Thursday, November 1, 2007

Letter to Eric L. Qualkenbush

January 4, 2007

Mr. Eric L. Qualkenbush
15647 Thornwood Drive
Findlay, Ohio 45840-9765

RE: Visa Program at Jeddah

Dear Eric:

I'm sorry I couldn't reach you by telephone over the holidays. I had wanted to talk to you about the visa program run out of the Jeddah consulate.

As you know, the CIA had recruiting offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, and somewhere in the Eastern Province. With Osama bin Laden's help, they rounded up fighters for the Afghan War, sent them to Jeddah for visas, and then brought them to the U.S. for training, rewards, debriefing, and so on. Then they were packed off to Afghanistan to shoot things down and blow things up, hopefully with Soviet military personnel inside. What I had sought, when I called you, was answers to some of the following:

Why wasn't I informed about the program? As visa officer, I would have issued to the questionable applicants if the process had been explained to me. Did you all think that I had been clued in by someone in Washington, and then refused to follow instructions?

Was there a split between Jay Freres and the other Clandestine Service members about this? All the pressure to give visas to peculiar applicants came from him and not from you, the nominal Base Chief.

Who were the others connected to the program, i.e., those outside of Jeddah, in Riyadh or Dhahran, or Washington, D.C.?

How many visa applicants with clean passports and believable cover stories were there?

Where, exactly, were the recruiting offices in Saudi Arabia?

Who was it that shredded the file I had kept on the demands for illegal visas?

Who finally wised up Greta Holz, my predecessor, getting her to stop her complaints about the visa program? And why was she told not to talk to me about what went on in Jeddah?

Whose idea was it not to tell me about the program? And why?

Given the events of the past 5 years, with 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers getting their visas from Jeddah, added to those formerly recruited now operating in Iraq and Afghanistan against U.S. personnel, have you or others had second thoughts about the Jeddah program? If so,
who and why?

Please give me a call. After 20 years, I'd like to fill in some of the blanks.

Sincerely yours,

J. Michael Springmann