. Sure, the application was then passed on to the consulate or embassy, but the result was that most Saudi applicants could avoid contact with any U.S. citizens until stepping foot off an airplane on American soil. Even though three of the 9/11 terrorists used this open door, the program remained in place right up to the present. On the day before two committee votes on the Homeland Security bill, there were multiple news reports of massive visa fraud at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar. As part of “Operation Eagle Strike,” authorities are investigating the possible illegal sale of up to 71 visas to mostly Jordanian and Pakistani men for $10,000 each. 31 people have already been arrested or detained, and authorities are in pursuit of 29 more suspected of purchasing the visas. The rest of the 71 have either left the country or are dependents or children, and are not wanted by authorities. Despite a mountain of evidence of repeated fraud and poor oversight of visa issuance by State, including well-known cases of visa fraud in recent years, the two House committees acting yesterday, Judiciary and International Relations (IR), voted to keep the visa issuance function within the State Department, instead of transferring the power to the new Department of Homeland Security. In a huge victory for Powell, the Judiciary Committee voted 18-15 to maintain the status quo that enabled all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists to obtain legal visas, and IR maintained State’s authority without a vote at all. Perhaps out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to the Foreign Service Corps, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) twisted the arms of several stalwart conservatives on Judiciary, several of whom may not have fully understood the legalese language of the Hyde Amendment. Several high-ranking Capitol Hill staffers are confident, however, that the vote in Rep. Dan Burton’s Government Reform Committee will result in a bill that removes visa authority from State and places it in law enforcement-minded Homeland Security. From there, the likely split between the House committees would be resolved next week by the ad hoc committee, consisting of members of leadership and headed up by Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). Regardless of the final outcome of who will control visa issuance, one thing is clear: CA’s house must be cleaned, and Mary Ryan’s “courtesy culture” must be remade into one that emphasizes border security above all else. Our very safety depends on it.