While the United States pounds on countries in the Caribbean for their Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programs, the Kushner family – yes, THAT Kushner family – seems to have no problem selling American visas to the Chinese. That’s the message Jared Kushner’s sister delivered to a ballroom filled with wealthy Chinese investors.
Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa.
The CBI programs in the Caribbean are particularly problematic, rife with corruption and fraud, and permissive as long as you have the cash. Countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN), Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, and Dominica afford rich foreigners an opportunity to invest in their economies, whether through real estate or an investment in a business, government, or “development fund.” Once an investor plops down several hundred thousand dollars, they can be issued a passport, enjoy visa-free travel to nations in the Schengen Zone or the United States, and other perks – sometimes with very little scrutiny.
Care to guess how much fraud is involved, especially since many of these island nations compete among one another for potential investors, and millions of dollars? Care to guess how much due diligence really goes on when millions of dollars in investments are at stake?
SKN, for example, came under scrutiny a couple of years ago after some Iranian sanctions evaders got visas, allowing them to travel to Canada. Care to guess how easy it is to cross the border from Canada to the United States?
The United States expressed concern about the Caribbean CBI programs as recently as last year, urging these nations to exercise due diligence to ensure that sanctions evaders, transnational organized crime members, and terrorists don’t use their programs to obtain passports and visas.
Hell, one of the relatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is Antigua’s representative in Syria, and the nation’s nutjob Prime Minister Browne admitted to CBS this year that “Syria is one of the areas in which we have had some concerns but did not place it on a restricted list.”
So while the United States expresses concerns about sketchy characters buying Caribbean passports for visa-free travel, the family of the President’s Senior Advisor is selling them to China. The tagline on a brochure for the investor event in Beijing, according to the Post was, “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”
And worse yet, Kushner’s sister was actually touting the White House connection at the conference!
The tone deafness of this woman is unreal!
I’m fairly sure she didn’t come right out and say that if these wealthy Chinese invest half a million bucks into Kushner properties, they’d have an in – a Kushner family member in the White House. I’m sure that’s not what she meant. I hope.
But when you trumpet the fact that the CEO of your company is currently a senior advisor in the White House, what else is one supposed to think?
Damn straight, there are ethical implications when the sister of the company’s CEO, whether intentionally or not, uses her connections to the White House to attract business!
And damn straight, it’s problematic when the EB-5 visa program that allows wealthy investors to essentially buy their way into the United States was set to expire last month, was extended with the President’s signature until the end of the fiscal year, and is promoted by the President’s in-laws, urging Chinese investors to quickly buy into it before its expiration!
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is currently considering changes to the program. The former SOUTHCOM Commander, I am sure, is very aware of the types of problems CBI programs faced in the Caribbean, given the fact that the region falls squarely in SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility. I’m sure Secretary Kelly is aware of the corruption that makes the CBI programs very lucrative for the governments of those countries and keep due diligence down to a minimum, if not absent at all.
So how is it that the Kushner family didn’t see their actions as a problem?
How is it that they didn’t view promoting their personal business by touting an obviously and publicly problematic program, and bragging about their White House connections to Chinese investors, while barring the press from attending the event, as troublesome in any way?
How is it that while the United States issues public warnings about CBI programs elsewhere, the Kushners are hypocritically using their White House connections to sell America to the Chinese?
How is it that they didn’t see a problem with selling American immigration to rich investors from a country that engaged in egregious hacking activities against the United States?
We are living in Animal Farm, people, and the media is focused on how much ice cream 45 eats. Good lord!
A few days after the deadly Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris, the Obama Administration vigorously defended its refugee screening process as “rigorous and safe.”
Nothing like this could happen here in the United States, right?
Until it did.
Not even a month later, two terrorists went on a shooting spree in San Bernardino. At the time (and now as well) we blogged that the attack was likely a case of premature detonation – that a bigger attack was planned, and that the two Islamists went on an early shooting spree after the male lost his temper at an office party.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if a bigger attack was planned, although if we were correct, we were lucky in that we avoided a lot more carnage, because Syed Farook couldn’t keep his temper in check. But what does matter is that the Administration’s assertions about its refugee screening process being “rigorous and safe” is apparently nonsense.
On December 16 – a couple of weeks after the San Bernardino attack – the Hill ran a column by a retired Department of Homeland Security explained how that same screening process failed the San Bernardino victims and failed America.
Philip Haney was a targeter at DHS who worked to identify terrorist networks and “connect the dots” between lesser known groups and individuals moving about and operating freely in the United States. He and his colleagues focused on individuals, mosques, Islamic Centers and schools involved in radicalization efforts – mosques such as the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque in San Bernardino where Farook worshiped and was well-known to the congregation and leadership. And probably mosques such as the infamous Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, located just a couple of miles from my house, where the thankfully droned into oblivion Anwar al-Awlaki spewed his poison.
Haney had these types of groups in his sights, including the Islamist group al-Huda.
Another focus of my investigation was the Pakistani women’s Islamist group al-Huda, which counted Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, as a student. While the al-Huda International Welfare Foundation distanced themselves from the actions of their former pupil, Malik’s classmates told the Daily Mail she changed significantly while studying at al-Huda, gradually becoming “more serious and strict.” More ominously, the group’s presence in the U.S. and Canada is not without its other ties to ISIS and terrorism. In 2014, three recent former students at al-Huda’s affiliate school in Canada, aged 15 to 18, left their homes to join the Islamic State in Syria.
Haney says between Farook’s involvement with the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque in San Bernardino and Malik’s involvement with al-Huda, the dots would have been connected, and additional scrutiny would have at the very least been indicated; maybe it would have led to a denial of Malik’s K-1 visa, or even gotten Farook placed on the No Fly list, perhaps in time to stop the attack, but that was not to be.
DHS shut down the investigation at the request of the Department of State and DHS’ own Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division. They claimed that since the Islamist groups in question were not Specially Designated Terrorist Organizations (SDTOs) tracking individuals related to these groups was a violation of the travelers’ civil liberties.
Islamist groups, who need to be thoroughly investigated before being placed on the list, were barred from investigation because they’re not on the list. Well, that makes all the sense in the world.
Do you feel safe yet?
Worse yet, DHS went back and deleted all the records of Haney’s investigation, and after the latter brought his concern to the Inspector General, as well as several members of Congress, he was subjected to adverse actions and investigations, even though his work was exemplary, as detailed in this letter of commendation he received in June 2012. Thankfully, none of retaliatory investigations found any wrongdoing, and Haney was allowed to honorably retire from government service.
But the story doesn’t end there. Or rather, it doesn’t start there.
Remember the Crotch Bomber? Right before the unhinged jihadist tried to blow up a plane with an explosive packed in his panties, but instead set his own genitals on fire prior to being captured, DHS went on a record and research scrubbing spree.
Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.” Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns. Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database.
A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack. While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to “connect the dots” in the future—especially before an attack occurs.
Who knows how many attacks could have been prevented had the DHS been allowed to continue its work?
No one does, because political considerations apparently trump national security in our country.
Look, there’s a very fine line between invasion of privacy and infringements on individual rights. The U.S. national security apparatus and the dedicated, committed people who work in our intelligence community and law enforcement walk that line carefully and diligently every day. An untold amount of work is done by the inter-agency before any individual or entity is sanctioned as a terrorist, or gets placed on the Specially Designated Nationals list. Legal review, leadership review, coordination with other agencies in the government. Placing an individual or entity on the SDN list is no joke, unlike some… other lists we’ve seen.
Intelligence professionals have to go through massive amounts of training. They have to learn how to safeguard personal information, whom they are allowed to collect on, what to report and how to report violations, and other agency-specific training to ensure that the rights of the people are balanced with the need to protect our nation. Their analyses are constantly challenged. Did you consider alternatives? Was your assessment based on a variety of corroborative sources? Were these sources credible? Given the fiasco that ensued after the now infamous Iraq WMD National Intelligence Estimate was published in 2002, and the subsequent Iraq invasion, it is no surprise that the Intelligence Community is much more cautious about its tradecraft.
This is all necessary, there’s no doubt. The rights of the people have to be protected.
But at the same time, ordering law enforcement and the intelligence community to scrub years of investigative research into violent extremists with obvious links to savage jihadists whose goal is to launch attacks against the United States, because they might somehow disturb a political narrative or result in some nebulous alleged “violations” of someone’s rights, is a dangerous policy. Fact is that researching a mosque’s, a group’s, or an individual’s links to terrorist organizations violates no one’s rights. If law enforcement is not allowed to do said research, or if said research is nixed due to political considerations, this nation is in danger.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, a rigorous review by the 9-11 commission revealed that lack of information sharing was partially responsible for our failure to prevent the attacks, as was not watchlisting future hijackers and not trailing them after they traveled to Bangkok, and not informing the FBI about one future hijacker’s U.S. visa.
But that’s not all the report revealed. The commission’s findings also said we did not discover fraudulent statements made on visa applications and failed to detect fake passports.
The work Haney and his colleagues were doing would likely have been helpful in identifying terrorist links, and if shared with other agencies, would have probably helped prevent future attacks. But instead DHS was ordered by the Administration to toss out its research. It will not be shared with anyone, and that could result in disaster.
Apparently, this administration has learned nothing.
Do you feel safe yet?
Originally posted at The Bull Elephant.
A couple weeks back, I laid out my vision on the immigration issue. No amnesty, border security, one set of rules for everyone. Pretty straightforward stuff, even mostly endorsing a plan put forward by a Republican Liberty Caucus national board member.
Sadly, RLC National has gone ahead and released a plan that panders to Hispanics and apologists for illegals, with a supporting op-ed in the Examiner by RLC National Chairman Dave Nalle. I should point out that this is likely the only significant national issue where I disagree with Dave; however, this issue is very significant. I will urge the RLCVA state board to oppose this plan.
Amnesty now will be like the 1986 amnesty times ten, and there still won’t be any border security. We’ve seen this movie before. Washington will spend more energy coming up with a hundred excuses why they can’t secure the border than it would take to actually do so. No amnesty. If you’re illegal, go home and go to the back of the line, whether you entered illegally or overstayed a visa. No whining, no excuses.
Right now, the President is trying, along with Dianne Feinstein and the other usual suspects, to push legislation that would further abrogate our Second Amendment rights. Most Republicans in Congress are finding their courage, despite the bizarre sideshow that is Piers Morgan, and standing up to this to one degree or another.
But we’re not here to talk about that, at least not this evening. No, the focus is on the subject of the other great push about to be made by (most) Democrats and (some) Republicans, ‘comprehensive immigration reform’, aka AMNESTY. Yes, kids, that’s what it’s called when you reward people for illegal behavior. And make no mistake, when you let people who have entered the United States illegally stay, pay their kids’ college tuition, and make it possible for them to gain citizenship, you are REWARDING that behavior. The President will team up with Democrats and RINOs in Congress like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who tried this in 2006-07 and were shocked when the people rose up and made it clear they weren’t having any of this. Now, the usual suspects say, the political environment is different. Republicans supposedly need to bow down, give up their principles, and pursue the Hispanic vote by offering them special privileges, free stuff, and amnesty, as the “Cafe Con Leche Republicans” insist.
Like hell. As I stated after the election, the LAST thing we need to be doing is rolling over. This will allow the left to import more third-world collectivists who will vote for the nanny state and handouts and strain our health care system and infrastructure even more. These people also may not share our culture. Libertarians might be apoplectic at this idea, and that’s fine. What they’re missing, as Ilana Mercer put it, is the civilizational aspect to libertarianism. In their rush to see who score the highest on libertarian purity tests, they’re missing the place where purist neolibertarian philosophy crumbles when it comes into contact with reality. Immigration is one such area. Aaron Alghawi, a national board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, has come up with what I consider a reasonable starting point for a pro-liberty immigration platform. It’s lacking in two areas. Firstly, we need to secure the border in a serious and sustained fashion. A wall/fence with vehicle barriers and geophones from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. No excuses. Second, everyone here illegally should have to go ‘home’ and get in line behind everyone else and apply for re-entry. Again, no excuses. No one gets treated any better or worse, and no one gets a break because of whom they know. This will meet with opposition from many libertarians, including much of the RLC national leadership. So be it. As the Virginia state chair of the RLC, I’ll fight to see such a platform on this issue adopted at our national convention in a few months.
Purist libertarians will call me racist, classist, nativist, etc. That’s fine. Bring it on. I’m ready. My policy prescriptions here are buttressed by reality. Rhetoric doesn’t scare me, whether it comes from the left, or from libertarians of one stripe or another. As such, I proclaim it is the duty of every patriot to prevent ANY immigration policy from becoming law that gives amnesty, retards enforcement of existing immigration law, or gives out privileges or rewards to those here illegally. And please… stop referring to illegal aliens as ‘undocumented’ and the like. It just makes you look cowardly, and worse, politically correct.