FB pixel

Former 9/11 Commission counsel recommends ways to improve travel ban executive order


Janice Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP released a statement regarding President Donald Trump’s “Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (Jan. 27, 2017), as well as offered some recommendations as to how to improve on the plan.

President Trump’s executive order temporarily prohibits nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country, along with calling for the expedited development of a national biometric ID program for non-citizens entering and leaving the U.S.

In her statement, the former 9/11 Commission border counsel and Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee speaks out against the executive order.

“As President Trump’s ‘travel ban’ executive order gains more notoriety and the 9th Circuit has now essentially banned the travel ban, it is important that our national discourse regain a level of objectivity about whether the order is worth fixing, and if so, how,” said Kephart. “I believe that while the ‘travel ban’ section of the order is completely unnecessary and discriminatory, the Order’s underlying goal to prevent terrorist entry by properly establishing identity, retains value.

“First, the President gets right that identity is critical to national and border security, and assuring that an identity is not affiliated with terrorism is equally important. But let’s be clear: as a nation we can never be 100 percent sure we have determined who intends to do us harm, and who does not. The question really is ‘how do we minimize the risk of terrorist entry?’ Not ‘how do we stop terrorist entry?’ The former question is about accepting the real risk of terrorist entry, while the second is a fantasy that terrorist entry can be 100 percent stopped.”

Kephart goes on to state that the “President’s use of the 9/11 Commission’s phrase ‘assuring that people are who they say they are,’ is useful, but unfortunately misconstrued.”

According to Kephart, the executive order justifies the temporary ‘travel ban’ by erroneously implying that someone may be a terrorist if they are of Muslim religion from one of these listed countries, and therefore prohibiting that person from entering the country until it is proven that they are not a threat.

She says it is “fully impractical” to expect foreign nationals or even the U.S. government to prove that an individual is not a terrorist because “identity is a positive attribute”.

This can only be established through means of biometrics affiliated with biographic information taken from the person’s ID such as a passport, but it is impossible for Customs and Border Protection to “assure who they are not, i.e. a terrorist,” Kephart says.

She states that the “President’s temporary travel ban focusing on specific countries may have been relevant 20 years ago when terrorist activity was more defined and confined, it is not justified when terrorist activity is often internet-grown, defuse and as worldwide as it is today.”

Kephart makes several recommendations for improving the plan, stating that the President’s order should be “laser-focused on continued improvement of objective, across-the-board, standard vetting processes that are designed to facilitate legitimate travel while stopping those that pose a risk.”

These enhancements include merging biometrics into watchlisting and sharing such lists appropriately among the military, FBI, intelligence, homeland security communities and appropriate allies; biometric exit implementation at U.S. ports of entry; appropriate interviews for visas and admissions; requiring all visa waiver countries – and eventually the world – to adopt U.S. biometric pre-clearance, pre-boarding admissions procedures; and international support for counterfeit-resistant travel documents, including passports, and increased support for INTERPOL’s lost and stolen passport database”.

Earlier this month, Mark Crego and Janice Kephart formed a new independent identity strategy consultancy firm called Identity Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP), which is designed to provide technical and policy expertise in the identity market.

Article Topics

 |   |   |   |   |   | 

Latest Biometrics News


Secure Technology Alliance launches template for using mobile driver’s licenses

Get used to the idea of your phone as your driver’s license. The ecosystem for mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) continues…


Biometric identity verification launches and deals show diversity of approaches

The biometric identity verification market covers a wide variety of sectors and use cases, but the breadth is not just…


Decentralized digital identity is spreading as fresh use cases emerge

A recent post on Forrester’s website, written by VP and Principal Analyst Andras Cser, dips into how travel and mobile…


Cameroon building Digital Transformation Center to manage digital consular services

As part of a process launched last year by the government of Cameroon to modernize its consular services including the…


UK digital visas to fully replace physical immigration documents by 2025

In the UK, the Home Office has announced that it will invite those with physical immigration documents to create a…


iBeta biometric PAD evaluations grow in global prominence

Compliance with biometric presentation attack detection standards has become table stakes for numerous applications of face biometrics in particular, and…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Read From This Week

Featured Company

Biometrics Insight, Opinion

Digital ID In-Depth

Biometrics White Papers

Biometrics Events