In a move that ought to terminate any long-shot chance he had for a political comeback, former Vice President Al Gore criticized his own country yesterday before an audience in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
It remains to be seen whether members of Gore’s party will stand up and rebuke him for this act.
Ignoring one of the primary lessons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — which was that Saudi-born terrorists exploited a lax U.S. visa system — Gore, in Jiddah, shot venom at the manner in which the U.S. government tightened visa-and-immigration enforcement after the terrorist attacks.
As reported by the Associated Press, Gore told a principally Arab audience at the Jiddah Economic Forum that, after 9/11, Arabs in the United States had been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.”
“Unfortunately, there have been terrible abuses and it’s wrong,” Gore said. “I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of citizens of my country.”
Gore directly criticized what he apparently considers over-strict U.S. government scrutiny of visa applications from the Arab world. “The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake,” said Gore. “The worst thing we can possible do is cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”
Gore must not have read the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. It concluded that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. These hijackers, the commission concluded, took advantage of weak U.S. immigration and visa enforcement.
In fact, the hijackers submitted a total of 24 U.S. visa applications, of which 20 were retained in U.S. State Department files. “All 20 of these applications,” a 9/11 Commission staff report concluded, “were incomplete in some way, with a data field left blank or not answered fully.”
“Three of the hijackers submitted applications that contained false statements that could have been proven to be false at the time they applied,” said the staff report, entitled “Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States.”
“During their stays in the United States at least six of the 9/11 hijackers violated immigration laws,” said the report.
According to the report, the 9/11 hijackers who were given visas to enter and stay in the U.S.: “Included among them known al Qaeda operatives who could have been watchlisted; Presented passports ‘manipulated in a fraudulent manner;’ Presented passports with ‘suspicious indictors’ of extremism; Made detectable false statements on their visa applications; Were pulled out of the travel stream and given greater scrutiny by border officials; Made false statements to border officials to gain entry into the United States; and Violated immigration laws while inside the United States.”
Given these facts established by the 9/11 Commission, Gore’s statements in Jiddah criticizing stricter U.S. visa-law enforcement against Arab nationals after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are not only foolish and un-American they are uninformed.
We shall see if any Democratic leader calls him on it.