We reported recently on the case of an Egyptian lawmaker who was granted visa access and allowed to meet with high-level administration officials despite his membership in a group designated as a terrorist organization. The State Department spokeswoman said she’d look into it, but then refused to tell the media what that investigation uncovered.
Then, as the Hill reported, “Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers on Wednesday that a member of an Egyptian militant group labeled by the United States as a terrorist organization was vetted by three U.S. agencies before visiting the White House. Napolitano said the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service all thoroughly examined the Egyptian man, Hani Nour Eldin, before his visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with members of Congress and senior administration officials.”
Nevertheless, no waiver was issued to allow him into the country, which would have resulted in notification to Congress. At the House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told Napolitano: “The administration — whether it’s this administration or another administration — may feel that some of these people can be dealt with, can be worked with, but if that’s to be done, to me, it would seem it would have to be an open process, a transparent process where Congress and the people would know who was being let into this country.” But not this administration, it seems.
I asked State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland again yesterday who has the responsibility to issue a waiver for someone like Eldin, and if there was an affirmative decision not to issue the waiver. Alas, the answer I got back (despite the fact Napolitano testified about the situation) was “visa records are confidential.” I also asked about future policy. But the State Department refused to tell me if there is now a policy to waive people into the country from terrorist-identified groups on a case-by-case basis or whether we will even know if a waiver has been granted.
The level of secrecy and contempt for existing law is stunning, but not new to this administration. It apparently isn’t willing to tell us if, in the wake of the “Arab Spring,” members of terrorist groups can now get free access to the White House. For a president carping about his political opponent’s limited disclosure, this is hypocrisy of the highest order.