America still needs to close an important security loophole unveiled by the Nine-Eleven attacks, according to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Investigators say the terrorists who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon in 2001 learned to fly at American flight schools.
Grassley says a report from the independent Government Accountability Office shows the Department of Homeland Security is still “lax” in its duties. “The federal government has permitted sham colleges and sham universities to award student visas to foreign nationals,” Grassley says.
“The report warns this fraud scheme might make the nation vulnerable to potential terrorists seeking to enter the United States.” Grassley is scheduled to take part in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on strengthening the integrity of the student visa system by prevention and detection of these bogus educational institutions.
“Foreign student visas were issued to terrorists who attacked the United States with the bombing of the towers in 1993 and again when the towers were destroyed September 11th of 2001,” Grassley says. “The lesson should have been learned, especially with regard to flight schools.”
Grassley says Homeland Security officials have a “very poor track record” in identifying this type of fraud and are making it “fairly easy” for the crimes to continue. Grassley, a Republican, is introducing legislation that would require flight schools to be certified by the FAA before they can issue student visas.
The bill would also bar schools from issuing visas while they’re under a federal investigation and it would stiffen penalties for such types of fraud. “The management of this program is obviously a national security issue,” Grassley says. “Proper safeguards need to be put in place. More importantly, once they’re in place, they need to be implemented. We’ve got so many laws and regulations on the books that aren’t even being followed.”
Grassley notes the bill is bipartisan as it’s being co-sponsored by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat.