law enforcement checks could resolve a negative hit on an applicant, said Bentley, the USCIS spokesman. "Regardless of how it's resolved, or by whatever means it's resolved, national security is never compromised. The hit is always underscored, or resolved, before a decision is made."
    Maxwell, however, questioned Cowan's and Bentley's assertions.
    "There is only one U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service," he said. "There are no other law enforcement agencies tasked with conducting alien background checks and granting immigration status. That responsibility lies solely with USCIS."
    Adjudicators use a database called the Interagency Border Inspection System, or IBIS, which combines the national security information of multiple government agencies. When used correctly, the system allows adjudicators to see if immigration benefit applicants trigger national security or criminal concerns.
    When a USCIS supervisor gets a Tier 1 IBIS hit -- considered to be a major threat to public safety, or a terrorist match -- the information is forwarded to the USCIS fraud unit for further investigation. But according to National Benefits Center employees, supervisors and others with final say on the documents never sent them on to headquarters.
    The Tier 1 check is mandatory under USCIS standard operating procedures. Some 35 million applications get background checks each year.
    Several employees confirmed they had not been properly screening what are known as "adjustment of status" applications, which include green cards and employment authorization documents.
    Inadequate training of employees, enormous backlogs of applications and lack of internal controls led to the oversight, said employees interviewed by the Daily Bulletin.
    In May, an e-mail from supervisors to employees noted that applications were not being checked accurately through IBIS. But the situation was never remedied, and adjudicators and supervisors continued to grant benefits until Aug. 11, when the second e-mail warning was sent.
    After the four-year oversight was identified in May, an additional 180,000 applications were still improperly screened. An official with the National Benefits Center, who spoke under condition of anonymity fearing reprisal, said that without employees stepping forward, the American public "would be none the wiser.
    "It was generic training," the official said. "What happened was, customer service took first priority and national security was secondary. We've always been told there's an acceptable risk. I'm willing to accept a 2 percent failure rate. But a 75 percent failure rate, I cannot accept that and the public cannot afford that."
    In another e-mail sent to adjudicators at the National Benefits Center on Aug. 11, Norma A. Limon, supervisory adjudications officer for the Department of Homeland Security, warned employees that they were still failing to properly check applicants.
    "After yesterday's British terrorist incident, we must ensure that every IBIS record and sub-records are accessed properly," Limon said in her e-mail. "I am seeing a lot of IBIS hits where the F14/15 LINKLIST and/or F13 sub-record are not being accessed at all."
    On certain applications, the security keys, F14 or F15, would automatically light up, notifying adjudicators to continue the check. What employees and supervisors did not know was that the keys had to be accessed any time they appeared on the screen, whether they were highlighted or not.
    "Any time you see available access to F14/15 LINKLIST at the bottom of the IBIS hit, even if it's not highlighted, you must access it by clicking on the F14/15 key on the keyboard," Limon warned employees in the e-mail.
    Limon could not be reached for comment.
    Maxwell said immigration officers should come forward to congressional leaders and the Office of Inspector General and reveal the full scope of national security vulnerabilities associated with the background checks at USCIS.
    "I think only Congress, the GAO or the Inspector General can truly get to the bottom of this," Maxwell said. "Based on their combined years of experience and the information provided to date by immigration employees, it seems inevitable that some unknown number of the most hardened criminals and terrorists may have simply slipped through the system."
    Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail at sara.carteror by phone at (909) 483-8552.
    END OF AN ERA 1/20/2009

  2. #2
    Senior Member AlturaCt's Avatar
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    They had this on Dobbs tonight. Had a clip of Mr No Homeland security himself who said "no need to worry, Poncho and me are in charge!"

    Don't worry about it he says. Just one more hole, one more oops, one more undermining of our way of life, One more bringing danger to our communities and families.

    I can't stand it anymore. I want everyone of these seditious and traitorous SOB's brought up on charges.
    [b]Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.
    - Arnold J. Toynbee

  3. #3
    Administrator ALIPAC's Avatar
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    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  4. #4
    Senior Member greyparrot's Avatar
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    This is truly shocking! This Robert Cowan, director of the National Benefits Center, is either a blatant liar or a blithering idiot that shouldn't be in charge of anything more complicated than dressing himself!

    The USCIS has left the door wide open to terrorists trying to gain legal entry to the U.S. for FOUR YEARS, and Chertoff is telling the citizens of this country that our national security wasn't compromised?!?!?!

    This should remove any doubts that the MSM is totally complicit in this sellout of American. If they weren't, the discovery of this HUGE GAPING HOLE in our national security would be making the headlines of every newspaper and would be the leading story on every news show.

    What do we get instead? Every little detail about what Jonbenets alleged killer ate on his plane trip back to the states.

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