Speaking from a country that sent us the majority of the 9/11 hijackers and from a conference that banned Denmark for daring to speak up against Islamist bullies, Al Gore this weekend blasted the United States for its “abuses” against Arabs:
Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed “terrible abuses” against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.
Gore said Arabs had been “indiscriminately rounded up” and held in “unforgivable” conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida’s hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.
“The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake,” Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum.
No. The thoughtless way in which we handled Saudi visas before 9/11–handing them out indiscriminately like Pez candies through the State Department’s kowtowing Visa Express program–was the mistake. A deadly mistake.
Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.”
“Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it’s wrong,” Gore said. “I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country.”
Let’s cut through Gore’s disgraceful slander and pander. The immediate post-9/11 detention of illegal aliens from suspect countries netted 762 aliens — nearly all of them here illegally — who were held while being investigated for possible ties to terrorism. I wrote about the Justice Department inspector general’s report detailing the detentions three years ago:
Squawk, squawk, squawk. The nation’s leading liberal editorial writers were in full wing-flapping mode over Attorney General John Ashcroft again this week. The latest object of consternation: an internal Justice Department report regarding the post-September 11 detention of 762 aliens — nearly all of them here illegally — while they were investigated for possible ties to terrorism.
Yes, the extensive report highlights a few significant civil liberties concerns. But as has been typical of the anti-Ashcroft Chicken Littles, the newspaper editorial attacks are rife with false claims, exaggerations and foolish belittlement of the continuing national security threats posed by lax immigration enforcement.
The Los Angeles Times indignantly claimed that the feds “held most (detainees) for months without charges.”
False. If the Times editorial board had actually bothered to read page 30 of the inspector general’s report — rather than rely on the ACLU’s talking points — it would have seen that the inspector general found exactly the opposite.
Almost all of the detainees received written word of their charges within 30 days or less. In fact, the report found only 24 cases out of the 762 where it took more than a month to serve notice of charges. And of those cases, the inspector general acknowledged that there were numerous legitimate reasons for delay, such as logistical disruptions in New York City after Sept. 11, including electrical outages, office shutdowns and mail service cancellation that slowed delivery of charging documents.
As for alleged harassment and abuse of detainees, the inspector general’s report stated that “we did not find evidence of a pattern of physical abuse of September 11 detainees” at one of two facilities investigated. At the other, 12 of 19 detainees claimed they were subjected to “some form of physical abuse.” It does appear there was at least one brutish guard (since fired) who acted unjustly and that some detainees experienced uncomfortable conditions while in confinement. But none of the allegations of either physical or verbal abuse of detainees was sufficient to press criminal charges.
The Washington Post attacked the Justice Department’s cruelty in holding “people unfortunate enough to have a problem with their immigration status.” Page 62 of the inspector general’s report, for example, cites the purportedly outrageous delay in releasing an illegal alien who had come under suspicion because of his employment with a Middle Eastern airline. The detainee had been ordered kicked out of the country way back in 1995 for violating immigration laws, but defied the order for six years. In October 2001, he was arrested based on a lead received by the FBI. It took three and a half months for the FBI to clear him.
What’s more outrageous: that paperwork oversights and overloaded caseworkers led the FBI to hold this detainee for a little longer than necessary, or that hundreds of thousands of such deportation fugitives are considered by Post editorial writers and their ilk as “run-of-the-mill immigration cases” who should be left alone?
The media elite may remain stubbornly oblivious to the dire consequences of winking at violations of immigration laws. The families of the murdered Sept. 11 victims can’t afford that academic luxury. Yet, under the headline “Mr. Ashcroft’s abuses,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch piled on: “Normally, immigrants with minor visa violations aren’t arrested. But in the wake of Sept. 11, the Justice Department tried to deny the men bond and adopted a ‘hold until cleared’ policy.”
Do these critics really believe that turning all the illegal alien detainees loose before running thorough criminal and terrorist background checks would have been the ideal choice in the aftermath of Sept. 11? And wouldn’t all these editorial know-it-alls be the first to complain if Ashcroft allowed the release of a single detainee who turned out to be a terrorist? The squawking never ceases.
The notion that Saudis are entitled to unfettered visas to work, study, and do business in this country–the notion that entry into America is an entitlement and not a privilege–cost 3,000 innocent lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
How much did the Saudis pay you to forget, Al?
More blogger reax…
Scott Johnson at Power Line dubs him “Al of Arabia.”
Captain’s Quarters skewers Gore’s sellout.
Tigerhawk condemns Gore’s betrayal on foreign soil.
Instapundit: “Only Al Gore could come up with the idea of criticizing Bush for not sucking up to the Saudis enough. Sigh.”
Oblogatory Anecdotes calls him Al “Dhimmi” Gore.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer notes other Saudi panderers at the Jeddah conference.
Ankle Biting Pundits: Al gores the truth yet again.
Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics is right: Ann Coulter’s comments this weekend were dumb, but Al Gore’s were truly insidious.
Terry Jeffrey at Human Events Online has another reminder for Gore:
Gore must not have read the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. It concluded that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. These hijackers, the commission concluded, took advantage of weak U.S. immigration and visa enforcement.
In fact, the hijackers submitted a total of 24 U.S. visa applications, of which 20 were retained in U.S. State Department files. “All 20 of these applications,” a 9/11 Commission staff report concluded, “were incomplete in some way, with a data field left blank or not answered fully.”
“Three of the hijackers submitted applications that contained false statements that could have been proven to be false at the time they applied,” said the staff report, entitled “Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States.”
“During their stays in the United States at least six of the 9/11 hijackers violated immigration laws,” said the report.
According to the report, the 9/11 hijackers who were given visas to enter and stay in the U.S.: “Included among them known al Qaeda operatives who could have been watchlisted; Presented passports ‘manipulated in a fraudulent manner;’ Presented passports with ‘suspicious indictors’ of extremism; Made detectable false statements on their visa applications; Were pulled out of the travel stream and given greater scrutiny by border officials; Made false statements to border officials to gain entry into the United States; and Violated immigration laws while inside the United States.”
Given these facts established by the 9/11 Commission, Gore’s statements in Jiddah criticizing stricter U.S. visa-law enforcement against Arab nationals after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are not only foolish and un-American they are uninformed.
We shall see if any Democratic leader calls him on it.