This just boggles the mind. According to CBS the Times Square bomber has been on the Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list since 1999. Even more astounding, he has brought roughly $80,000 dollars in cash into the United States from abroad between 1999 and 2008.
While some may not realize it, the government tracks people who bring in large sums of money (especially in cash) into the country. There is a computerized system called the Traveler Enforcement Compliance System that tracks this data. The only problem is that the system sucks and there is almost no communication between the database and other branches of the government.
In late March, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Susan Collins of Maine criticized the system in a letter to DHS, writing that, “Current functionality does not allow interoperability among databases, fast searching of information, modern interfaces for users of the system, or sufficient security to protect critical terrorist travel data.”
A modernization of the system began in 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2015.
I thought part of the goal of the 9/11 panel was to recognize failures and make it easier for various government agencies to work together so that stuff like this happens. The fact that you have a Pakistani who is bringing large sums of cash into the country after international trips should be a huge huge red flag. Regular people don’t carry that kind of scratch around, especially a guy who defaulted on his mortgage. The only people who carry large sums of cash around are drug dealers, pimps and terrorists.
I had really hoped we had learned our lesson after 9/11, but in reality we have just been extremely lucky that we have not been hit hard since then. I’m not saying we should never give people from Pakistan or the Middle East Visas and eventually citizenship, but perhaps we should take an extra look at the ones who are bring huge sums of cash through our borders.