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Thread: Russia and the US

  1. #21
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Ken !

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Just because I'm the only one here whose clothing record documents the issue of a "Fig Leaf, Winter Service, Green"...
    Actually, I think Goesh has you beat when he pinned Christ's E-4 stripes on What, no Olive Drab back then ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Heh. Even as long ago as when I was in Tehran the common complaint from the Iraniha who applied was that they could get a UK Visa in three days with two signatures and a US Visa took weeks and four signatures. Bureaucracy r us.
    Precisely ! Your point is just what I wanted to hear. The US Visa denial record here in the 90s was so abysmal, that Estonians and Russians were trying to apply in Canada and Finland (although that doesn't work well without a registered domicile (there)).

    I wish it was that easy to say Bureaucracy was at fault. Fact is, the Consular is often the most junior officer with exactly 0.0001 days of time in service. With his/her departure for the first post, the riot act from not only State, but INS is read. Zero Tolerance...Fear Factor at post is then amplified to plus 10.

    I might add that this situation involves a friendly nation

    If the FSO is lazy and let's the FSN do the brunt of duties processing the visa, there's more than enough room for error and/or Slippin and a Sliding

    Regards, Stan

  2. #22
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    You just couldn't leave at least one acronym alone so the rest of us could keep up
    They changed from Marine Security Guard Battalion (MSG Bn) to Marine Corps Embassy Security Command (MCESC) right smack in the middle of a computer purchase that I was running for them. We had computers going to III MEF SOTG, MCMWTC Bridgeport, and MSG Bn. Changing all of the req forms in the middle of acquisition from MSG to MCESC made me want to get in a fetal position and cry in the shower. The admin wizards at C4I were taking sniper shots at my paperwork throughout the whole process.

    Everything worked out in the long run. WAWA didn't beat me this time. 15 detachments have two highend laptops (each, 30 computers total) in Sahel Africa and they are learning to sprechen sie french

  3. #23
    Council Member Brian Hanley's Avatar
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    Default Sorry to be a bit late here.

    My days in the caucasus are barely over. Just shut down end of 2005. And I had an excellent girlfriend who was a Russian homicide cop for a while there. Who was pumping whom, and for what? Now that is a question.

    What I'm telling you about corruption and visas is my experience based on pricing I acquired in the FSU. Now I hung with some interesting folks at times, but I ain't making it up. It's not my job to report that kind of stuff, and yes, I know how much of a battle it is to get anyone at the embassy to listen. We Americans want red hot proof and unequivocal evidence. All very tiresome and dangerous as hell to someone in country and to those who remain behind. We Americans are experts in bureaucratic form over substance these days. It's a problem and it's a weakness that most definitely is exploited. Just because 4 signatures are required doesn't mean that each signatory examines them for accuracy better. Come, come. You all are in the military bureaucracy. Never gotten a signature on something your boss didn't read through?

    My recommendation is to make it a single signature system. Why? Because that narrows responsibility down to one person who is on the hook for it. That means that audit can sample visas and go over them with a fine tooth comb. The more signatures you put on a paper, the more it spreads the blame.

    The vast majority of those acquiring visas this way are just ordinary folks, no better or worse than anyone else wanting "to get out of fookin' Rocciya". It's a low priority on my stack. Very low.

    Maybe I should hang out a shingle? "Corruption Specialist"
    Last edited by Brian Hanley; 11-05-2007 at 02:51 AM.

  4. #24
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not a problem, there is life beyond the internet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    ...
    Come, come. You all are in the military bureaucracy. Never gotten a signature on something your boss didn't read through?
    Actually we're all retired. Can't speak for the others but for me the answer to your question is no -- not because I'm Joe Straight Arrow but because that kind of stupidity almost always gets caught so it's a waste of effort and I'm lazy. And State is far more bureaucratic than the Army...

    My recommendation is to make it a single signature system. Why? Because that narrows responsibility down to one person who is on the hook for it. That means that audit can sample visas and go over them with a fine tooth comb. The more signatures you put on a paper, the more it spreads the blame.
    Good plan. If you aren't into reporting stuff but are convinced there's a weakness and care enough to mention it, you could always write about it on a weblog.

    The vast majority of those acquiring visas this way are just ordinary folks, no better or worse than anyone else wanting "to get out of fookin' Rocciya". It's a low priority on my stack. Very low
    Yeah, I have low priority stuff also. Rarely mention it at all.

    Maybe I should hang out a shingle? "Corruption Specialist"
    I dunno. What with all the debates about scientific ethics nowadays that might not be a good plan.

  5. #25
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    My recommendation is to make it a single signature system. Why? Because that narrows responsibility down to one person who is on the hook for it. That means that audit can sample visas and go over them with a fine tooth comb. The more signatures you put on a paper, the more it spreads the blame.
    How many signatures are on a visa?

  6. #26
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Paul,

    Quote Originally Posted by nichols View Post
    How many signatures are on a visa?
    The answer is none ! The foil contains typical info about the traveler along with a digital photo.

    The forms used for processing US Visas (DS-156 for non-immigrant visas and in addition DS-157 for all men, ages 16 to 45) can have as many as 5 signatories. The host government's MFA plays an important role and may also provide a signature, but rarely does.

    The counselor is on the hook as Brian puts it, regardless of how many people are in the chain or process.

    Hey Brian,

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    My days in the caucasus are barely over. Just shut down end of 2005.

    What I'm telling you about corruption and visas is my experience based on pricing I acquired in the FSU. Now I hung with some interesting folks at times, but I ain't making it up.
    So these people that you are referring to, bought their US Visas as late as 2005 ? I remain concerned that these typical everyday Russian citizens are still illegally obtaining US Visas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    It's not my job to report that kind of stuff, and yes, I know how much of a battle it is to get anyone at the embassy to listen. We Americans want red hot proof and unequivocal evidence. All very tiresome and dangerous as hell to someone in country and to those who remain behind. We Americans are experts in bureaucratic form over substance these days. It's a problem and it's a weakness that most definitely is exploited. Just because 4 signatures are required doesn't mean that each signatory examines them for accuracy better.
    Paul and I were thinking about reporting these instances a lot higher than the very same Embassy where visas are being sold. Quite frankly, reporting such instances is every American's job.

    Such an 'exploitable area of the US Embassy in Moscow' should not be permitted to continue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    Come, come. You all are in the military bureaucracy. Never gotten a signature on something your boss didn't read through?
    That's barely a good comparison to selling US Visas to 'perfectly normal Russians'. If they can't get the visa in a legal fashion, then there's obviously a reason why.

  7. #27
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    The answer is none ! The foil contains typical info about the traveler along with a digital photo.
    I knew I'd get the straight scoop from you, no way in hell was I going to ask Lenka that question at 0 dark thirty when I posted.

  8. #28
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Brian,

    I haven't been able to figureout how a microbiology specialist working for a drug company not associated with the State Department in Central Asia knows about a visa blackmarket. Did you witness it firsthand or was it by word of mouth from other sources?

    You really need to report this.

  9. #29
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nichols View Post
    I knew I'd get the straight scoop from you, no way in hell was I going to ask Lenka that question at 0 dark thirty when I posted.
    I feel like I've been used by the USMC You were sufficiently concerned about waking the better half

  10. #30
    Council Member Brian Hanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    So these people that you are referring to, bought their US Visas as late as 2005 ? I remain concerned that these typical everyday Russian citizens are still illegally obtaining US Visas.
    What I'll say about that is that in Tbilisi circa 2003-2005 the specific method I was aware of was for the local jewish group to certify people as jews, and for information to be cleaned. I do not know of a specific instance of buying a visa through payoffs to embassies in that period from 2000-2005. However, I have no particular reason to think that it did not happen after a brief post 9-11 lull. The fundamental conditions and motivations have not changed. Our systems are just as vulnerable as they were.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Paul and I were thinking about reporting these instances a lot higher than the very same Embassy where visas are being sold. Quite frankly, reporting such instances is every American's job.
    I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree. There are multiple reasons why coming down on such arrangements could jeopardize bigger fish by far than that. It is a much better thing to understand that no system is perfect. Improve audit methods and personnel. That will make a difference.

    Believe me, if I thought someone was coming through that way that was a serious hazard I'd let it be known.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    That's barely a good comparison to selling US Visas to 'perfectly normal Russians'. If they can't get the visa in a legal fashion, then there's obviously a reason why.
    Absolute nonsense. Embassy personnel do what the like and make arbitrary decisions constantly. Anyone that has had to deal with them from the other side knows this quite well. Here's an example. I gave a recommendation to one Major Konstantine Gigitashvili, an Afghan war veteran of the Soviets, to go to work for KBR as a contractor. They interviewed him, said they'd hire him and signed him up. To do so, however, he was required to attend training in Texas. (Don't ask me why. Clearly KBR has no idea what a chore it is to get people from the developing world into the USA unless they are academics.) He went to the embassy to get a visa with my letter of recommendation and was literally yelled at by the woman at the embassy. She said she would never let him have a visa because "You want to emigrate!" This was pure horsemanure. She was just implementing her private feud against the Bush administration and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, that's a guy who came close to putting his life on the line for me, and did some things for us. He's very pro-USA, a Major in the Georgian Army who most recently fought against the Russians around Tskhinvali in south Ossetia. So, Konstantine is cooling his heels in Tbilisi. We still write each other once in a while. Mostly he tells me what a Casanova sock-puppet that idiot Saakishvili is.

  11. #31
    Council Member Brian Hanley's Avatar
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    Default An example of what I really care about.

    I got reports from Tbilisi that the Iranians were buying up nice looking white boy orphans from orphanages there. All between 5 and 7 years of age in good health. Now, you might ask why I would care about that?

    Take a look at the history of the Janissaries. Those boys are almost certainly being trained in Iran as we speak to become highly trained, smart terrorist weapons against the West. They will be taught to speak American English, they will be taught how to act and dress and they will be filled with a great purpose and turned loose. That, I think matters.

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It does matter. A great deal.

    Thanks for posting it.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan
    Quite frankly, reporting such instances is every American's job.

    .....That's barely a good comparison to selling US Visas to 'perfectly normal Russians'. If they can't get the visa in a legal fashion, then there's obviously a reason why.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley
    .......Believe me, if I thought someone was coming through that way that was a serious hazard I'd let it be known....

    ...Embassy personnel do what the like and make arbitrary decisions constantly....
    So, you arrogate to yourself full knowledge that there is no one "coming through that way that was a serious hazard" as a justification for not reporting illegal activity that could pose a potentially significant threat to US security. Of course, you also buttress that with a complaint about embassy bureaucratic arbitrariness that, as true as it may be, is also beside the point.

    Your statements reflect a serious lack of integrity. I also have doubts of your veracity - or, perhaps, it is just that your naivete in relations with the indig is overwhelming. Could go either way, or be a bit of both....

  14. #34
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    I got reports from Tbilisi that the Iranians were buying up nice looking white boy orphans from orphanages there. All between 5 and 7 years of age in good health. Now, you might ask why I would care about that?

    Take a look at the history of the Janissaries. Those boys are almost certainly being trained in Iran as we speak to become highly trained, smart terrorist weapons against the West. They will be taught to speak American English, they will be taught how to act and dress and they will be filled with a great purpose and turned loose. That, I think matters.
    First and foremost my apologies if I appear slightly lost with your recent post. We’ve gone from selling and manipulating oil and oil prices to granting free visas to Russians (even if that amounts to more spies in the USA), to visas for ordinary Russian citizens (who want out of Russia), to uncertified Jewish folks in Georgia, and now young boys being purchased for future apprenticeship training programs in Iran.

    Huh ?

  15. #35
    Council Member Brian Hanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    So, you arrogate to yourself full knowledge that there is no one "coming through that way that was a serious hazard" as a justification for not reporting illegal activity that could pose a potentially significant threat to US security. Of course, you also buttress that with a complaint about embassy bureaucratic arbitrariness that, as true as it may be, is also beside the point.
    Beside the point? It's a reason why people go around to get to this land of the free by hook or by crook. With what, 15 million illegals in the USA right now, a few people slipping through from the FSU is going to rile me? No.

    You are welcome to go and make such a case to State. Be my guest. After you've knocked yourself out, have a beer on me.

  16. #36
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    What I'll say about that is that in Tbilisi circa 2003-2005 the specific method I was aware of was for the local jewish group to certify people as jews, and for information to be cleaned. I do not know of a specific instance of buying a visa through payoffs to embassies in that period from 2000-2005. However, I have no particular reason to think that it did not happen after a brief post 9-11 lull. The fundamental conditions and motivations have not changed. Our systems are just as vulnerable as they were.
    You can't even fathom what post 9/11 did to Embassies around the world A brief lull ? In operations ? What, did they all go on vacation ?
    Our systems are only vulnerable when folks conclude on their own, that reporting instances of illegal activity are 'somebody else's job'. Please don't tell me that those 'Stateless people' are now buying US Visas.

    I was TDY in Tbilisi when the embassy first reopened and Georgia was similar to the wild, wild West. Got news for you though, we didn't have nor did we need a Counselor officer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree. There are multiple reasons why coming down on such arrangements could jeopardize bigger fish by far than that. It is a much better thing to understand that no system is perfect. Improve audit methods and personnel. That will make a difference.

    Believe me, if I thought someone was coming through that way that was a serious hazard I'd let it be known.
    Had you consulted with DS and the FBI in order to determine that there are bigger fish and reporting visa fraud was otherwise useless ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    Absolute nonsense. Embassy personnel do what the like and make arbitrary decisions constantly. Anyone that has had to deal with them from the other side knows this quite well. Here's an example. I gave a recommendation to one Major Konstantine Gigitashvili, an Afghan war veteran of the Soviets, to go to work for KBR as a contractor. They interviewed him, said they'd hire him and signed him up. To do so, however, he was required to attend training in Texas. (Don't ask me why. Clearly KBR has no idea what a chore it is to get people from the developing world into the USA unless they are academics.) He went to the embassy to get a visa with my letter of recommendation and was literally yelled at by the woman at the embassy. She said she would never let him have a visa because "You want to emigrate!" This was pure horsemanure. She was just implementing her private feud against the Bush administration and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, that's a guy who came close to putting his life on the line for me, and did some things for us. He's very pro-USA, a Major in the Georgian Army who most recently fought against the Russians around Tskhinvali in south Ossetia. So, Konstantine is cooling his heels in Tbilisi. We still write each other once in a while. Mostly he tells me what a Casanova sock-puppet that idiot Saakishvili is.

    As I indicated in my previous posts, the Counselor bears sole responsibility for visa approval and denial (via INS). Even the Ambo cannot legally intervene. Had KBR gone through State channels and requested a visa referral and backed that request with documentation, the request would have been forwarded directly to INS and the Counselor. Bottom line, the request starts in the States. Your letter of recommendation as an Expat in Georgia carried no weight. That, is the way it goes even today.

  17. #37
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    Default ahhh, now it makes sense!

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    I got reports from Tbilisi that the Iranians were buying up nice looking white boy orphans from orphanages there. All between 5 and 7 years of age in good health. Now, you might ask why I would care about that?

    Take a look at the history of the Janissaries. Those boys are almost certainly being trained in Iran as we speak to become highly trained, smart terrorist weapons against the West. They will be taught to speak American English, they will be taught how to act and dress and they will be filled with a great purpose and turned loose. That, I think matters.
    Personally, I think all those alleged US visas are being bought by Iranian agents for kidnapped Georgian orphans--who are even now being trained by the MOIS and the IRGC to infiltrate University of Chicago Press and various graduate anthropology programs, with the ultimate aim of creating havoc in the future development of US military doctrine by insisting that field manuals adhere to academic citation standards.

    I propose Stan be dispatched with a bevy of biker chicks to sort this all out.

    (How's that for pulling together all the threads?)

    Otherwise, I'm inclined to agree with Ted.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hanley View Post
    Beside the point? It's a reason why people go around to get to this land of the free by hook or by crook. With what, 15 million illegals in the USA right now, a few people slipping through from the FSU is going to rile me? No.
    "The point" is not the broader case of illegal immigration. It is your claim to have direct knowledge of illegal activity occurring overseas that has a potential impact on national security, then dismissing any responsibility for reporting it either while in-country or upon return to the US.

    On the contrary, the manner in which you structure your statements on this matter at best minimizes the importance of the issue, at worst, they imply that you support such activity in contravention of "embassy arbitrariness".

    If your statements are true, then you have a serious integrity issue.

    If your statements are false, then you simply have the less-serious integrity issue of being a liar.

    Finally, I caution you to consider the background of the membership on this board when before you respond to, or create threads.

    In any case, this thread is now closed.

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