Was the Christmas bomber a Frank amendment terrorist?
By Charles Morse
Congress had made it illegal to deny visas to members of terrorist groups. So stated Clinton Administration CIA Director R. James Woolsey, describing the Frank amendment, in an interview for a Wall Street Journal review of Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 by Gerald Posner. Sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) the 1990 Frank amendment struck the exclusion clause from the Immigration and Nationality Act. The exclusion clause gave the US government the right to deny visas to foreigners who were known to or who were suspected of harboring anti-American views or associating with anti-American groups. The exclusion clause was restored after the catastrophe of September 11, 2001.
The September 11th hijackers had been granted visas thanks to the Frank amendment. In Why America Slept, Posner wrote, "Congressman Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who was a strong advocate of protecting civil liberties, led a successful effort to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act so that membership in a terrorist group was no longer sufficient to deny a visa."After its passage the government was legally prevented from denying visas to potential terrorists unless there was proof that the applicant had been involved in "terrorist activities." This raised the bar to a virtually impossible standard as, under the Frank amendment, it would have been difficult to prove that Osama bin Laden was involved in "terrorist activities." The 9/11 hijackers, while operating under the color of the new law obtained travel and student visas and attended flight school.
The US government had retained the right to deny visas to real or perceived foreign enemies going back to the Adams administration, a right that all nations retain for obvious reasons. In the same way that an individual retains the right to decide who is welcome into their place of residence, a basic right that is protected by law, the government, indeed all governments, had a right to decide who visited the national homeland. This moral and practical principle had been a settled part of international law and custom going back to time immemorial.
The basic purpose of the exclusion clause was, however, apparently lost on Barney Frank who has often been described as one of the smartest men in Congress. Frank stated that he sponsored his amendment, which struck the exclusion clause out of the immigration act, so that Columbian communist novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of My Melancholy Whores, could tour elite colleges. Frank could have chosen to sponsor the harmless Marquez book tour himself as a member of Congress. Instead he chose to strike down the exclusion clause altogether which swung open the door to terrorists.
After the Frank Amendment became law in 1990, and until it was repealed in 2001, America was flooded with foreign anti-Semites, racists, and terrorists who raised funds for overseas "charities," delivered speeches, recruited new members, and eventually engaged in "terrorist activities" on 9/11. In the Newton Tab, columnist Tom Mountain wrote in an article entitled "Barney Frank's role in 9/11: Between 1981 and 2001":
In an article on his congressional website, "Barney Frank's Views on the Terrorism Bill", Frank explained that the US citizens right to free speech was impinged when we exclude people because we find their political views unpopular, unsettling, or dangerous. It appears that Frank sought to extend constitutional rights protecting the freedom of expression for Americans to the entire world. He apparently thought that there was something progressive about foreigners having the right to come to America to express the same hateful views that, if applied to American citizens, might be considered as hate crimes. In the article Frank rails against a renewal of some restrictions on people whom Americans should continue to have a right to hear if they so choose. In 1995, Frank voted against a congressional attempt to modify the Frank amendment because he felt that advocating "sedition" should not be grounds to deny a foreigner a visa.
So no, the Christmas bomber was not technically a Frank amendment terrorist. That law, one of the biggest blunders of the past century, has been repealed so it was possible for the US government to deny entry to Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the Jihadist who rigged his underwear with enough explosives to blow Northwest Airlines flight 253 out of the sky. Yet the spirit of the Frank amendment is alive and well. Our government still appears to be paralyzed when it comes to denying entry to foreigners at airports or at any other point of entry for any reason.
Visiting this or any nation is a privilege not a right. Our government has not repudiated the misguided policies that led to 19 visa carrying terrorists killing 3000 Americans on American soil on 9/11. Rather than going after potential terrorists at airports without apology, as the Israelis do, our government finds it more convenient to penalize the rest of us with humiliating body scans, rules that forbid us to go to the bathroom before the plane lands, and other laws that seem to be conditioning us for a time when we might be asked to surrender more of our freedoms in the name of security.
Charles A. Morse is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right and can be heard every day from 9:00am to 11:00am on WSMN in Nashua. His web site can be found at http://www.chuckmorse.com/ and his blog is located at http://www.morsescode.com/.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!