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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Introduction


February 1, 2007

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 In December 2004, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Commission had identified a number of factors that allowed terrorists to exploit the vulnerabilities of U.S. travel documents. The IRTPA directed the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to develop a National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel (NSCTT). That strategy, which was submitted in March 2006, enhances the capabilities of the United States and its foreign partners to "constrain terrorist mobility overseas" and "deny terrorists the ability to enter, exit, and travel within the United States." The President's updated "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism," issued in September 2006, builds upon the NSCTT and reinforces the twofold need to "deny terrorists entry to the United States and disrupt their travel internationally" and "strengthen coalitions and partnerships."

Image of the corner of an official U.S. visa.In anticipation of the NSCTT, Section 7128 of the IRTPA mandated the establishment of a Visa and Passport Security Program (Program) within the Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security to safeguard the integrity of U.S. travel documents. The Program is required to target and disrupt terrorist travel and includes the following four components: Analysis of Methods; Identification of Individuals and Documents; Identification of Foreign Countries Needing Assistance; and Inspection of Applications.

In establishing this Program, Section 7218 required that DS:

... shall ensure the preparation of a Strategic Plan to target and disrupt individuals and organizations, within the United States and in foreign countries that are involved in the fraudulent production, distribution, use, or other similar activity-

(A) of a United States visa or United States passport;

(B) of documents intended to help fraudulently procure a United States visa or United States passport, or other documents intended to gain unlawful entry into the United States; or

(C) of visas and passports issued by foreign countries intended to gain unlawful entry into the United States.

The DS Strategic Plan (Plan) incorporates the principles of the NSCTT and the President's overarching national strategy and addresses the IRTPA's objective to target and disrupt individuals and organizations that attempt to compromise the integrity of U.S. travel documents. Successful implementation of the strategy will diminish terrorists' opportunities to operate and recruit; restrict access to potential U.S. targets; and allow U.S. domestic agencies to concentrate more of their resources on critical infrastructure, border security, and immigration policy. The Plan will require the deployment of additional DS personnel at critical posts around the globe, resources to enhance intelligence and data-sharing efforts, and vital training and technical assistance to our foreign partners.

The Plan is built upon three strategic goals:

Strategic Goal 1
Defend the homeland and our foreign partners from terrorist attack through aggressive and coordinated international law enforcement action.

Strategic Goal 2
Detect terrorist activity, methods, and trends that exploit international travel vulnerabilities.

Strategic Goal 3
Disrupt terrorist efforts to use fraudulent travel documents through strengthening the capacities of foreign partners.

Achieving these three strategic goals will require the creation of a robust global force capable of combating terrorist travel and attempts to obtain U.S. visas and passports by illegal means. The Plan emphasizes law enforcement efforts and coordination; interagency collaboration, information exchange, and intelligence analysis; and foreign cooperation and capacity building.

The success of the Plan will be a direct result of collaboration with bureaus within the State Department. The databases and expertise of the Bureau of Consular Affairs are critical to identifying and disrupting terrorist travel. The Department can leverage additional expertise in identification and analysis of suspicious patterns, symbols, or associations from the NCTC and the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center (HSTC) and dedicate resources appropriately. Such analysis will assist border screeners, ease impediments to legitimate travel, and stop terrorists before they ever reach U.S. shores.

DS also works closely with the Secretary's Counterterrorism Coordinator and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in their missions to enhance the counterterrorism capacity of foreign governments. This Plan builds upon existing cooperative relationships and outlines expanded efforts to provide training through the International Law Enforcement Academies. By developing local expertise and regional cooperation, the Plan will increase dramatically the ability of the United States and its partners to inhibit terrorists' mobility.

DS and the security entities that preceded it at the State Department have conducted passport and visa fraud investigations since 1918. The men and women who join DS do so because they want to serve the federal law enforcement community in overseas locations. DS personnel receive rigorous and specialized law enforcement, intelligence, and language training to ensure they are properly prepared to perform their duties at State Department posts throughout the world. DS's unique combination of foreign and domestic partners will facilitate the effective implementation of this Strategic Plan.


 

Table of Contents

Mission Statement | Introductory Letter From Assistant Secretary Griffin | The Bureau of Diplomatic Security: A Brief History | Visa and Passport Fraud: An Overview | Introduction | Strategic Goal 1 | Strategic Goal 2 | Strategic Goal 3 | Conclusion | Appendix: Operation Triple X



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