Taliban Yalie symptom of big problem
By BRONWYN LANCE CHESTER
Anyone who still doesn't believe that America's security has more holes than a Krispy Kreme bakery need look no further than Yale University. That's where former Taliban propagandist and ambassador-at-large, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, is enrolled as a student.
No need to check your glasses: You read that right.
Through the intervention of a CBS cameraman and a Yale alumnus -- who says connections don't count? -- the 27-year-old Hashemi scored an interview with the dean of undergraduate admissions and, ultimately, a coveted letter of acceptance.
This is the same Taliban spin doctor who defended a regime that sheltered Osama bin Laden, held mass executions and burned entire families alive. And it's the same haughty fellow who appeared in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" insulting a burqa-clad woman protesting the Taliban's misogynistic policies.
Never mind that Hashemi has only a fourth-grade education. Or that you could probably turn any rubble-strewn Kabul corner and find a far worthier candidate to sponsor for an Ivy League education.
This poor little lamb who's lost his way is now a proud member of the class of 2009. Boola boola, death to America.
What's most galling about Hashemi's stint in New Haven isn't that a guy with a fourth-grade education is wasting oxygen at Yale. Like it or not, the bien pensants at Yale can admit whomever they please -- it's a private institution -- even if this particular admission is a sure sign that the school has now carried the concept of "diversity" to absurd levels.
No, what's truly unsettling about this episode is that Hashemi was allowed to travel to Yale in the first place. For starters, how did the Taliban's poster boy not make the much-vaunted federal "no fly" list?
Babies are on the no-fly list. A friend's son, a New York lawyer with an exceedingly Anglo name, is on the no-fly list. And in what has to be the mother of all political paybacks, Sen. Ted Kennedy is even on the no-fly list.
But the spokesman for the "America is Satan" crowd apparently didn't make the cut.
(I have visions of Hashemi, in turban and full Taliban regalia, waiting to board his flight as security yanks a blue-haired granny with a walker out of line for further scrutiny.)
Newly released details about the occupants of Guantanamo Bay revealed that one of the detainees is an Afghan apple seller. This guy aroused enough suspicion for his reported Taliban and Al-Qaida ties to be thrown in the clink for four years. One would have thought the Taliban's mouthpiece would have at least rated a no-fly-list honorable mention, or some other kind of border alert.
This just proves what a security charade we go through every time we take to skies. Makes me wonder if anyone's thought to put bin Laden's name on the list, either.
Then, of course, there's the problem of Hashemi's student visa, and why on earth the State Department chose to give him one. Queries as to who put Uncle Sam's stamp in Hashemi's passport have caused cagey bureaucratic fingers to point in every direction.
The responsible federal agencies here -- State and Homeland Security -- are run by none other than the Bush administration, which won re-election with promises to keep America safe and prepared.
But unlike Hurricane Katrina, it's pretty tough to pawn this cock-up on state and local governments.
Here's a simply policy: Yale acceptance or not, prominent members and spokesmen of factions engaged in killing Americans should be summarily excluded from air travel to this country.
That's one security measure that should fly.
Bronwyn Lance Chester is a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.