Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Open Invitation to Terror

The GAO testified today before the Senate Finance Committee about its latest attempt to use fraudulent documents to gain enty into the United States. Eighteen times, at nine border crossings, undercover investigators managed to enter the United States from Mexico or Canada with fake driver's licenses and birth certificates without challenge. A couple of times the border inspectors didn't even bother to ask for i.d. Believe it or not, inspectors aren't required to demand proof from those who claim U.S. citizenship; an oral statement to this effect is sufficient. And, when inspectors do ask for i.d., there's no assurance that fake documents will be spotted. For one thing, some 8,000 different forms of i.d. are permitted to be used to establish U.S. citizenship. Needless to say, most inspectors aren't familiar with more than a handful of such documents. Until all those attempting to enter the United States (including those who claim to be Americans returning home) from anywhere in the world (including places elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere) are required to present one standardized, tamper-proof, biometrics-based form of i.d. (a passport), our country will be easier for terrorists to penetrate than it should be. Such a requirement has been legislated, but it is not slated to go into effect until 2008. Will terrorists wait until then to strke again?