the Frank Amendment
HOUR 2: CONVERSATION BETWEEN PATRICK AND CHUCK
The conversation revolved around an amendment introduced by Barney Frank in 1990 that Chuck cited as contributing the 9/11 bombing.
Chuck: Congressman Barney Frank sponsored a bill in 1990, called the Frank
Amendment, that struck the exclusion clause from the Immigration and
Nationality Act. This bill, which became law in 1990, according to the
testimony of former CIA Directors James Woolsey and George Tenet, made it
easier for terrorists to get legal visas when entering the United States.
The Frank Amendment hamstrung the government’s ability to deny these
visas by requiring that the government “prove” that the
applicant had been involved in “terrorist activities” before denying a visa.
This would be virtually impossible as it would be difficult to prove that
Osama bin Laden was involved in “terrorist activities” if he applied for a
visa during the Frank amendment period which ended after the September 11th
attack. In fact, The Frank Amendment made it easier for the 19 September
11th hijackers to enter this country with legal visas.
I contend that this bill was the stupidest piece of legislation ever passed
in the history of the United States.
Patrick: Based on the testimony you have cited, I take your point that this particular amendment likely contributed to the clearance processes that allowed the 9/11 bombers to enter the country on school visas. However, there were other aspects of the clearance process and how it was handled that were equally influential, especially the lack of thoroughness in checking backgrounds and monitoring class attendance. And the clearance was not the proximate enabler of the attack; there were many others The FBI actually had evidence of the impending attack in a local office and spread throughout the bureaucracy, but the pieces did not get put together. One of the students of a flight school used by some hijackers reported that it was strange that the Muslims in the class were only interested in learning how to fly – not take off or land.
I realize that you contend- and with good evidence – that a consequence of the Frank Amendment was the failure of intelligence agencies to exchange information, but the 9/11 case did not rest on interagency cooperation- it was all in the FBI. Additionally, with or without the Frank Amendment or any other law, the nation’s intelligence agencies are notorious for non-cooperation and turf wars.
Stupidest legislation? Not as stupid as George Bush illegally invading Iraq. (but that was not legislation, so you have a point).