Jewish World Review March 26, 2002 / 13 Nisan, 5762

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Bureaucratic buffoonery at the INS | It went beyond mere bureaucratic incompetence last week when the Immigration and Naturalization Service renewed the visas of two dead terrorists who had killed themselves flying jumbo jets into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. It revealed a gaping hole in our national security.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of thousands of foreign students in the country, and no one knows where they are, what they are doing or whether they are enrolled somewhere taking flying lessons learning how to fly large airplanes into tall buildings.

What makes Sept. 11 doubly tragic and the visa episode so out of touch with President George W. Bush's war on terrorism is that the terrorist attacks might well have been prevented if there were in place a proper system to screen the entry and monitor the whereabouts and activities of noncitizens in the United States and to share information about them among law enforcement agencies. We have a global credit risk-management system that allows people to present their credit cards and have their credit approved within 30 seconds. The system works because it is built on a consistent and standard infrastructure that allows banks and merchants all over the world to easily participate and makes it very difficult to steal someone's identity.

This system is proof that a global security risk-management system can just as easily be deployed. That system can work to prevent such outrages as occurred shortly before Sept. 11, when one of the soon-to-be terrorists, Mohamad Atta, who was wanted in Broward County, Fla., was stopped for a traffic violation in a neighboring Florida county but allowed to go free because the officer had no way of knowing there was an arrest warrant out on him.

Non-Americans granted entry into the United States should be required to have a digitized identification card containing a biometric identifier (fingerprint, handprint, retina scan, DNA profile) that uniquely and consistently establishes their identity. The card can and must be connected to a national database of information that would be shared on a need-to-know basis with all federal, state and local government agencies with a legitimate need to verify the person's identity. This is the only way to be sure that noncitizens really are who they say they are.

Law enforcement agencies in one state must be able to know that a noncitizen has an outstanding arrest warrant in another state, and the INS should not give visas to people who are considered "wanted" by another organization. Foreign students who cannot verify their identity should not be allowed to register for classes, and individuals on student visas who are not verifiably in school should be rounded up and deported.

A digitized biometric identifier is essential to ensure that two different organizations are talking about the same individual. If one agency says, "Mr. X is a terrorist" and another agency says "Mr. Y just entered the country," how can the authorities know if these two people are really the same person? Some unique way of identifying individuals is required. Names don't work because they are not unique and they are easily falsified.

Government documents are also easily copied. The only reliable way of confirming that two people are the same individual is through the use of biometrics. If two people have the same fingerprint, they are very likely to be the same individual. (Need less certainty? Compare pictures. Need more? Compare DNA.)

This system is not foolproof since it would be wrong to require American citizens to have such an identity card, although people should be given the option to obtain one voluntarily to facilitate establishing their own identity. There is nothing, for example, to keep someone attempting to board a plane from showing a falsified driver's license and saying, "I am not required to have a digitized identification card, I'm an American citizen."

However, if such a card were required for noncitizens to obtain a visa, a green card or a driver's license, it would make it much more difficult to fabricate an identity in the first instance and to carry off the impersonation of a citizen. Moreover, if noncitizens were required to present their card to the INS periodically to verify their identity and location, it would make it easier to ensure that noncitizens did not overstay or abuse their visas and disappear inside the country.

With determination and assistance from the private sector, the federal government could quickly implement a security risk-management system that employs digitized identity cards with biometric identifiers. Until then, however, we would do well to stop granting entry to noncitizens from countries that have demonstrated they harbor ill will against America until we can locate the foreign visitors already here.

Jack Kemp is co-director of Empower America and Distinguished Fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Comment by clicking here.


03/19/02: California's newest citizen politician
03/06/02: Peaceful relations or public relations?
02/27/02: American trade policy at war with itself
02/20/02: Three-conjecture strategy on global warming
02/14/02: Nurturing democratic capitalism in Afghanistan
02/06/02: Gephardt embraces tax cuts and tax simplification
01/30/02: Just the facts
01/22/02: 'Been down so long it looks like up to me'
01/15/02: Confronting terror wherever it occurs
01/09/02: Daschle's war on Bush
01/03/02: Prosperity policies, not partisan politics
12/27/01: Governments create calamity, markets get the blame
12/18/01: 'Tis the season for Daschle to compromise
12/12/01: Hard choices made simple
12/05/01: Straight talk on Iraq
11/28/01: Not all tax cuts are created equal
11/20/01: Words have consequences
11/15/01: Deflationary recession
11/07/01: Consider Mideast reality in the war on terrorism
10/30/01: No 'stimulus' required
10/23/01: Good out of evil
10/16/01: Watching Iraq
10/12/01: The putrid stench of evil
10/04/01: Trade, terror and truth
10/01/01: Drive this scourge from the face of the Earth
09/25/01: Bush emerges as leader for his time
09/06/01: Middle East Madness has a chief instigator
08/30/01: It's about economic growth, stupid!
08/22/01: Phlebotomizers at the IMF
08/17/01: The Greenspan Recession
08/08/01: From Kyoto to Bonn, no science equals nonsense
07/25/01: Fiddling while the world economy freezes
07/19/01: Schundler should be New Jersey's next governor
07/12/01: Second wind for the global economy
07/06/01: An interest-rate target with no bull's-eye
06/28/01: Tax harmonization --- American-style
06/21/01: Warming diplomacy --- at what price?
06/13/01: A party that stands for nothing deserves to lose
06/07/01: No peace in the Middle East
05/30/01: Jeffords' palace coup
05/24/01: A supply-side energy plan
05/16/01: Getting Lincoln right
05/10/01: A good reason to borrow
05/01/01: Supreme Court makes racial profiling the law of the land
04/26/01: Campaign finance reform: silencing the lambs
04/17/01: Right wanted might in China case
04/12/01: How minority entrepreneurs can save the tax cut
04/04/01: Whose privacy is it?
03/29/01: A letter from Seoul
03/20/01: Ignore the double talk and double the tax cuts
03/13/01: Don't give up the bully pulpit on Social Security, Mr. President
03/06/01: Another attack on the economy
02/28/01: It's time to end deflation
02/21/01: Building blocks of humanity
02/15/01: Trumping the propaganda
02/06/01: The Gipper at 90
01/30/01: Kicking off a season of economic growth
01/24/01: The Bush tax agenda
01/17/01: Debating the Clinton legacy
01/10/01: No need for another Social Security commission
01/03/01: Truly a Golden Age, if we can keep it
12/27/00: The Grinch who turned off the holiday lights
12/20/00: Forging ahead
12/13/00: A new tax system for the 21st Century
12/07/00: Global government in retreat
11/30/00: An open letter to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan
11/21/00: Don't forget the guy in charge
11/15/00: Civic virtue, civic vice
11/08/00: Memo to the president-elect
10/31/00: Scare tactics won't work
10/24/00: Prosperity in the balance
10/11/00: Al Gore's economics of fear
10/03/00: Al Gore IS debatable
09/27/00: Government should protect our online privacy
09/13/00: The most important issue
09/05/00: Defeating the Gore blitz
08/29/00: Workers of the world, rejoice
08/22/00: Just the facts, Mr. President
08/08/00: Reclaiming Lincoln's legacy
06/23/00: A renaissance for urban America?
06/16/00: Capital access can bridge 'digital divide'
06/08/00: Some friendly advice for Rick Lazio
05/26/00: Is the economy being saved or destroyed?
05/22/00: Immigration and the promise that is America
05/12/00: Stock market roulette or snobbery?
05/04/00: Is Rule of Law whatever we say it is?
05/01/00: Myths happen

© 2002, Copley News Service