QUESTION: Okay. Can I go back to Egypt for just one second?
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And – but it's not having to do with the government. It has to do with the visa for the Gama'a al-Islamiyya member. You said last week that there was a – you were looking into the circumstances of how this was issued. Has – have you determined how this – how it happened? And are you aware that Representative King has asked – formally asked Homeland Security to find out how he was in fact allowed entry, quite apart – separate from the visa issue?
MS. NULAND: On the latter, yes, I've seen the reporting. As we promised, we did look into it. Unfortunately, you're not going to be happy with me when I tell you that we are not going to get into the details of confidential visa issuance. He and the rest of that delegation who were here last week have all now returned to Egypt.
QUESTION: Do you regard it as a mistake to have issued him a visa, given that he is self-proclaimed a member of Gama'a al-Islamiyya?
MS. NULAND: Well, let's start with the fact that we have an interest in engaging a broad cross-section of Egyptians who are seeking to peacefully shape Egypt's future. The goal of this delegation, as you know, was to have consultations both with think tanks but also with government folks, with a broad spectrum representing all the colors of Egyptian politics: liberals, Islamists, Salafists, women, Bedouin Christians. We were encouraged that they were willing to travel, that they were open to meetings with us, et cetera.
But in terms of specific questions on the visa issuance, I'm not going to – I'm not at liberty to get into anything further.
QUESTION: Well, but here's the thing: I mean, I appreciate that you feel that you have an interest in consulting with the entire spectrum of Egyptian political society. But you also have U.S. laws which state that members of foreign terrorist groups are not eligible for travel to the United States, and would state, in some cases, can actually be removed from the United States if they happen to come here.
So the question – and I don't think it's an unreasonable question – it's whether it's a mistake to let somebody who is a self-proclaimed member of such a group in or not. It may be that the threshold under the law is higher and that you have to do more than just say, "Hey, I'm a member of X." You actually have to have a card or, I don't know, pay dues. I mean, maybe there are --
MS. NULAND: The T-shirt?
QUESTION: I bet he has one. But the question is whether it – this is a mistake or not regardless of – nobody's asking you about the specific details of the issuance or – it's just "Did you make a mistake?"
MS. NULAND: Again, with regard to this case, we pledged to you that we would look into it. We did look into it. But I can't get into any further details with regard to the how, why, where of the issuance for all of the reasons that we usually state.
With regard to the broader principle of engaging a broad cross-section of Egyptians, as I said, we think that's a good thing to do.
QUESTION: So in the future, you're going to allow in members of Foreign Terrorist Organizations to the United States Government, because that's an interest to the U.S. Government to talk to a wide range of people?
MS. NULAND: As we always do, U.S. law comes first.
QUESTION: I don't recall you saying when you said you were going to look into it, that you weren't going to tell us what the results of the investigation were. I missed that part.
MS. NULAND: That's true. You did.
QUESTION: No, I missed it because I don't think you said it. And I think there was an expectation that if someone acted inappropriately or if somehow this guy slipped through, if procedures were violated, that you would at least be able to say that. So can you say if – has there been a determination that someone missed the ball here?
MS. NULAND: Again, I can't speak to what our looking into this resulted in, except to say that the delegation has all departed the country now.
QUESTION: Well, right, but we knew that they had left on – or were in the process of leaving on Friday, so --
MS. NULAND: They were. They were.
QUESTION: So --
MS. NULAND: I've said what I've got on this one. Arshad had more --
QUESTION: I understand, but I just – I really – I mean, if you say you're going to do an investigation and the results of the investigation are secret, that's --
MS. NULAND: I said we were going to look into it. We did look into it.
QUESTION: And that's it? It's a done deal?
MS. NULAND: Under U.S. law --
QUESTION: So the matter – no one's going to face any disciplinary action? There hasn't been --
MS. NULAND: I'm not going to --
QUESTION: I don't understand how that --
MS. NULAND: I'm not in a position --
QUESTION: I don't understand how that gets into the Privacy Act, I don't understand how that gets into visa confidentiality, and I suspect that you're going to hear a lot more about this from the Hill. Maybe you'll be more forthcoming with them than with the American people, who are supposed to be protected by these laws.
MS. NULAND: Anything else?
QUESTION: Two, yeah, related to this. To your knowledge, are there any legal or criminal inquiries into whether any U.S. laws were violated in this instance?
MS. NULAND: I do not know the answer to that question, Arshad.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
State Department Violates Law, Doesn't Seem to Find Anything Wrong With That
Last week, Eli Lake, broke the story that the State Department issued a visa to a known member of an Egyptian terrorist organization, in violation of US law. In yesterday's press briefing, it doesn't sound like the State Department really cares that they broke the law. They apparently investigated the matter and won't really say what they concluded from that investigation but said that they think its a good idea to engage "a broad cross section of Egyptians". In completely dishonest fashion, they added that "US law comes first". Do these people listen to themselves?: