2002-11-30 / Community

Weiner: ‘End Saudi Double Standard’

Weiner: ‘End Saudi Double Standard’

Foreign nationals who enter the U.S. from Saudi Arabia are not being subjected to the same tough INS tracking measures now being applied to those from 18 terror-sponsoring states.  It's just the latest in a string of disturbing revelations that suggest a dangerous double standard within the Bush Administration, giving Saudi Arabia a free pass not afforded to any other terror hot spot in the world.

Under INS's National Security Entry Exit Registration System (N-SEERS), nationals from 18 terrorist hot spots who enter the United States are automatically subjected to tight tracking measures.  The problem? Saudi Arabia doesn't make the list.

When the N-SEERS program began in June, nationals from only 5 countries were automatically subjected to strict scrutiny: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria.  Saudi Arabia didn't make the list.

On November 23, Ashcroft expanded the program to include 13 more countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  Saudi Arabia?  Still exempt.

Why is it so important?  Because under N-SEERS, any foreign national from one of the target countries who wants to stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days, and who was born on 12/2/86 or later, is automatically subjected to fingerprinting and photographing at their point of entry, periodic checks by INS during their stay, and a required departure check-in when they leave.

As a result, photos and fingerprints can be cross matched with those of known terrorists, those granted entry can be kept under tight watch by the INS, and those who overstay their visa can be tracked down.

But Saudi Arabia doesn't automatically trigger heightened scrutiny, despite new allegations that the Saudi government may have indirectly provided cash to 9/11 hijackers, reports that the Saudi government was uncooperative with U.S. authorities post-9/11, 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and Osama Bin Laden was born and bred in Saudi Arabia.

  Today, Rep. Weiner called on Attorney General Ashcroft to add Saudi Arabia to the N-SEERS heightened scrutiny list, and announced plans to introduce legislation to close the terror dragnet loophole to include the Saudis. 

  "After 9/11, President Bush rallied the country and put our enemies on notice, by saying 'you are either with or with the terrorists'," said Rep. Weiner.  "But the sound bite doesn't match reality, because under the Bush Administration you're either with us or with the terrorists--or you're from Saudi Arabia, in which case the rules don't apply at all.  It's time for the Bush Administration to end the Saudi double standard, and to stop playing politics with public safety."

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