DHS: Saudi Passengers To Get Trusted Traveler Status

The Department of Homeland Security is coming under fire, not only for their solicitations of billions of round of ammunition, but also of their program intended to extend trusted traveler status to Saudi travelers. Why is that a problem? It’s a problem because of the fact that 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on America were from Saudi Arabia. This would allow them into the country on a fast track for five years.

This will mark the first time, at least openly, that the Saudi government will have a direct role in vetting who is eligible for being fast tracked for entry into the United States.

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An agreement to accept Saudi Arabian applicants into the Global Entry trusted traveler program drew little notice when it was announced in January. Now, some officials question why the country merits such a benefit – which is similar to a theme park “fast pass” to avoid long lines – when other allies like Germany and France are not yet included. A program for Israeli travelers was reached last May but has not been implemented.

Travelers approved for the program can skip the normal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lines starting next year and enter the country after providing their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk. Only Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands currently enjoy the benefit, although pilot programs could expand it to a handful of others.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the agreement in January after meeting with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. It “marks another major step forward in our partnership,” Napolitano said at the time. “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.”

Details about how the plan will work with the Saudis have not been released. Nayef’s ministry, however, will be responsible for screening which applicants will be considered when the pilot program begins next year. It’s not known whether the Saudi ministry will share its raw intelligence about applicants with its American counterparts. What is known, based on information provided by a Homeland Security source, is that each individual who makes it into the program will have been vetted by both the CBP and by the Saudi Interior Ministry against various databases.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to make anyone available to answer questions about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Global Entry program after repeated requests throughout last week, and after indicating someone would provide more details.

“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,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), whose district lost more than 70 people during the attack on the Pentagon. “There were 15 [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that region.”

“Some of the people who went back to Saudi Arabia through Guantanamo – we find that they are in battlefields in Afghanistan or some other place, so I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he added.

Wolf reminds us that the Saudis obstructed former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s effort to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing by refusing to share information. So the Saudis have a long history of withholding information from America. “I think there has been a history of not cooperating,” Wolf said.

Additionally, it was the Saudis that funded the madrassas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, something that Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) said he would like to see the United States public education system modeled after, which paved the way for 9/11. This is also part of Representative Wolf’s concern.

Remember following the attacks that it was the Saudis that were the benefactors of the Bush administration in their flight out of the country. In fact, it led to Vanity Fair writing a piece in which it asked, “How was it possible that, just as President Bush declared a no-holds-barred global war on terror that would send hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and just as Osama bin Laden became Public Enemy No. 1 and the target of a worldwide manhunt, the White House would expedite the departure of so many potential witnesses, including two dozen relatives of the man behind the attack itself?” Indeed, just how is that possible? It would seem that is has been clear that there have always existed deep ties between the Saudis and the Bush family.

Only a few countries enjoy inclusion in the Global Entry program. Among those are Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands. Some officials are asking whey Saudi Arabia is being pushed to the front of the program when other U.S. allies such as Germany and France are not enrolled. While Israel and the U.S. have made a deal, they have yet to implement their partnership.

So what does this mean for Saudi travelers? 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.

“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.

I’m sorry, when was the last time America attacked Saudi Arabia or any of our citizens attacked Saudi Arabia? The only threat that has been between our countries has come from theirs. In my opinion, no travelers from any Islamic country should receive trusted traveler status.

With that said it is rather amazing to do this when our own citizens are presumed guilty until groped, porno photographed, stripped and otherwise harassed in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment precisely because alleged hijackers from Saudi Arabia did what they did! Personally, I’d rather see people left alone, TSA disbanded, and freedom restored in America. Instead, we continue allowing DHS and the Federal government to impose upon our liberties. When will there be a tremendous outcry against such things?

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