- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know whether suspected mismanagement at a key Immigration and Naturalization Service law enforcement facility in Vermont has jeopardized the nation's ability to control its borders.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs, demanded in a letter yesterday to INS Commissioner James Ziglar an explanation of "problems" at the agency's Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC).
The LESC was created to respond to requests by law enforcement agencies nationwide for information on whether someone in custody also is wanted by the INS. If so, detainees can be held until the INS takes them into federal custody.
"While the LESC is a tremendously important tool for our national security, I am concerned that it is being mismanaged, wasted and underutilized," Mr. Grassley said.
The letter was released late yesterday.
"It would be inappropriate to respond to Senator Grassley's letter through the media. Commissioner Ziglar will respond to the senator in a timely manner," INS spokesman Dan Kane said.
Mr. Grassley wondered in particular how the center's director, Carol Chasse, rose to that position. He said she was named in 1995 by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General as being "most responsible for a scheme to mislead" a congressional task force during a fact-finding visit to the INS district offices in Miami, including the Krome Service Processing Center.
He said the scheme involved the releasing or transporting of aliens in INS custody so the Krome facility would not appear overcrowded.
Mr. Grassley said the Inspector General's Office concluded Mrs. Chasse was responsible for the Krome ruses, despite her denials. He said the report also said she "bears responsibility for fostering and approving an overall approach to the delegation's visit that was not forthright."
He said investigators recommended that she receive a punishment that would range from a 30-day suspension to termination, but she instead received a one-day suspension and then was put in charge of the LESC.
The senator said he has since received "troubling reports" about Mrs. Chasse's management of the LESC and has asked Mr. Ziglar to explain her one-day suspension and to reveal who made the decision to put her in charge of the LESC.
Mr. Grassley also said he had several questions about the use of criminal investigative agents at the LESC, saying that law enforcement investigative agents have been forbidden to carry weapons inside the facility, that they cannot leave the premises to investigate cases and that they lack Internet access.
"Instead, they are relegated to the task of running the information obtained by the technicians against the INS database and then faxing identification information to local authorities so that they can make an affirmative identification," he said.
He also said that seven supervisory special agents had been assigned to oversee 15 investigative agents.
"I am concerned that, given the purpose of the LESC, the INS is wasting valuable investigative dollars at the LESC," he said.

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