- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

While he has the power to revoke passports of those traveling to fight in Syria, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday he wants to be careful in using that authority so he doesn’t disrupt any ongoing criminal investigations.

Mr. Kerry told Congress that the U.S. is looking into Americans it knows have traveled to Syria, but canceling passports needs to be done “with sensitivity to certain investigations.” Still, he said, the official stance of the U.S. should be clear.

“What I want to make certain is anybody who has a passport and returns returns in handcuffs, not through customs with a passport,” Mr. Kerry said.

Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have pushed the Obama administration to start revoking passports as a way of making sure fighters don’t have a chance to return to the U.S. and conduct attacks here.

Intelligence officials have estimated more than 100 Americans have traveled to Syria to join the fight — though it’s not clear how many of those are siding with the Islamic State militants who are deemed to be a danger to U.S. interests.

The danger of foreign fighters extends beyond the U.S. to countries such as France, Germany and Britain, who have even higher numbers of their citizens engaged in the fight in Syria.

Pressure is building on Capitol Hill for the Obama administration to suspend countries from the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of several dozen countries to enter the U.S. without the screening required for a visa. Administration officials say other screening is still done, which could weed out potential terrorists even from visa waiver countries.

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