by J. Michael Springmann
The U.S. government claims to be chasing the "terrorists" who flew planes into the World Trade Towers, but it still protects its employees who set the whole program in motion. CIA Clandestine Service Officers and a few State Department officials still draw fat pensions and substantial salaries for running a Visas for Terrorists Program out of the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government entity that provided visas to 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers of September 11, 2001.
Originally set up to recruit and train fighters for Zbigniew Brzezinsky and Jimmy Carter's war of choice in Afghanistan, the Send a Killer to Kabul Caper used CIA resources and assets, such as Osama bin Laden and the State Department, to bring terrorists to the U.S. for training. Once they became adept at shooting things down and blowing things up, the American government sent them on to Afghanistan to kill Russian soldiers. When that war was over, enterprising boys in the CIA's Clandestine Service evidently found other jobs for them, such as inciting clashes between Sunni and Shii in Iraq and in Lebanon.
Strange as it may seem, after so many years and so many deaths, no crusading Mr. Smith has gone to Washington and demanded explanations for what was done and why. The perpetrators of the program aren't hiding. They're in plain sight (or half-heartedly concealed by the State Department).
Jay Philip Freres, the driving force behind the program and a graduate of the CIA Station at Kabul (1960, 1980), is retired and living in Clearwater, Florida. He's appeared on Fox News (ca. 2002 with Edward S. Walker, Jr., deputy ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 1987), opining about terrorism.
After service at CIA Stations in Bucharest, Bonn (1990), and elsewhere, Eric L. Qualkenbush, the CIA Base Chief at Jeddah (1987-1989), eventually retired and resides in Findlay, Ohio where he once ran a counter-terrorism program at the local university.
Paul Arvid Tveit, who masqueraded as a Commercial Officer in Jeddah (1987-1989) and held CIA positions at U.S. consulates in Milan and Salzburg (1979-1983), is also retired and living in McLean, Virginia.
Henry Ensher, whose diplomatic cover was "Political Officer" at Jeddah in 1987 has had a full career. After Jeddah, he went on to Muscat in Oman; the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in Washington; Damascus, Syria as Economic/Commercial Officer (1995); Governance Counselor, Coalition Provisional Authority, Qadisiyah Province, Iraq, 2003; and the CIA Station in Baghdad 2004-2005 (as Deputy Political Counselor). (Unconfirmed reports have also placed him in the Kabul, Afghanistan Station.) He is also currently living in McLean, Virginia. His new position is Director of Political Affairs at the State Department's Iraq Office.
Joseph P. O'Neill, the man who arranged for the shredding of records kept on the Visas for Terrorists Program at Jeddah, is retired and has been working ostensibly as a re-employed annuitant at U.S. Foreign Service posts in Central Asia. (The State Department, as it does with most CIA staff, declines to provide his contact information.)
Others at Jeddah who were intimately involved with the free pass for killers handed out at the Consulate were Karen Sasahara, Ensher's successor as "Political Officer"(ca. 1988-1990), and Andy Weber ( a "part-time" Consular Officer at Jeddah in 1989; assigned to Bonn Station 1990). He was last seen in the 2002 Public Television NOVA program, "Bioterror", being interviewed by New York Times reporter Judith Miller while he was working as an arms inspector in Russia (1993-1995). Another was Justice (given name) Stevens, chief of Jeddah's Consular Section (ca. 1987-1990), who issued visas to Freres' recruits when the only State Department Officer there refused to do so. The State Department, at least one-third of which works for the intelligence services, declined all inquiries regarding current assignments for these individuals.
Protection for the participants in the Visas for Terrorists Program is deep, strong, and runs all across the U.S. government: the FBI; the State Department's Inspector General; the Government Accountability Office; Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.), now Chairman U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Jane Harman (D-Calif.), once Ranking Member, U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; were all apprised of the Send a Killer to Kabul Caper and nearly all had been requested in writing to respond. All have declined. Even some of the participants themselves (Qualkenbush, Tveit, and Ensher contacted by phone in 2006 and by letter in 2007), six years after September 11, 2001, and 20 years after their actions helped bring it about, simply do not respond to questions, particularly the one about "Do you regret what you have done?".
As the political satirist, Mark Russell, recently observed, "American governments do not make mistakes; they just keep repeating the same errors." Millions must live and die by these errors.