Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Selling out of America: U.S. Passports Outsourced

Here is the transcript of a CNN Situation Room's report on the outsourcing of U.S. passports. This the latest outrage by a government that is participating in the selling out of our country:

They're designed to deter terrorists and keep America's borders secure -- U.S. passports embedded with brand new high tech computer chips. But several foreign companies have a -- now have a hand in making them and this outsourcing, meant to actually save money, is raising new concerns about your security.

Let's go to CNN's our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee. She's been looking into this story.

It's raising a lot of eyebrows, a lot of concerns -- Zain, what are you learning?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are fears that the high tech push on passports could mean lower security standards.


VERJEE (voice-over): Your passport used to be made in America, but because of 9/11, all passports now must be fitted with electronic chips -- harder for terrorists to fake. Turns out, though, that in trying to make passports more secure, the U.S. is outsourcing the job to foreign companies.

MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It's another reason not to sleep tonight. VERJEE: Security experts fear blank chips could be stolen or tampered with.

CUTLER: If bad guys got a hold of those blanks and then properly filled them out and processed them and you had corruption involved, then what you really have are the keys to the kingdom sitting in a foreign country.

VERJEE: The Government Printing Office says U.S. companies don't have the state-of-the-art technology, so it gets European companies to make computer chips, in Singapore and Taipei, that are then sent to Thailand and inserted into passport covers, along with a wireless antenna. Those blank covers and blank chips go back to the U.S., where your data and photo are added.

Congress is sounding alarm bells. In a letter to the GPO inspector general, Congressman John Dingell is demanding to know whether that poses "... a significant national security threat and raises questions about the integrity of the entire e-passport program." SmartTrac, the Dutch-based company producing U.S. passports in Thailand says its facility is secure and built according to U.S. standards and each passport chip is tracked.

In a statement, the GPO says, "The materials are moved via a secure transportation means, including armored vehicles."

The State Department says there's no reason to be concerned.

PATRICK KENNEDY, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: When they arrive in the United States, all you have in front of you is a blue piece of plastic that is the standard size of anyone's passport in the entire world and a chip that has nothing on it and it could be the same equivalent as a CD-ROM that you could buy, as I said, anywhere.


VERJEE: Just a short while ago, CNN obtained a statement from Benny Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, who calls outsourcing passports just plain irresponsible, saying that his committee is going to look into whether U.S. technologies are just being overlooked -- Wolf.

BLITZER: One quick question I'm sure a lot of our viewers jump out -- and you referred to it in your piece, Zain. You mean to say there's no company in the United States of America that can manufacture a passport complete with the new high tech chip?

VERJEE: That's what the State Department, as well as the GPO, told us. What we learned also, Wolf, was SmartTrac -- that's that Dutch company in Thailand -- is saying that it's going to build a new production facility here in the U.S., in Minnesota.

They're saying that it should be up and running by the summer. But of course there's a lot of outrage about this, many saying U.S. companies should have this kind of technology and this is something that the Committee on Homeland Security is going to be looking into. BLITZER: Pretty shocking. It's hard to believe that there's no company in the United States who can do this.

Hillary Clinton is Really Under Fire Now

Hillary lied about being in danger while visiting Bosnia. But she's really under fire now. The Clintons just can't stop lying:

Hillary Clinton has finally admitted that she "misspoke" when claiming that she came "under sniper fire" in Bosnia during a March 1996 visit to U.S. troops enforcing the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. At first, the Clinton campaign maintained that the "misstatement" was limited to one occasion on March 17 when she talked about running across the tarmac "with our heads down." In an interview yesterday with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the senator from New York attributed the mistake to her "sleep-deprived" condition.

A review of the record shows that she provided embellished stories of her visit to Bosnia on at least two previous occasions, while campaigning in Iowa in December and in Texas in February. By the end of the day, Clinton was making a joke of her ordeal: "I made a mistake. That happens. It proves I'm human, which, you know, for some people is a revelation."


While Bosnia may have still been considered a "potential war zone" in March 1996, there were no open hostilities. NATO troops were patrolling the area in force, engaged in tasks such as clearing mines and blowing up old ammunition dumps. According to Adrian Pandurevic of Associated Press TV, "there were no armed groups roaming Bosnia, or any significant threat," and "the former front lines had been bulldozed." He described claims of "sniper fire" in and around the Tuzla air base as "simply ridiculous."

Quick, change the subject. By the way, why didn't you leave Bill Clinton when he was cheating on you all these years. Don't you and Bill have a loveless, cynical arrangement:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday said she would have left church had her pastor talked about the United States the way rival Sen. Barack Obama's did.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton shot back: "It's disappointing to see Hillary Clinton's campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention [from the Bosnia flap]."

Even Conservatives, like David Brooks, are calling for Hillary to step down before she harms the chances of Democrats winning the White House in the fall:
Hillary Clinton may not realize it yet, but she's just endured one of the worst weeks of her campaign.
First, Barack Obama weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects. Obama still holds a tiny lead among Democrats nationally in the Gallup tracking poll, just as he did before this whole affair blew up.
Second, Obama's lawyers successfully prevented re-votes in Florida and Michigan. That means it would be virtually impossible for Clinton to take a lead in either elected delegates or total primary votes.
Third, as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has reported, most superdelegates have accepted Nancy Pelosi's judgment that the winner of the elected delegates should get the nomination. Instead of lining up behind Clinton, they're drifting away. Her lead among them has shrunk by about 60 in the past month, according to Avi Zenilman of

In short, Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near.

Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she's probably down to a 5 percent chance. Five percent.
Let's take a look at what she's going to put her partythrough for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we'll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we'll have the daily round of resume padding and sulfurous conference calls. We'll have campaign aides blurting ''blue dress'' and only-because-he's-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

There could be a movement in the works by the Democratic hierarchy to end the campaign and chose a nominee before the convention:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says the Democratic presidential nomination will be decided before the August convention.

“It will be done,” Reid said of the ongoing nomination battle in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal last week.

As the intense fight between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) heads into the spring, some party insiders are nervous the protracted battle will help Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee.