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U.S.

Department of Justice s i , ;* j< "--

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Washington, D. C. 20535-0001

May 21, 2003

Mr. John Brummet


Assistant Director
U.S. General Accounting Office
441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, B.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Brummet:


In your letter to me dated February 4, 2003, you
state that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House
Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans
Affairs and International Relations, have asked the General
Accounting Office (GAO) for more information about 105 visas
revoked by the Department of State (DOS) on July 19, 22 and
24, 2002, and the role of the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task
Force (FTTTF) in the development and conveyance of derogatory
information to DOS about those 105 visas.
As you may know, I assumed the position of Director
of the FTTTF in October 2002. The FTTTF did not receive new
Visa Condor cables for processing after June 26, 2002. The
FTTTF did agree to assist in the processing of 19,194 visa
Security Advisory Opinions (SAO) requests to eliminate the
backlog and did so between April and June, 2002. The
responses to your questions are based upon the reconstruction
from electronic files and master lists.
The FTTTF's assistance to the FBI regarding Visa
Condors, temporarily helped the FBI eliminate a large
processing backlog of SAO requests that accumulated during the
first quarter of 2002 concerning visa applications that
occurred because those FBI Headquarter components responsible
for the review of the SAOs were focused on the ongoing
investigations and threats. Once the visa requests were
obtained with results of searches against the FBI's central
index system, and checked by the FTTTF against its
Mr. John Brummet

internal data base of derogatory terrorism information


obtained from a variety of government sources, the FTTTF
electronically (by e-mail) notified the DOS that the FBI had
"no objection" to issuance of each such visa. In those few
cases where a tentative match could not be conclusively
dispelled, the DOS agreed to resubmit those visa requests a
second time to the FBI for regular visa SAO processing. The
delays inherent in the temporary processing of this large
backlog resulted in 105 visas being revoked by DOS out of an
abundance of caution until each of the necessary SAO's, nearly
all of which turned out to be negative, were addressed.

In addition, the records reflect that only 88 of the


105 visa applicants who had their visa revoked and about which
you are now inquiring appear on the 19,194 master name list of
visas processed by the FTTTF. The 17 visa applicants on your
list who do not appear on the FTTTF master processing list
are, as identified by the numbering system employed on the GAO
list attached to your letter: Nos. 5, 10, 12, 19, 38, 42, 49,
53, 65, 69, 70, 75, 79, 94, 100, 104 and 105. As a result, we
have located no information in the relevant FTTTF files about
these applicants. Nevertheless, based on the identification
of these visa applicants in your letter, we have determined
that eight of them (Nos. 12, 19, 38, 49, 65, 69, 94 and 105)
are not referenced in applicable records that we or the FBI
utilize and would have resulted in a "no objection" response
by the FBI to their visa application. As to the other nine
individuals whose visa applications were never forwarded to
the FTTTF, a more detailed SAO would have been necessary
before a tentative name match could be confirmed or "cleared,"
i.e., rejected.

Question 1. What was the process for, and extent of, the
FTTTF's Condor checks for these applicants? For example, did
the task force complete name checks? If so, what databases
and indices did it use?

Answer: After the FBI's National Name Check Unit (NNCU)


processed a cable by searching the information in the FBI's
central index system, the result (either "no record" or a
possible matching record in FBI files) was passed to the FTTTF
with the original DOS cable information. With regard to each
of the 88 visa requests in this group of 105 that were passed
to the FTTTF, the applicant's data was searched against
databases available to the FTTTF. The various FTTTF databases
and indices used have been described more fully in FTTTF's
classified congressional briefings. FTTTF personnel reviewed
the context of any possible matching records in FBI files to
Mr. John Brummet

determine if, in fact, the name was identical to a file


reference, and further, whether or not the file reference
supported an SAO that the visa applicant was risk to the
security of the United States if a visa were to be issued.
The result of these additional checks and the accompanying
analytical follow up that either "clears" or confirms any
tentative match, is that the FTTTF has concluded that there
was "no objection" to 82 of the 88 names on the list. Of the
six remaining applicants, given the time that had elapsed, and
in view of the newly-established procedures in place for SAO
processing within the FBI, DOS representatives agreed in a
meeting with me on January 24, 2003, to resubmit those names
to the FBI under the current procedure. Those applicant names
appear on the GAO list as Nos. 4, 16, 45, 50, and 74.
The other applicant on your list, No. 85, involves
an alien who, prior to issuance of the Visa Condor,
unsuccessfully appealed the loss of his permanent resident
alien status on account of a "sham marriage" in the Federal
Courts. After losing and then abandoning his appeal to avoid
being deported, he traveled to Canada from whence he filed his
request for a nonimmigrant visa that was transmitted to us as
a Visa Condor. Thereafter, in late March 2002, he was
identified as an "absconder" and stopped trying to cross into
the U.S. at the Canadian border. His visa was revoked at that
time. I am informed that he has been the subject of
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now the Bureau
of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, attention both before
and after the issuance of his Condor visa, and INS information
available to us reflects that he was not able to use that visa
to successfully enter the U.S. during the short time period
that the visa was valid.
2. What information did the FTTTF develop on each applicant?
Why did the task force recommend that the State Department
deny visas to these individuals? Please provide the
derogatory information on each applicant for our review.

Answer: The FTTTF operated on the assumption that when DOS


both issued and later revoked the 105 visa requests, none of
these 105 names had finished being processed. As explained
above, of the 88 applications processed by the FTTTF, 82 were
cleared by the FTTTF, and DOS agreed to resubmit to the FBI
the 5 others that could not be cleared or confirmed by the
FTTTF. No derogatory data was passed along by the FTTTF in
any of these 87 cases, other than that they had not yet been
cleared. The other case on the list, No. 85, involves an
alien involved in a sham marriage whose situation was known to
the INS, which both refused him admission into the U.S. and
Mr. John Brummet

cancelled his visa, shortly before the revocation of his


Condor visa. While this derogatory information was noted by
the FTTTF, it was not new information to the alien's file and
it was not developed by the FTTTF.
3. On what date, and how, did the FTTTF transmit this
derogatory information to the State Department? Please
provide documentation of the transmittal. To what extent, and
on what date, did the task force share this information with
other U.S. government agencies, including the INS and other
FBI departments?

Answer: As noted in answer to question 2, no new derogatory


information was transmitted.

4. State Department officials told us that the FTTTF has


subsequently cleared a number of individuals on the attached
list of applicants. They said that the task force no longer
believes these individuals pose a security risk. Which
individuals on the list, if any, has the task force cleared?
When, and through what means, was the State Department
notified of this information?

Answer: As explained above, FTTTF record checks reflect that


there is "no objection" to visas for 82 of the 105 individuals
on the GAO list. In addition and as noted above, 17 persons
on the list do not appear to have had their information
submitted to the FTTTF (Nos. 5, 10, 12, 19, 38, 42, 49, 53,
65, 69, 70, 75, 79, 94, 100, 104 and 105, however at least 8
of them would have been quickly cleared). DOS has agreed to
resubmit 5 of the 88 visa applications to the FBI for
processing under its regular procedures (Nos. 4, 16, 45, 50,
and 74); and we understand that 1 individual (No. 85) has had
his visa revoked by the INS. During the last half of 2002,
DOS was notified of this information by means of electronic
messages listing thousands of visas applicants as to whom the
FTTTF had "no objection," among whom many of the applicants on
the GAO's list of 105 names were included.

5. When, if at all, did the State Department notify the FTTTF


that these individuals had already been issued a visa? What
actions did the task force take to ensue that holders of the
revised visas did not enter the United States and to
investigate, locate, and, if appropriate, remove those who
already had entered?

Answer: No records have been located that identify the dates


when DOS first notified the FTTTF that each of these 105
individuals had been issued a visa. However, after this
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information became known to the FTTTF, the FTTTF ensured that


the INS members of the FTTTF were made aware of the issue, for
whatever action would be appropriate by the INS, in
coordination with the DOS, in accordance with all applicable
laws and regulations. In this regard, we are informed that
the appropriate lookouts were and still remain posted for all
the uncleared persons described in this letter. At this time,
the FTTTF is not in possession of investigative case
information that would associate any of these eight persons
with terrorism activity, or otherwise indicate that they pose
a specific threat to the security of the United States. In
these circumstances and consistent with their overall
responsibilities, I understand that the law enforcement
officials most directly affected have concluded that the
lookouts posted with border authorities are the appropriate
actions to be taken, absent the development of any derogatory
information.
Sincerely yours,

Mark A. Tanner
Director
Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force