Hillary’s Visa Problem
President Obama came back to work this week after leaving the Presidency for his Hawaiian holiday vacation. Hawaii proved to be a restful retreat for the President, his team and the White House press corps who all took time off from their regular duties to enjoy the Hawaiian sun and ignore their responsibilities.
But after 10 days of tropical silence, this week there is a sudden flurry of security reviews, media statements, ass-covering and more misstatements coming out of Washington from the Obama Administration. But we still don’t know why the State Department didn’t revoke the visa of a man they knew had ties to al-qaeda.
Even the normally workaholic Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was enjoying a silent 10 nights on the matter. Taking her time to get the facts and pack up the Christmas decorations, Hillary finally came out looking like she had just landed in Yugoslavia under sniper fire. Secretary Clinton joined Janet Napolitano in glossing over the facts surrounding the Christmas Day attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253. Not to be outdone that all went well with her agency while the boss was on vacation, Secretary Clinton said that the State Department “fully complied with the requirements set forth in the interagency process” about sharing threat information. What? Fully complied? The State Department not only failed to share the threat information with a variety of agencies but those who had the information didn’t even act upon it themselves. In fact, Several State Department officials in Nigeria and Washington, DC didn’t even do the basic tasks expected of public servants working to protect Americans.
Not only did the State Department not comply with all the requirements Secretary Clinton had said, but the State Department also violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 1735 by not providing the new information they received on an al-qaeda suspect to the UN. We know that State Department officials in Nigeria and Washington had the information because someone wrote a top secret cable dated November 20, 2009 explaining that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had ties to al-qaeda. This means that the State Department had 35 days to revoke Adbulmutallab’s visa and share the information with the UN – it failed to do either.
Had the State Department shared the cable with other U.S. agencies or given the information to the UN, as required under the Chapter 7 Resolution, all Nations would have been obligated to deny entry and freeze the assets of anyone officially on the UN’s Terrorist List.
The smoking gun is the November 20 State Department cable that wasn’t acted upon. No one shared it with the Embassy visa section, other U.S. agencies or the UN. How could a top secret cable be written but not acted upon by the same Embassy that wrote it? Questions remain as to who approved the cable, where was it sent and why wasn’t a visa revoked because of the cable?
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Sanders and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson need to answer some questions about what they did with the November 20, 2009 top secret cable containing crucial national security information. Did they ignore the fact that their Embassy identified an al-qaeda operative? Did they not check to see if a visa was already granted to this al-qaeda operative? Who all approved the visa? Who read the cable? At the very minimum, Ambassador Robin Sanders needs to tell the American people why she didn’t revoke the visa of Abdulmutallab after her team originally approved it.
What we’ve learned since Janet Napolitano and Hillary Clinton thought everything went as bureaucratically expected on Christmas Day is that President Obama takes surf board accidents on his vacation very seriously but is willing to delegate the safety of the American public to subordinates.