I used to be in charge of the Visa Section at the CIA’s consulate at Jeddah, the principle city of the Hejahs in Western Saudi Arabia. There, for a year and a half, I issued visas to terrorists recruited by the CIA and its asset, Osama Bin Laden. At the time I thought it was basically visa fraud. Somebody was paying $2500 bribes to State Department officials. I was ordered by these same high State Department officials to issue the visas, to shut up, to do my job and ask no questions. http://www.unansweredquestions.org/transcript.shtml
9-11 and the Public Safety :
Seeking Answers and Accountability
Meeting held in Washington, D.C. on June 10, 2002 at the National Press Club
I used to be in charge of the Visa Section at the CIA’s consulate at Jeddah, the principle city of the Hejahs in Western Saudi Arabia. There, for a year and a half, I issued visas to terrorists recruited by the CIA and its asset, Osama Bin Laden. At the time I thought it was basically visa fraud. Somebody was paying $2500 bribes to State Department officials. I was ordered by these same high State Department officials to issue the visas, to shut up, to do my job and ask no questions.
And this wasn’t simply a difference of opinion as was alleged later on. It wasn’t one of these things where they wanted to visit their father in America and there was a question of where they worked, that sort of thing. It was basically two Pakistanis came to me one day and said, “We want to go to a trade show in America.” And I asked, “What’s the trade show?” They didn’t know. “What city is it going to be held in?” They didn’t know. And I asked a few more questions and I said, “No. Visa denied. You haven’t proved to me that you’re going to come to the United States, accomplish your business and then return home.” Well a few minutes later I had a phone call from a CIA case officer assigned to the commercial section. “Issue the visas.” I said, “No.” He said, “Well, it’s important they get a visa.” And I said, “No.” And a few minutes later he was over talking to the chief of the consular section, reversed me, issued the visas and these guys took off. And this was typical. I had a Sudanese who was unemployed in Saudi Arabia. He was a refugee from the Sudan and I said, “You don’t get a visa” And he kept coming back and coming back and coming back. And after a bit I started getting calls from a woman I believe was a case officer who was in the political section. “We need this guy.” And I said, “No. He hasn’t proved to me that he’s going to America and he’s going to come back, as the Immigration and Nationality Act says and that the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual says.” Well, in short order I got reversed again and he got his visa for national security reasons. And this went on for a year and a half. I had people, not every day perhaps, but every week. And I estimate as many as 100 people got visas through me getting overruled on my analysis of their ability to go to the United states and then return.
And I protested this. I protested to the Counsel for Consular Affairs in Riad. I protested to the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington. I protested to the State Department’s Inspector General. I protested to the State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security. I talked about this to the FBI, to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and I went to a couple of Congressional Committees. And by and large I was told, “Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This is a difference of opinion. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re far to junior to question the Counsel General in Jeddah’s interest in doing this.”
And I came back to Washington after a trip to Germany and I was assigned to the Bureau of Intelligence Research in the State Department. And eventually my appointment was cancelled. After this and after I tried mightily for several years to find out what had happened to me, and the Freedom of Information Act requests were being stonewalled on the basis of national security, I ran across a journalist, Joe Trento. And about the same time I ran across two people, one of whom was a government official and the other was a person attached to a local university here in Washington. All three confirmed that what I was protesting was not visa fraud but people being rounded up by the agency and Osama Bin Laden to come to the United Sates for training as terrorists to be sent to fight in the war against the then Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They used roughly a million dollars in liquor sales a year from the consulate in Jeddah to fund this. And you might ask, well, as the Washington Legal Times did, that was then, this is now, fifteen years later. Well, from what I read in the Los Angeles Times, fifteen of the nineteen people who allegedly flew airplanes into buildings in the United States got their visas from the same CIA consulate at Jeddah. And according to a journalist in Florida, Sidney Friedberg, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, they got this through the Visa Express program where you handed in your documents and they packed them off in a bunch of other documents, people traveling to the States for legitimate reason with a legitimate travel agency. Well Sevarino Castillo, the former DEA officer, told me this was common practice for the CIA in Central America. They put their guys in, hoping that the paperwork would be overlooked, that they wouldn’t get too many questions asked. And when I raised this with the Los Angeles Times, with the New York Times, with the Washington Post, with 60 Minutes, nobody wanted to talk about it.