[Congressional Record: October 3, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mrs. Feinstein):
S. 1489. A bill to provide for the sharing of information between
Federal departments, agencies, and other entities with respect to
aliens seeking admission to the United States, and for other purposes;
to the Committee on the Judiciary.
By Ms. SNOWE:
S. 1490. A bill to establish terrorist lookout committees in each
United States Embassy; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mrs. Feinstein):
S. 1491. A bill to provide for the establishment and implementation
of a fingerprint processing system to be used whenever a visa is issued
to an alien; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Ms. SNOWE. Madam President, I rise today to introduce three bills
that will provide our first line of defense, our Consular Officers at
our embassies and INS Inspectors at our ports-of-entry, with the
resources and information they need to determine whether to grant a
foreign national a visa or permit them entry to the United States. They
are: The Terrorist Lookout Committee Act, the Visa Fingerprinting Act,
and the Information Sharing to Strengthen America's Security Act.
I saw firsthand the consequences of serious inadequacies in
coordination and communication during my twelve years as ranking member
of the House Foreign Affairs International Operations Subcommittee and
chair of the International Operations Subcommittee of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. It was this lack of coordination that
permitted the radical Egyptian Sheik Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993
World Trade Center bombing, to enter and exit the U.S. five times
unimpeded even after he was put on the State Department's Lookout List
in 1987, and allowed him to get permanent residence status by the INS
even after the State Department issued a certification of visa
These bills are an essential step toward removing a vulnerability in
our national security that has continued through the years. For
example, the Inman report of 1984, which was commissioned by Secretary
Shultz after three terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassy and
marines in Lebanon in 1983 and 1984, found that coordination between
agencies must be improved. After the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania, the Accountability Review Board, a board which is
required by law to make findings and recommendations upon the loss of
life or property, made a recommendation that the FBI and State
Department should improve their information sharing on terrorism. The
2000 National Commission on Terrorism also recommended that the FBI
should establish a cadre of reports officers to distill and disseminate
terrorism-related information once it is collected.
While intelligence is frequently exchanged, no law requires law
enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information on dangerous
aliens with the State Department. The information sharing that does
occur among agencies is done on a voluntary basis. Accordingly, the
first bill I am introducing, the Information Sharing to Strengthen
America's Security Act, requires all U.S. law enforcement agencies and
the intelligence community to share information on foreign nationals
with the State Department so that visas can be granted with the
assurance that the sum total of the U.S. government has no knowledge
why an alien should not be granted a visa to travel to the U.S.
This bill increases the information sharing among our law enforcement
agencies, our intelligence community, and the State Department, so that
foreign nationals who are known by any entity of the U.S. Government to
be associated with, or members of, terrorist organizations are denied a
visa. This includes the FBI, DEA, INS, Customs, CIA and the Defense
Intelligence Agency, DIA, all vital agencies in the war on terrorism.
The second bill I am introducing--the Terrorist Lookout Committee
Act, builds on the Information Sharing to Strengthen America's Security
Act by requiring a Terrorist Lookout Committee to be established in
every one of our embassies. This committee, which would be chaired by
the Deputy Chief of Mission, will be comprised of the senior
representatives of all law enforcement agencies and the intelligence
community. The purpose of the mandated monthly meeting is to provide a
forum for these officials to add names to the State Department's
Consular Lookout and Support System, CLASS, of those who are considered
dangerous aliens and, if they applied for a visa, should undergo a
thorough review and possible denial of the visa.
If no names are submitted to the list then the chair is required to
certify, subject to an Accountability Review Board, that no member had
knowledge of any name that should be included. This requirement will
elevate awareness of, and focus constant attention on, the necessity of
maintaining the most accurate and current information possible.
Finally, quarterly reports by the Secretary of State are to be
submitted to the House International Relations Committee and the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee.
To ensure that the foreign national who received the visa from our
Embassy is the same person using it to enter the United States, I have
introduced the Visa Fingerprinting Act. This bill requires the
Secretary of State and the INS Commissioner to jointly establish and
implement a fingerprint-backed check system. Foreign nationals would be
fingerprinted before a visa could be issued, with information
catalogued in a database accessible to Immigration officials. INS
authorities at port-of-entry would then be required to match
fingerprint data with that of the foreign nationals seeking entry into
the U.S., with the INS certifying to the match before permitting entry.
My bill authorizes a one-time congressional expenditure to establish
and implement the system, but the cost of operating the system would be
funded through an increase in the visa service charge required for each
The use of biometric technology such as fingerprint imaging, retinal
and iris scans, and voice recognition, is no longer just a part of our
science-fiction movies, but has become a widely used means of identity
verification. The U.S. Government uses it at military and secret
installations for access to both information and the installations
themselves. Airports, such as Charlotte-Douglas International which
utilizes iris scanning technology, have incorporated biometric
technology to limit access to particular areas of the airport to
authorized personnel only.
Interestingly, the INS already started down this road when, in 1998,
it began to issue biometric crossing cards to Mexicans who cross the
border frequently. These cards have a digital fingerprint image which,
upon crossing, is
matched to the fingerprint of the person possessing the card.
The bottom line is, we must stop terrorists not only at their points
of entry, but more critically, at their point of origin. In America's
war on terrorism, we can do no less.
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