US bill would tighten loophole
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | August 27, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Marko Boskic, suspected of the mass murder of Bosnian
Muslims, was able to enter the United States and live unmolested in
Massachusetts for more than four years in part because of a key
loophole in US immigration policy, according to government officials.
Only Nazi-era human rights violators are systematically tracked and
investigated by a US government office to prevent entry into the
country, revoke their citizenship, or deport them if they slip through
A bill that has been pending in Congress for five years but has yet to
be approved, the Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act, would expand the
authority of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations
to perpetrators of atrocities elsewhere, including Rwanda, the
Balkans, and Central America.
The office, which has a list of 1,500 individuals suspected of
involvement in Nazi-era war crimes, is widely regarded as one of the
world's most successful organizations in bringing perpetrators of the
Holocaust to justice.
But officials say human rights violators and individuals wanted for
other types of war crimes have eluded a US tracking system for
non-Nazi criminals that is spread throughout different government
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement division at the Department of
Homeland Security has "placed comparatively few, if any, of the
perpetrators of other atrocities that decimated human beings on the
watch list, nor have they denaturalized or deported any of them," said
Richard Krieger, president of International Educational Missions, a
nonprofit agency based in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Krieger, a former State Department official, helps bring war criminals
to justice and has personally recommended individuals for watch lists.
His and other similar organizations estimate that thousands of human
rights violators and war criminals are living freely in the United States.
Boskic, arraigned yesterday in Boston on a charge of lying on his
immigration application at the US consulate in Frankfurt in 2000, has
been cited in court testimony for his alleged role as a commando in
the Bosnian Serb Army unit responsible for killing thousands of
unarmed Muslim men near Srebrenica in 1995. Some 200,000 people died
in the war in Bosnia, when Serb and Croat forces waged a brutal
killing campaign against the country's Muslims.
It remained unclear yesterday whether he was on any watch lists used
by immigration and law enforcement officials to prevent entry or to
track them once they enter the United States.
When asked if there was lapse by officials who accepted Boskic's
contention four years ago that he was a refugee, US Attorney Michael
J. Sullivan said, "Obviously, hindsight being 20-20, I'm sure we much
prefer that we had caught this at the time of the application and had
sufficient evidence to deny the admission, as opposed to allowing
somebody to come into the country allegedly by falsifying their history."
Officials note that in cases where individuals suspected of war crimes
are found in the United States -- especially those like Boskic, who
has not been publicly indicted but has been implicated by witnesses --
bringing charges against them or deporting them requires an exhaustive
investigation to build a case.
Proponents of the bill say that expanding the portfolio of the Justice
Department's Office of Special Investigations to include all human
rights violators from foreign countries would go a long way toward
focusing government attention on the problem.
Globe correspondent Brian Whitmore contributed to this report from
Prague. Bryan Bender can be reached at bender@...
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