Written by Staff Writer at CNN
The use of camouflage passports and flying cars is as far-fetched as the idea of someone eating pasta for breakfast. But in the world of top-secret military operations, these might appear to be close to being reality.
One U.S. congressional panel is looking into a series of laws that specifically exempt U.S. citizens from certain bans on visas, passports and weapons across other countries.
One concern raised by lawmakers in the House Homeland Security Committee was a loss of counterterrorism capabilities by the U.S. to communicate about foreign enemies.
However, there is also a real concern that U.S. citizens could unwittingly violate the laws.
A visible license plate on a car in Newark. H.R. Haldeman/Kramer Media/Corbis via Getty Images
CNN reporter Chris Morris wrote in his “Ask Me Anything” chat on Reddit that he had been the victim of a scam: someone posing as a U.S. immigration officer had called him up with instructions to remove his license plate.
Morris also says that criminals (and almost certainly non-criminals) might be picking up license plates at car auctions and selling them online. But it could also be that U.S. citizens are unwittingly selling their plates overseas, which could legally put them at risk of arrest.
“As an American (like me), I find this much more strange than worrying,” he said.
In 2016, Belgian authorities arrested three men — a Ukrainian, a Russian, and a Bosnian national — who were selling plates. At the time, the Global Strategic Threats branch of the Belgian Embassy in Washington, DC, wrote on Facebook that the Russians were behind it.
A parking lot in Sharpsburg, Virginia, just outside Washington. Hallie Hoffman/CNN
The same year, however, Homeland Security is reported to have accused “heavily criminal Ukrainian-Israeli” ring members of having planted 100,000 fake passports in the Ukraine.
This effort — along with “Abolishing Visa Choices for Americans” campaign in recent years — is modeled on the MO of the notorious GRU, which is Russia’s main intelligence services.