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Monday, March 25, 2002
Hey, at least they weren't dead at the time
The INS broke its own rules in giving special visa waivers to some 19 Pakistani crewmen from a ship which arrived last week. Fortunately, they were all responsible, law-abiding individuals. Well, except for the four crewmen who have now disappeared. None of them are actually proven terrorists, though, so there's nothing to be concerned about. And it's not fair to point fingers; the INS certainly can't be expected to identify every individual who might pose a risk. Well, except perhaps for the ones who've done this before.
An inspector also entered an improper birth date for one of the four missing Pakistanis. If the birth date had been entered correctly, INS would have found that the man had committed an immigration violation in Chicago several years ago, the INS official said. The error was not realized until the man disappeared, according to the official.
Better late than never. But I'm not worried, because John Ashcroft says, "I believe we will find these individuals, and I believe we will be able to correct this situation." Aren't you reassured? Certainly, though, the federal government has acted promptly. They've "launched an investigation." And they've dealt harshly with the person responsible:
William Bittner, a longtime INS employee who oversees the agency's Norfolk field office, has been reassigned to the Arlington office, an INS official said.
I'm sure the citizens of Arlington feel safer already. Aren't civil service laws great? You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

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