Are you ready for this?
The State Department has been steadily increasing the number of visas granted to students and visitors from three Islamic nations -nations with connections to the Sept. 11 attacks and to al-Qaida, according to an NBC News survey of U.S. visa data. ... NBC examined temporary and student visas granted to citizens of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan from 2000 through 2007. Saudi Arabia is Osama Bin Laden’s home country, while Egypt is the home country of his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri. Both men are now believed to be hiding inside Pakistan. Saudis also made up 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11.
Overall, the three countries received 134,015 visas in 2000, before dipping to 34,781 in 2003, the lowest year in recent memory. Since then, the numbers have risen dramatically, to 109,878 last year, the first year of 100,000 or more visas since 2001. Those numbers represent an 18 percent drop from the peak year of 2000, but a near tripling since 2003.
The rationale -- or maybe excuse is the better word, since our lords and masters inside the Beltway seem determined to inject as much of the world as possible into the U.S. -- is that "it’s better we take the calculated risk to encourage the elite in these countries to come here,” said Bob Grenier, former head of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center. “There is a ripple effect in reaching those people we want to reach in those countries.”
And who are these people we want to reach?
Officials in the three countries are particularly sensitive about the educational visas. The reason: The elite in each of those countries-usually the most pro-American segment of society-want their children educated in U.S. colleges and universities. “The elite in Pakistan all want their children to go to Harvard or Stanford,” said a Pakistani official. “And if they don’t get into Harvard or Stanford, they get upset with America.”
Let Abdul who is the son of Labib who is the son of Muhammed who is the son of Mansur into Harvard or they'll get bothered with us. And elite families like the bin Ladens really know how to get bothered.
Obviously, most of these students and "visitors" are not security risks. How many are can't be known until they act so as to remove any doubt, but let's be charitable and say that no more than 5 percent might be people we need to worry about. That's a mere 5,494 out of 109,878 admitted. Last year.
There are other issues, however, suggested Grenier, that have to be dealt with if the U.S. is going to win friends and influence people in those nations.
Yes, let's convert terrorists with the Dale Carnegie method. Ask their advice. Help them feel good about themselves. Invite them to join the Rotary and the Toastmasters. Put them up for membership in your country club.
You would think, would you not, that the CIA and the State Department, in their zeal to protect the American people, might just err on the side of caution when it comes to recruiting the sons (probably not daughters) of privileged and well-connected Muslim families in states rife with terrorism? In your dreams. Or nightmares.