If you’ve been following our series of posts on the State Department’s meeting next week to help them determine the size and scope of our refugee resettlement program for FY2014, this is one more in a series of statements that readers have sent to me for publication. Unfortunately, the deadline for sending testimony was this past Wednesday. But, heck if you are just seeing this for the first time, send some comments anyway and send a copy to your US Senators and Congressman (instructions here).
Incidentally, anything you send to Congress right now should reference S.744 (The Gang of Eight plus Grover bill), because the bill will provide more refugees and more funding to the federal refugee contractors, here.
Here is the testimony sent this week relating to security screening for refugees. Mr. Tenney appears to have some experience in the matter of how the Tsarnaev brothers went undetected before their terrorist act on April 15th:
Ms. Anne Richard
Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration
US State Department
Washington, DC. 20520
c/o Delicia Spruell
Fax (202) 453-9393.
Reference Federal Register Public Notice 8241
Dear Ms. Anne Richard,
I am writing to submit written comments on the President’s FY 2014 U.S. Refugee Admissions Program as part of the upcoming May 15 public hearing in Washington, DC. Sadly, the refugee and asylum resettlement programs have become overtly corrupt and harmful to America.
Please accept my comment against further refugee and asylum cases because the US security services are unable to handle even the existing load. Some limitations, in my opinion, of the US security services are pointed out below.
1. US security personnel are often unable to repeat foreign or historical names in an interview
when they are told to them.
2. US security personnel have a limited number of foreign names they know. Even names such as Boris Berezovsky they don’t know.
3. US security personnel can not understand legal cases relating to a foreign country such as US v. Harvard, Shleifer and Hay.
4. US security personnel do not understand the IMF and don’t understand its role or resentments to it
in Russia or Chechnya or in many other countries. US security personnel do not understand that the IMF is often
blamed in countries for austerity policies. Anything the IMF does they blame on the US.
5. They do not understand in practice that in foreign countries such as Chechnya and Russia, the people
consider police, prosecutors to be part of rigging cases to protect government.
6. They do not understand that foreigners carry this attitudes over to the US.
7. They do not understand that foreigners have crossed a mental threshold in their
own country of killing or being killed based on identity not whether a person from another group
is a potential ally.
8. They don’t know about the 1999 apartment bombing case in Moscow or that Chechens view that
case as rigged with police, prosecutors involved in rigging it. They don’t know this
attitude carries over to the US.
9. They do not follow high profile legal cases in Moscow and can’t relate those to Chechens.
10. They do not have a basic knowledge of high profile events in Russia in 1990s.
11. They can’t relate Russian history in 1990s to IMF loans to First and Second Chechen wars.
12. They can’t understand Chechen resentments towards US for support of Russia in second Chechen war
as Chechens see it.
13. They are not aware of Dzhokhar Dudayev or that he was born on April 15, 1944 and that April 15, 2013 Boston
Marathon was on anniversary. The Wiki article on Dudayev was not corrected on the birth date of Dudayev
until several days after the bombing, as seen from the history.
14. They take what they are told at face value because they lack the domain knowledge to challenge it
or even discuss it.
15. They are reduced to trying to push or provoke a person to see how they react.
16. Security personnel can become frustrated by their lack of knowledge and inability
to learn the relevant history and names. This leads to them giving up even trying
to do their job.
17. Security personnel are not familiar with historical cases such as Klaus Fuchs, Rosenbergs, etc.
and unable to relate what Russia does today to what they did then.
18. Security personnel do not correlate common plan or method evidence
for Russian actions in past cases to their actions today.
19. Security personnel do not understand or have an interest in the
cooperation between the Russian intelligence service and professors at
Russian universities or Russian profs in US, even ones with joint appointments
in Russia and US simultaneously. These professors often have a deep and extensive
knowledge of US institutions and individuals that is valuable to the Russian
intelligence service. Cooperation between US profs and US security services
is no where as extensive or as deep, and is close to non-existent.
20. US Security personnel are unable to interpret warnings from the Russian government
in light of a knowledge of history in Russia during the last 20 years, or Russia’s
relation to IMF, to Chechen wars or to professors at MIT and Harvard involved
in these events or from Russia.
21. US Security personnel are unable to learn basic information on the links
of Russian government officials, financial firms, academics, IMF and World Bank to each
other or to Chechen history in the last 20 years.
22. US Security personnel are no where near as well informed as Matt Taibbi about Russia and have
no feel for the Russian pulse as indicated in publications like eXile.ru.
23. US security personnel typically do not have community library cards at
local universities and do not use them to gain basic education in these countries.
24. Nor do US security personnel even see why they should.
25. If the rate of violence increased in the US, the security personnel would be
at almost zero learning curve to understand the groups here, their relation
to their home country government, and who in the US they resent and why they would
target them. This includes former US government employees, IMF and World Bank employees
current or past, corporate current or past, and academics.
26. In fact, even current US government employees outside of the security departments
would not receive protection or even the comprehension by the security services
of why particular US government employees would be targets based on resentments
from these countries.
27. The low level of understanding of security personnel forces in US of
these countries, their history, and of the American institutions role in them and
resentments arising from this mean that they are completely unable to do any
threat assessment or protection of current or former US government officials
who may be the target of resentments of people from such countries.
28. Because of their low level of understanding, lack of knowledge of names,
and of history, if there was a rise in such incidents, the security personnel
would not be able to learn or advance up the learning curve to even do threat assessment
of specific employees of the US government, past or present, who might be targets
of foreign individuals or groups in the US because of the current or past actions
of US government, institutions such as IMF and World Bank, or of US corporations.
29. Moreover, the security personnel see no reason why they should even learn
this. If they have tried to learn it they have given up.
30. There is no effective institutional concept in the security services to make such learning
part of their job. there is no high stakes testing for security personnel, simply
an apathy to this aspect of their work.
31. US security personnel are unable to conduct effect interviews of people such
as Tsarnaev because of the ignorance and apathy of the US security personnel to
these countries, their history, their interaction with rivals such as Russia and China,
and their resentments towards US institutions and individuals arising from this.
32. US security personnel believe they can substitute just looking at a person
or facial expressions for knowledge of the people, history and relationships of a country.
33. US security personnel will substitute trying to challenge a person to see
if they react with hostility or fly off the handle. if they don’t, they pass.
US security personnel lack the knowledge to engage the person in a substantive
discussion of their country, its history, its relation to US, to US institutions,
to international institutions such as IMF and World Bank, or to US banks or corporations.
34. US security personnel do not believe they need such knowledge to interview
suspects but can rely solely on street smarts or interview skills completely absent
of any knowledge of these matters. This results in failure for interviews by
us security personnel because of this overconfidence in their interview skills and
complete apathy to learning substantial matters that are the basis of the actions
of people coming to the US.
35. Thus even when a foreign country like Russia tips the US security personnel
to a person like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they lack the knowledge or interest to engage
the person on the history of their country, their beefs with America, their resentments,
or who specifically in the US may be linked to such resentments and thus a potential
target. this includes an inability to protect current or former US government personnel,
or those of international institutions such as IMF and World Bank, private US corporations,
banks, academics or others.
36 Even after an incident occurs, US security personnel are unable to understand
that their overconfidence in their interview skills and lack of basic knowledge
of the country and its interactions with the US led to their failed threat assessments
and past investigative failures.
37. Because US security personnel lack an awareness of this connection and in
fact demonstrate total apathy to such awareness, they are unable to remedy their
lack of basic knowledge.
38. US security personnel after an incident simply believe their street smarts and
interview skills will lead them to avoid a failure in the future without their
ever being aware their prior interviews failed because of their lack of basic
knowledge of the country and its interactions with the US.
39. Thus US security personnel manifest no awareness of their need to learn
the history of Russia and Chechnya in the 1990s, or to understand the role
of IMF loans in funding the Chechen wars as seen by Chechens or resentments
towards those in the US involved in any of this.
40. If the violent incidents increased, the US security personnel lack the basic
awareness of their limitations to even adjust. They simply accept whatever
violence does happen as inevitable and do not see any link between their
lack of basic knowledge and apathy to their failures in preventing these incidents
or their ability to extend protection to current or past US government employees with
roles towards those countries who may be targets of resentment or to international
institutions such as IMF and World Bank or private corporations or individuals.
41. US security personnel rely on dynamics of interviews not substantive knowledge
to assess who is a threat. So for example in the classic buddy interview style,
the lead person engages the suspect. The sidekick is not involved and then manifests
occasionally more antagonistic questions as they are not the focus of attention
of the suspect or lead interviewer. If the suspect is trained in this or
from a country with a natural affinity for chatting up those in authority, they
will not become offended and will instead engage the sidekick in a positive manner.
The result is that the person passes the interview because they pass the
psychodynamics of the buddy interview system.
42. This is the entire extent of the ability of the security services
to interview suspects. This dynamic is what they rely on. For people from
countries where they deal with government authority and learn to chat them up
and be friendly despite such antagonism they automatically pass the interview
and thus are assessed as not a threat.
43. US security personnel can’t win an interview with a suspect who doesn’t react
to being pushed, because they lack substantive knowledge of the person’s country,
history, institutions and their relation to those of the US or international
organizations with offices here.
44. The US security bubble was exposed in Boston. The US security system is
a theatrical system at airports or put on display in the city shutdown. It has
no substance. The apathy that pervades it and the smug overconfidence in their
street smarts and interview skills and techniques means it will continue to
fail. They don’t understand the people or the countries which is why their interviews
45. As the foreign influx accumulates, what happened in Boston in a week in April 2013
can become the new normal. The security services will simply accept that and never
realize their own faults are to blame and need correction.
46. These attitudes and characteristics arise from the excessive workload for the US
security services. They do not have time to learn or understand. Thus they have to
fall back on just interview skills and street smarts. Because this is the only tool
they have, they come to believe it works, even when it fails. This is the pattern
in the Boston Marathon bombings. This pattern of apathy to the substantive knowledge
of people and their countries and their interaction with those in the US is already
the new normal.
Although a few elite US security personnel may not be as subject to the criticisms
given, this is likely typical of many if not most. Moreover, any expansion in a crisis
would involve those even worse. The State Department may interact with a few elite
security personnel who give them a mistaken impression of the sophistication of US
security personnel. The security personnel who actually interact with suspects
like the Tsarnaevs are not anywhere near this level.
These views represent my opinions only and not those of any organization.
Mark S. Tenney
Honorable James Moran
2252 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4376
Fax: (202) 225-0017
Honorable Mark Warner
475 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Honorable Tim Kaine
B40C Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4024
Fax: (202) 228-6363
US Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
2138 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, p/202-225-3951.
Readers, it is important to send your testimony to your elected representatives, and I promised to publish statements here at RRW as well because the State Department will be putting these in a drawer somewhere in hopes they never see the light of day. They will however distribute copies of your testimony (if you have given approval) at the hearing on Wednesday, but only those at the meeting will get them.