According to this report, terrorist suspect Umar Abdulmutallab was refused a new visa by Britain and placed on a watch list.

Today Alan Johnson confirmed Abdulmutallab had been refused a new visa and placed on a watch list last May after applying for a bogus course.
Mr Johnson said: “If you are on our watch list then you do not come into this country.
“You can come through this country if you are in transit to another country but you cannot come into this country.”
The Home Secretary said US authorities should theoretically have been informed, and he doubted there had been a “hiccup” in procedures.
American officials have said Abdulmutallab was on one of their “long” watch lists, but was not banned from travelling.

Not only was he not banned from traveling (which he should have been), but the American authorities gave him a visa.
This was mentioned only incidentally in a report that focused on more British terrorists who have been trained in Yemen to attack Western targets:

The British extremists in Yemen are in their early 20s and from Bradford, Luton and Leytonstone, East London.
They are due to return to the UK early in 2010 and will then await internet instructions from al-Qaeda on when to strike.
A Scotland Yard source said: “The great fear is Abdulmutallab is the first of many ready to attack planes and kill tens of thousands.
“We know there are four or five radicalised British Muslim cells in the Yemen.

And what happens if Britain refuses to give them visas too? Will they simply come here?
Is that the way “the system” is supposed to operate?
They have to know these people are going to fly when they give them visas.
Think about it. How else are they going to get here? Give a terrorist a visa, and you’re guaranteeing that he will fly.
Little wonder they want to imprison air passengers in their seats and make air travel nearly impossible. They have created a monster where they know that there will be terrorists among us, for the simple reason that they know they are bringing them here.
Wouldn’t it be easier to stop handing out visas to people in suspicious countries than to punish ordinary passengers and shut down the travel industry?
But this is an old issue.
From a CATO article back in 2002:

If a more restrictive visa policy had been applied to Arab countries in 2000 or earlier, the Sept. 11 attacks would not have unfolded as they did, and probably would have been thwarted altogether. In an ideal world of perfect knowledge, we could treat all visa applicants strictly as individuals. But with imperfect knowledge and limited resources, we need to play the odds, and the odds are that future terrorists, like those of Sept. 11, will be adult males originating from a relatively small group of Muslim-majority countries. Restricting visas and immigration from that part of the world offers the best hope of keeping terrorists out without sacrificing the benefits of an economy open to peaceful trade and immigration.

You’d think we’d have learned.
Instead, our government hands out visas to radicalized Muslim youths trained in Yemen and rejected by Britain — despite warnings from family members.
Such systematic ineptitude (if it is not deliberate) is nothing short of amazing.
(But I guess if the reports that the guy was traveling without a passport are true, then it wouldn’t much matter whether he had a visa or not.)
AFTERTHOUGHT: Is it possible to get a visa if you’re on a no-fly list? Is it possible to be placed on the no-fly if you have a visa?
Sorry to sound so clueless, but I’m just wondering… If they’re on a no-fly list, how are they supposed to get here? Or leave?
MORE: Just out of curiosity (and because I don’t want to let the visa issue cause me to overlook it), I thought I would try to ascertain whether the man had a passport.
Nigerian authorities claim it was scanned, but not in the usual manner:

Reuters reports that his U.S. visa was issued in London in 2008. The head of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren, told Reuters that Abdulmutallab’s passport was scanned at Nigeria’s Lagos airport without the use of the Advance Passenger Information System.

But that report does not quite jibe with this report:

The passenger went through a normal checking process. His passport was scanned, his US Visa was scanned and the APIS (Advanced Passenger Information System) returned with no objection. Passenger was allotted seat number 20B on the Lagos-Amsterdam leg and seat 19A on the Amsterdam-Detroit leg,” the Director-General explained.
The Murtala Muhammed Airport security also has details of Abdulmutallab’s passport and visa information.
Demuren said the bombing suspect possessed a Nigerian Machine Readable Passport (MRP) issued on September 15, 2005 to expire on September 14, 2010 and the passport number is A3921640.
According to the information from the passport, Abdul-mutallab has multiple entry US Visa issued in London, UK on June 16, 2008 to expire June 12, 2010.
The NCAA Director-General said the suspect presented himself for immigration clearance with his Nigerian passport and the passport was scanned into Passenger Registration System, “confirming that passenger went through normal standard security screening procedure.”

It seems to me that it ought to be simple to clear this up.
Over at Freerepublic, they’re already yelling “WHERE’S THE PASSPORT?”

if this story is untrue, WHERE’S THE PASSPORT? I think we need to ask the media to confirm with the FBI whether or not he had a passport.

I think that maybe someone in the MSM should ask the FBI about this after they get back from Hawaii and everything.
I’d hate to see “WHERE’S THE PASSPORT?” become some sort of ghastly rallying cry.
MORE: 2001, A Flashback Odyssey?

A new report accuses the State Department of staggering lapses in its visa program that gave Sept. 11 hijackers entry into the United States.
The political journal National Review obtained the visa applications for 15 of the 19 hijackers — and evidence that all of them should have been denied entry to the country.
Almost all of the hijacker’s visas were issued in Saudi Arabia, at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the U.S. Consulate in Jedda. Terrorist ties aside, the applications themselves should have raised red flags, say experts. The forms are incomplete and often incomprehensible — yet that didn’t stop any of the 15 terrorists for whom the visa applications were obtained from coming to the United States.
The only alleged would-be hijacker who failed to get a visa was Ramzi Binalshibh, who was denied entrance to the United States repeatedly.
“This is a systemic problem,” said Nikolai Wenzel, a former U.S. consular officer. “It’s a problem of sloppiness, it’s a problem of negligence which I would call criminal negligence because obviously, having reviewed all these applications, there is a pattern here.”

Of course, it’s easy to look at this in hindsight now that we have the benefit of hindsight.
We have learned, right? The “pattern” has been corrected, right?
(It’s not as if we didn’t know that visas in the hands of terrorists are weapons….)
UPDATE (12/30/09): According to Dutch authorities, Abdulmutallab had a passport.

(CBS/AP) The suspected terrorist who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 Christmas day did present a passport to authorities in Amsterdam before boarding the Detroit-bound plane, Holland’s counter-terrorism agency said Wednesday.
Abdulmutallab arrived in Amsterdam on Friday from Lagos, Nigeria. After a layover of less than three hours, he passed through a security check at the gate in Amsterdam, including a hand baggage scan and a metal detector, officials said.
Abdulmutallab was carrying a valid Nigerian passport and had a valid U.S. visa, the Dutch said. His name did not appear on any Dutch list of terror suspects.
The confirmation on Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab’s passport comes after a fellow passenger claimed to have seen a possible accomplice help the 23-year-old Nigerian board the flight.

Case closed, I’d say.