DHS questioned over decision to let Saudi passengers skip normal passport controls

Fox News

A Department of Homeland Security program intended to give “trusted traveler”  status to low-risk airline passengers soon will be extended to Saudi travelers,  opening the program to criticism for accommodating the country that produced 15  of the 19 hijackers behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sources voiced concern about the decision to the Investigative Project on Terrorism,  which issued a report Wednesday  on the under-the-radar announcement — which was first made by Homeland Security  Secretary Janet Napolitano after meeting in January with her Saudi counterpart.  According to the IPT, this would be the first time the Saudi government has been  given such a direct role in fast-tracking people for entry into the United  States.

“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,” Rep.  Frank Wolf told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “There were 15  [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that  region.”

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 are questioning why Saudi Arabia gets to reap the benefits  of the program, when key U.S. allies like Germany and France are not enrolled;  Israel has reached a deal with the U.S., but that partnership has not yet been  implemented.

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.

The decision is a turnaround, the IPT notes, from when Saudi Arabia was  briefly placed on a list of countries whose U.S.-bound travelers would face  higher scrutiny, in the wake of the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt in  2009.

But Napolitano spoke highly of “the bond between the United States and the  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” when she announced the change in January.

“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.

The Global Entry program was launched in 2008 to expedite pre-approved  passengers through the airport customs and security process when they arrive in  the U.S. The program is designed to weed out low-risk passengers and enable  authorities to zero in on those who may be more likely to pose a threat.

But the program has sparked controversy in the past. Critics objected in late  2010 when Mexican citizens were included in the program, raising concerns that  drug cartels would quickly learn how to exploit loopholes in the plan. DHS  officials, however, insisted at the time that people who attain trusted traveler  status don’t get a free pass and are still subject to random searches.

The program allows travelers who have undergone a thorough vetting process —  fingerprinting, background checks, interviews with customs agents, etc.– to  attain a low-risk status that allows them to skip the line at customs and  complete their entry process at an automatic kiosk.

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/20/decision-to-extend-trusted-traveler-program-to-saudi-scrutinized/#ixzz2O7lta0V3

3 thoughts on “DHS questioned over decision to let Saudi passengers skip normal passport controls

  1. As they inspect grandpa’s colostomy bag and sexually molest children, those with terrorist ties get a pass. I don’t think it could get any clearer that Napolitano and this admin are actively encouraging another terror attack.

    They will create a crisis, prey on public fears, and leverage that crisis in order to institute an unconstitutional expansion of government powers.

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