Tags: Feds: | How | Let | 100 | Terror | Suspects | Get

Feds: How We Let 100 Terror Suspects Get Visas

Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM

The department, however, revoked their visas on realizing the mistake and prevented them from coming to the United States.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the General Accounting Office discovered this mistake while looking into issues surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks and visa issuance.

During summer 2002, he said, the department received notice from intelligence agencies that about 700 out of more than 23,000 applicants who were being reviewed under a new program called "Visa Condor" should be "considered problematic for visa issuance."

At the time, the department had an arrangement with agencies such as the FBI, which allowed a consular officer to issue the visa if no negative information was received about an applicant within 30 days after that applicant had been blocked for review.

About 100 of those visa applicants, identified as suspected terrorists by U.S. intelligence agencies, were issued visas under this arrangement because the 30-day waiting period had expired before the State Department heard from law enforcement officials.

"So we immediately took steps to revoke all of those visas upon receiving the message from the task force of the security concerns. We sent notices to the applicant and notified the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice," said Reeker.

Since then, he said, the department has decided that the 30-day waiting period would no longer apply. "Now we wait until we have an affirmative response from the agencies, rather than the agreement where we would wait 30 days and in the absence of a negative response, we could to ahead and issue the visa," he said.

Reeker said a State Department team was in Jordan to probe alleged visa fraud and the apparent suspension of a U.S. diplomat.

"We became aware of some allegations, and we sent a team immediately to further develop the actual facts there," he said.

He said he couldn't give more information about the inquiry until he heard from the team.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The department, however, revoked their visas on realizing the mistake and prevented them from coming to the United States. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the General Accounting Office discovered this mistake while looking into issues surrounding the Sept. 11...
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2002-00-27
Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM
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