- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

The Senate might give its unanimous consent this week to the nomination of Maura Harty, the State Department's hand-picked successor to former Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Mary Ryan. This would be a tragic mistake.
Ms. Harty's nomination has justifiably encountered strong opposition, both from American parents whose children were abducted and taken to foreign countries and from people concerned about our border security.
On the latter point, Ms. Ryan was forced to "retire" in large measure because of her role in establishing Visa Express, the program that let in three of the September 11 terrorists and where all Saudi residents submitted their visa applications to private Saudi travel agents. Every indication is that Ms. Harty will follow directly in Ms. Ryan's footsteps.
Ms. Harty's nomination has been able to slip under the radar so far, because the position referred to as the head of Consular Affairs (CA) is not "sexy" to conservatives. But it should be. The head of CA oversees all consulates and embassies, and, in effect, determines how foreign policy is implemented on the ground. Most importantly, the CA chief is the person charged with protecting us in a time of war, when the enemy desperately wants to get terrorists into the United States.
Ms. Harty's record speaks much louder than the platitudes she spouts to reassure senators that she will be an "agent of change." Ms. Harty's career is marked by making problems go away without actually fixing them.
When she was in a leadership role in the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Columbia, she fired a whistleblower who was making waves about another employee who happened to be on the payroll of drug-traffickers. Ms. Harty "fixed" the problem by firing the woman who made the accusations accusations that turned out to be true.
In two stints running the Office of Children's Issues, Ms. Harty managed to recover only 1 percent of the American children kidnapped overseas. Parents who had to deal with her say that her record was "one of indifference bordering on hostility" to the interests of the left-behind American parents. Ms. Harty refused to risk "bilateral relations" with any country in order to rescue American children.
We now know that, because of its free visa pass for Saudis, the State Department shares a large amount of the blame for the September 11 terrorists getting into this country and Ms. Harty was a top deputy at CA when most of the terrorists' visas were issued. But Ms. Harty does not seem to care about learning from the State Department's mistakes, as she has yet to review the visa application forms of the 19 terrorists.
That is simply unacceptable and so is her nomination. The Senate must kill Ms. Harty's nomination and demand a real leader be nominated someone willing to ruffle a few foreign feathers in the name of keeping out terrorists and advancing Americans' interests overseas.


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