My Word for October 19, 2001

I got a lot of mail from people who agreed with me about pulling visas for visitors from Middle Eastern countries.

I also got some that said I was a racist and that I was trying to start a new millenium pogrom against Arabs or Muslims, essentially revoking the rights of citizens who happen to be Arabs and/or Muslims.

Not so.

Let's repeat this. This is about visas. Visitors who are students, tourists or business people. Not citizens.

I think anybody from suspect countries who is here on a visa — a visitor's permit to the U.S. — should be required to report in tomorrow. Why? So the U.S. government can look at them again, and — at the very least — ensure that he or she can be easily located.

This is so authorities can find people they may come to believe are part of terror cells. Right now, we're looking for several hundred.

Look, I did business today with a Moroccan-American named Abdellah. I have no reason to believe he is anything other than a loyal American. Nobody should bother Abdellah other than checking his ID, which happens to all of us these days.

The point is that the 19 hijackers were here on visas. We have reason to believe that other cell members are here on visas as well.

Now, we're thinking we'd be better off knowing where these visitors are, who they are, what they're doing, what they're saying to each other.

Here's a visa fact. According to a recent book on Usama bin Laden, the terror mastermind's number two guy came to the U.S. on a visa, toured the country, raised funds and picked targets. Sure he used a phoney name and a bogus passport, but once he got by the wide-open visa process, he was free to wander America.

As reported in the New York Times ... in Saudi Arabia the schools teach anti-Western thought. If those students come here, they arrive already filled with hate, even if they smile and wave little American flags.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia refuse to provide our Customs service with electronic lists of who is on a plane coming into the country. Consequently, there is no way for Customs to know which passengers may be on watch list until they're already in America.

Once again, despite the fact that one of the embassy bombers sentenced was a citizen, the 19 hijackers were visa people. It's the visitors doing this stuff to us, not the Arab or Muslim citizens.

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