- Ennek a témakörnek tartalma 2 hozzászólás, 0 résztvevő. Utolsó frissítés: Adam 16 éve, 5 hónapja telt el.
Thursday November 29 12:26 PM ET
U.S. Anti-Terror Bid Dangles Carrot for Foreigners
By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday launched a program to lure foreigners into informing on suspected terrorists in exchange for help with visas and citizenship, following the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has come under a barrage of criticism by civil rights groups in recent months, announced the “Responsible Cooperators Program,” promising foreigners that for the right information they would get help with visas and other immigration issues.
“It is designed to say to people that if you would like to have an improved visa status for your own presence in the United States and a pathway to citizenship, one of the ways you can do that is by providing reliable and useful information about terrorism,” said Ashcroft.
While it was important for everyone to “help save American lives,” visitors might have valuable information because of their language skills and “things they know from home,” Ashcroft told ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.
Ashcroft told NBC’s “Today” show, while it was not an amnesty program, people without proper documentation who come forward should not fear for their futures.
“We will be interested in the information they have and not interrogating them and not about their own status,” he said.
The United States currently issues a small number of 3-year ”S” visas every year to noncitizens who provide “critical and reliable information” concerning a terrorist organization.
The criteria to qualify for an “S” visa require the applicant to have placed his or her life in danger as a result of providing that information and to be eligible to receive a government reward.
“This is useful program but we want to go beyond this,” said a Justice Department official. Only 50 “S” visas are granted each year.
RELIEF FOR INFORMATION
Ashcroft offered an alternative if a foreigner was not eligible for an “S” visa but still provided useful information in the fight against terrorism.
“I am directing the INS, the criminal division and the United States attorneys in appropriate cases to defer action on placing the alien into removal proceedings or to grant parole in the public interest to allow the alien to enter and remain in the United States,” his three-page directive said.
The United States is seeking to find out who was behind the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed more than 3,900 people.
“With respect to terrorists who are being sought by the United States or who plan to commit further violent acts against the United States, there may be aliens who have useful and reliable information as to their whereabouts, their organizations and their plans, but who may be reluctant to provide that information to law enforcement officials,” Ashcroft said in the directive.
“The Department of Justice … has the legal authority to offer incentives to those aliens, whether living in the United States or abroad, to provide reliable and useful information about the terrorists and their plans,” he said.
He did not detail what information had to be provided.
Ashcroft has launched an aggressive arrest and detention program aimed at finding those responsible and preventing another attack from occurring.
But he has been criticized by civil rights groups for allowing hundreds of people to be rounded up. Ashcroft announced this week that federal criminal or immigration charges have been brought against more than 650 people since the attacks.
U.S. attorneys have also been ordered to question 5,000 foreign men living in the United States to see if they have information about the attacks. The men, who are not suspects, are aged 18 to 33 and entered the country since January 2000.
The new program is partially aimed at ensuring many of those 5,000 men — including those who may be in the country illegally — take part in the interviews and answer questions.
In an interview with CNN, Ashcroft declined to comment on reports that investigators had only 12 people among hundreds in custody who had provided information regarding Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect for the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I’m not confirming any number. I’m indicating that among the people that we have we obviously feel that we have individuals related to terrorism and I don’t want to say that we think it’s as small as the number you cited, or try to give a number on that,” he said.
Ashcroft said members of bin Laden’s al Qaeda movement were in custody but declined to give any details on who they were or whether they were leaders of the group.
“We know that when we continue to work hard to make sure that those associated with terrorists, those who are violators of the law, are not only questioned and arrested but they’re detained, that we reduce the potential that we have additional attacks,” he said.