WASHINGTON – In another example of the federal bureaucracy getting in the way of fighting terrorism, Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport – the nation’s third-busiest – have been told by their superiors not
to arrest terrorist suspects, even though they carry guns and have arrest authority, reveals an internal INS memo, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.com.
More shocking, the memo follows a national policy set by INS headquarters here and maintained even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The armed inspectors – who attend 18 weeks at a federal law enforcement academy in Georgia, and must qualify quarterly with the .40-caliber Beretta on one of the most difficult courses – are fuming over new orders to stand down.
“We are not allowed to arrest and detain people in the arrival area of the airport – even if they are terrorists,” complained Terry Hamilton, an LAX inspector and 14-year INS veteran.
He and others cite a memo distributed Feb. 12 to all inspectors by Michael Cochran, INS assistant port director at LAX (the world’s busiest airport as measured by the amount of luggage it handles), cautioning them against responding to reports of suspected terrorists. He advised the uniformed officers not to leave their inspection areas.
“This is a reminder so that we will be clear on what our duties as inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport include, and don’t include,” Cochran said.
“We are not to respond to calls from airlines requesting that we examine the documents of suspected illegal aliens,” he continued. “If something ‘special’ does come up – i.e., suspected terrorists, kidnapping, slavery or other – we should not go and arrest groups of people.”
An INS spokesman here backed up the no-arrest rule for inspectors – who are the first officers foreign nationals meet as they enter the U.S., and are therefore America’s first line of defense against additional Islamic terrorists entering the country.
“If there’s a report that somebody who’s roaming around in the terminal is allegedly a terrorist, then inspectors should report that to the appropriate security and law-enforcement entities in the airport,” said Russ Bergeron, INS director of media relations.
Making the arrest on their own “would not be smart police work,” he said without elaborating.
Inspectors “should only act if they witness an individual involved in a criminal act,” Bergeron told WorldNetDaily.
In describing their jobs, however, the INS website says that “inspectors are charged with intercepting terrorists.”