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GAO report Raises Questions about how many of 22,000 “potentially dangerous travelers” entered the US

 

On January 24, 2017, the General Accountability Office (GAO)  released a program audit of the  US Customs and Border Protection  (CBP) in bound passenger screening program.  The 46-page report was entitled “CBP aims to prevent high-risk travelers from boarding U.S.-bound flights, but needs to evaluate program performance.”  The GAO report coincided with President Trump’s immigration executive order travel ban for 90 days impacting persons originating from seven majority Muslim countries deemed sources of jihadists.  Leo Hohmann authored  a of WorldNet Daily (WND)  article on the GAO  CBP program audit, “22,000 potentially dangerous travelers stopped by 'last line of defense'. He  cited  comments by  former DHS whistleblower Phil Haney, author of  See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government's Submission to Jihad.

Haney's comments in this WND article mirror those of a colleague and former CBP official Bill Ferri.  He was the  CBP assistant port director for New York/New Jersey.  We interviewed both Leo Hohmann, the author of this article, and DHS whistleblower Haney on the former Lisa Benson Show. The Haney interview was published in the August 2016, New English Review. SEE: http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/184506/sec_id/184506

Note this excerpt from Hohmann's article, especially Haney's responses:

A newly released GAO  Office study reveals more than 22,000 U.S.-bound foreign travelers were banned from boarding their flights in fiscal 2015. These “high risk” travelers were interdicted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection  agents before boarding planes bound for the U.S. Among that group, 10,648 were declared inadmissible while the remaining 11, 589 were told they could not board with the paperwork presented.

The GAO study goes on to lament that netting 22,000 suspect travelers reveals nothing about the pre-boarding program’s effectiveness. That is because CPB has failed to develop a baseline system of assessing how many of the overall high-risk travelers are caught before boarding the planes and showing up at a U.S. airport, which is the last line of defense against potential terrorists.

 “The GAO basically came out and said, ‘these are nice numbers but, you don’t really know how many of the bad guys you’re catching before they board the planes,'” said Phillip Haney, a former CBP  officer who screened migrants from high-risk countries. “You don’t really have a way of evaluating how effective you are, you may be getting 10 percent, you may be getting 50 percent, we don’t know. They say they have no baseline to assess whether they a reaching goals. No way of evaluating how effective the program  is because they haven’t set goals and then done assessment.”

In fact, the U.S. had such a system in place prior to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, Haney said. 

“They shut it down when we started the agency, so they’re going back trying to recreate a structure that had already existed,” he said. “They are  trying to recreate a pre-boarding program that already existed.

Someone who can confirm Haney’s assessment of this GAO report is Bill Ferri. Ferri retired as a CBP Assistant Port Director covering five airports in New York and New Jersey, and the New York – New Jersey seaport for Passenger Operations.  Following 9/11 he was temporarily reassigned to headquarters as part of a team that changed U.S. Customs’ primary mission to terrorist interdiction. SEE; our NER October 2016 interview with "Agent X", a former senior CBP official:  "Protecting our Borders from Terrorists?"  He is a colleague of Phil Haney having conducted an Internal Affairs investigation and exonerated him.  Subsequently they became friends.  Ferri showed up at the launch of Haney‘s book, "See Something, Say Nothing” at the National Press Club on June 15, 2016, watch here.

Ferri commented on the GAO report:

The findings are interesting, but it’s a summary and a public version.  The information given to GAO are figures that will most likely translate into budget numbers, for future foreign port officer placements.  During my service as Assistant Port director, I had officers assigned to foreign offices in the Immigration Advisory Program (IAP), and upon their return had discussions with many of them about the program.  I heard some interesting IAP officer critiques.  Quite a few reported that their dealings with State proved counterproductive.  To effectively measure the program, aspects of CBP data must be connected to FBI investigative data, a job for the National Targeting Center. However FBI is often guarded beyond reason with sister agencies.   In my view the GAO report fails to cover a number of issues thoroughly, and some are not covered at all. The report leaves us in the know, with a number of questions.   I’m sure the reason for this is that it’s a public report.

 It is a GAO critique, conducted, to an extent, by GAO auditors not necessarily in the know.  In the 90s I partook in reporting to GAO and authoring GAO critique responses for a number of USCS/GAO audit issues ; i.e., outbound currency, narcotics, and trade compliance interdictions. Regarding this report, what is most important to national security is not necessarily the congressional response to it. What’s important is the response of senior Federal agency management; primarily, but not entirely, CBP and FBI.  

Back to Hohmann’s report:

Combine this GAO report with the 2015 stats released by the U.S. Southern Command, which reports 10 percent of the 330,000 people who tried to cross the Southern border were from countries of special interest, which include many of the same nations on Trump’s list.

Sunni Muslim extremists are infiltrating the U.S., coming up from South America and Mexico with the help of known Latin American smuggling cartels, according to an intelligence report by the U.S. Southern Command.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR came out Tuesday and said it is instructing Muslims not to answer certain questions from U.S. government agents who interview them at airports or other ports of entry.

CAIR issued similar advice to U.S. Muslims in 2010 and 2011 with regard to cooperating with FBI terrorism investigations.

“They were never content with what the administration gave them, they always kept pushing for more and more,” said Haney.

CBP has officers stationed at airports around the world whose job is to screen passengers right there at the airport before they get on the plane bound for America, says Phillip Haney, who retired about a year ago from DHS where he worked for nearly 14 years as an immigration security analyst and screener.

 

  

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