- Nov 22, 2003
Serious problem, glad to see an editorial taking it on:
Editorial: Evasion erodes federal credibility
The Washington DC Examiner Newspaper, The Examiner
Sep 4, 2006 4:00 AM (1 day ago)
Current rank: # 1 of 9,517 articles
WASHINGTON - Remember those 11 Egyptian students who arrived earlier this year in New York, supposedly bound for Montana State University, but then quickly dispersed across the country?
All were rounded up within a few days, including two who turned up near Baltimore as employees of a pizza joint that previously employed several of the plotters who intended to attack the Fort McHenry tunnel.
However, the government assured us that none of the 11 had terrorist connections.
It would be comforting to believe that, but then we learn that at least three of the 11 were retained for a five-hour bond hearing that was closed to the media.
Bond hearings typically require much less time and are open to the public.
It is also disconcerting to learn that the FBI, not immigration authorities, were the lead federal agency in questioning the three and that they had used aliases to buy bus tickets from New York to Baltimore.
So why the closed hearing and FBI involvement with these three?
Their names are Ahmed Refaat Saad El Moghazi El Laket, 19, Mohamed Ibrahim El Sayed El Moghazy, 20, and Moustafa Wagdy Moustafa El Gafary, 18.
Unfortunately, the governments questionable public communications on the Egyptian 11 trio is all too typical.
Just this past week, The Examiner asked a senior Department of Homeland Security public affairs official about the status of nearly 600 complaints of criminal activity by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services employees, as well as the status of the backlog of 41,000 immigration applications that generated hits on one of the governments anti-terrorist databases.
Here is the response provided by that senior DHS public affairs official to The Examiners very specific questions: A top priority of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is to both preserve and enhance the integrity of our nations immigration system.
While USCIS has a high level of confidence in our processes, we are constantly striving to improve them.
We take all reports of employee misconduct seriously.
To this end, USCIS refers all allegations for investigation and resolution.
In the government flak business, such vague, evasive feel-good wording is used to avoid answering potentially embarrassing questions and in the process to tell the inquiring journalists to get lost.
It is also intended to mislead the public into thinking everything is under control, everything is OK. Nothing to see here, folks, so just move along.
The cumulative effect of such misleading official communications over time is a diminution of the very credibility with the American public the government will desperately need when a terrorist plot succeeds in killing and injuring Americans at home.