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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Lawmakers concerned about 'potential risks' of giving Saudi passengers fast-track sta

    Lawmakers concerned about 'potential risks' of giving Saudi passengers fast-track status

    Published March 28, 2013

    Republican lawmakers are voicing concern about the "potential risks" of a Department of Homeland Security decision granting "trusted traveler" status to airline passengers from Saudi Arabia.

    Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and six other lawmakers questioned the program in a letter Wednesday to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    They asked for "assurances" about whether Saudi applicants would receive proper screening before being enrolled and what steps would be taken to prevent terrorists from exploiting the system. They noted, as other critics of the decision have, that Saudi Arabia produced 15 of the 19 hijackers behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    "Certainly, despite our longstanding relationship with the Kingdom, there are potential risks in opening this program to Saudi Arabia that must be considered," they wrote.

    They noted that Saudi Arabia also was temporarily on a list of countries whose U.S.-bound travelers would face higher scrutiny following the attempted Christmas Day bombing in 2009.

    The Investigative Project on Terrorism issued a report last week on the department's under-the-radar announcement to expand the Global Entry program to Saudi Arabia -- which was first made by Napolitano after meeting in January with her Saudi counterpart. 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. Applicants are expected to undergo a thorough vetting before they are accepted.

    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 were questioning why Saudi Arabia gets to reap the benefits of the program, when key U.S. allies like Germany and France are not enrolled.

    The lawmakers who wrote to Napolitano said they remain "vigilant for vulnerabilities that our enemies can exploit" to get inside U.S. borders.

    "Expanding Global Entry to high-risk countries may represent such a risk," they wrote.

    Read more: Lawmakers concerned about 'potential risks' of giving Saudi passengers fast-track status | Fox News

  2. #2
    Super Moderator imblest's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    North Carolina

    House Republicans ask why Saudi Arabia was added to trusted traveler program

    This bears re-examination in light of the whole "Saudi national" thing--

    House Republicans ask why Saudi Arabia was added to trusted traveler program

    1:27 AM 03/29/2013
    Daily Caller

    House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and the panel’s subcommittee chairmen are calling on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to explain why DHS has extended a trusted traveler program to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    In a letter to Napolitano released Thursday, the seven GOP lawmakers voiced their concerns about “potential risks” associated with opening the Global Entry trusted traveler program — which “allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States” — to Saudi Arabia

    “Of the 19 individuals who hijacked American planes on September 11, 2001 — 15 were from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the committee members wrote in the letter dated March 27 but released the following day. “More recently, following the plot to blow up an international flight over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the Department saw fit to increase the scrutiny of passengers from countries like Saudi Arabia. This must be a factor in determining who to admit into the Global Entry Program.”

    Napolitano and Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef announced the agreement to expand the trusted traveler program to Saudi Arabia and begin plans for a similar program for American travelers to Saudi Arabia in January.

    “In effort to reaffirm the extraordinary bond between them and advance this partnership, [Ministry of Interior] and DHS have signed an arrangement to begin implementation for each nation’s trusted traveler programs,” the pair said in a joint statement. “The trusted traveler programs will facilitate trade and travel between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America and will help authorities from MOI and DHS more effectively identify potential threats to keep their borders and countries secure.”

    “The objective will be to start implementation within the next six months with full operations starting in 2014,” they

    The addition of Saudi Arabia to the trusted traveler program has received increased attention in recent days following a report from the Investigative Project on Terrorism. That report highlighted concerns about giving travelers from the repressive monarchy easeri access than is given to citizens of many close U.S. allies. Only a few other countries are currently a part of the program — Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands. Meanwhile American friends of long standing — including France, Great Britain and Germany — have not been included, and an agreement with Israel has yet to be implemented.

    In their letter to Napolitano, McCaul and his Republican cohorts — New York Rep. Peter King, Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Meehan, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, and Indiana Republican Rep. Susan Brooks — requested information on the decision making process and assurances that steps will be taken to ensure the program is not manipulated by terrorist operatives.

    “This Committee is supportive of the Department’s efforts to expand trade and increase travel to the United States. However, we remain vigilant for vulnerabilities that our enemies can exploit to gain access to the Homeland. Expanding Global Entry to high-risk countries may represent such a risk,” they concluded.
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