RE: [] Saddam's Trail Leads to Paris

This is not the forum for your political views.  
-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2003 2:12 AM
Subject: [] Saddam's Trail Leads to Paris has sent you an article from The Washington



Bill Gertz


       The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday urged the
Bush administration to investigate accusations that France provided
passports to fleeing Iraqi officials.
     Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. said the Paris government should be
punished if the allegations, made by U.S. intelligence sources, are
     Mr. Sensenbrenner told the Homeland Security Department that France
should be excluded from a special visa waiver program if the reports about
the passports are true.
     "These reports, if true, are disturbing and deserve investigation," Mr.
Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican, wrote in a letter sent yesterday to
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
     "In particular, such actions would show a complete disregard for our
nation's security interests as well as a willingness to allow individuals
who may have engaged in criminal acts to avoid detection and prosecution."
     Mr. Sensenbrenner's request was prompted by reports that appeared first
in The Washington Times on Tuesday. U.S. intelligence officials told The
Times that the French government had provided passports to fleeing Iraqi
officials in Syria that helped them to escape to Western Europe.
     The French government denied that it had granted passports or visas to
any former Iraqi officials. Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Francois
Rivasseau said on Radio France Internationale that no visas had been issued
to former Iraqi leaders.
     However, U.S. officials said the passports allowed the Iraqis to escape
capture by coalition forces. Because France is part of the European Union,
the passports gave the Iraqis the ability to travel freely among 12 European
     They said the passports have also made it difficult to track the
     The number of officials who received the passports and their ranks in
the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could not be learned.
     The discovery has prompted a search for Iraqi officials in Europe by
U.S. and allied intelligence and security services.
     Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican and chairman of the House
Homeland Security Committee, also is investigating the French passport
matter, an aide said.
     Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, said French efforts to support
Saddam's regime before the war, along with reports that Paris supplied
passports to Iraqi officials, had undermined U.S. efforts against Iraq and
the war on terrorism. "If France wants to be an ally in the war on
terrorism, it is time it started to act like one," Mr. Pitts said in remarks
on the House floor.
     Mr. Sensenbrenner said that providing passports to Iraqi officials
could jeopardize U.S. national security because French passport holders are
part of a visa waiver program.
     "If the French government did, in fact, issue its country's passports
to fleeing Iraqi officials, those officials would be able to enter the
United States under the visa waiver program.
     "The entry of such individuals into the United States would pose a
direct threat to the American public, and any action by the French
government to provide those individuals with French passports would have
been taken in reckless disregard of that threat."
     Mr. Sensenbrenner said the investigation by the Homeland Security
Department should be assisted by the State and Justice departments, the CIA
and the National Security Agency.
     If any information is uncovered indicating that France improperly
issued passports to non-French nationals, "you should consider this the coup
de grace for France and you should give the most urgent consideration to
suspending France from the visa waiver program," he said.
     Mr. Ridge has the power to stop the visa waiver program if it poses a
threat to U.S. security. The waiver program permits visitors to enter the
United States without having to obtain visas. In the past, terrorists have
used fraudulent passports and valid passports to enter the United States
undetected, Mr. Sensenbrenner said.
     "The risk that French nationals might use the visa waiver program to
seek to enter the United States to perform terrorist acts is not merely
theoretical," he said. "Zacarias Moussaoui, who many believe was the '20th
September 11th hijacker,' came to the United States as a French national
under the visa waiver program, using his legitimately issued French

This article was mailed from The Washington Times
For more great articles, visit us at

Copyright (c) 2002 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Received on Friday, 16 May 2003 05:53:04 UTC