Past Features

October 19, 2015

Trump, George W., and the Terrorist
Attack on America

What role did Doris Meissner play?

Doris Meissner, former INS Commissioner, appears on 60 Minutes -- 9/23/01
Market Watch -- October 19, 2015
Trump, Bush Continue Battle Over 9/11 Comments and George W.
    Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump escalated their fight over foreign policy Sunday, highlighting a rift within the party over the wisdom of the Iraq war and blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
    Trump, the party's 2016 frontrunner, has in recent days repeatedly jabbed Bush and his brother, former President George W. Bush, over the latter's handling of the 2001 terrorist attacks. [...]
    “I'm not blaming George Bush but I don't want Jeb Bush to say ‘My brother kept us safe,' because September 11th was one of the worst days in the history of the country,'’ Trump said on “Fox News Sunday.”
    If he had been president then, Trump said he might have been able to prevent the attacks from happening by keeping the hijackers out of the country. “If I were running things I doubt those people would have been in the country,” he said.

CBS News -- September 23, 2001
60 Minutes: Lost In America
    One of the things we've learned in the last two weeks is that we don't know much about the people coming into this country. The terrorists who carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon didn't wade across the Rio Grande or crawl through a Canadian cornfield. They didn't have to. The United States government opened its front door and let them in.
    At least 16 of the 19 hijackers entered the U.S. on temporary visas, as students, or workers or tourists and vanished within our borders to plot and carry out their crimes. Some of them had their visas expire and became illegal aliens, but no one was looking for them. And that is not unusual. Millions of foreigners have entered the country the same way. And the sad fact is, we don't know who they are, where they are, or what they are up to.
    Last year 30 million people came to the United States on temporary visas, which are in effect permission slips to enter the us for a specified purpose, and a specified period of time.
    They are issued by the State Department at U.S. embassies and consulates, and chances are the terrorists waited in lines like this to get one.
STEVE KROFT: "How easy are they to get?"
MARK KRIKORIAN: "Apparently, not nearly hard enough." [...]
STEVE KROFT: "So, we got a couple million people who came in the country legally and are now illegal aliens. And nobody knows really, where they are, and nobody's really looking for them."
DORIS MEISNER: "I think that's a fair statement. I mean, I --- you know, you have to understand that in the context of --- of what the priorities for who you look for would be, but absolutely."
STEVE KROFT: "You knew this problem existed?"
DORIS MEISNER: "Well, there's not --- there's not --- this has not been a secret problem."
STEVE KROFT: "When you were INS commissioner, did you worry about this problem at all? Was this something that you foresaw perhaps as coming back to haunt us, if we didn't do it?”
DORIS MEISNER: "Well, there were a lot of problems to worry about --- it'll be interesting to see what comes out of the debate now that the world has changed."
STEVE KROFT: "We've lost 5,000 people."
DORIS MEISNER: "Yes. This should be a priority, it better be."
TOM FISCHER: "Well, she was the Commissioner. She sets priorities. I guess it wasn't her priority."
STEVE KROFT: "You think she could have done more."