According to a devastating audit by the department’s inspector general, the Homeland Security Department failed to thoroughly vet some of the Afghan evacuees it brought into the country during the airlift last year. The audit also warned that some individuals who “posed a risk to national security” were in fact permitted entry.
One evacuee who had recently been freed from a Taliban jail was given permission to enter the United States. Another evacuee made it to the United States and was freed, but three months later the FBI came to the conclusion that they “presented national security issues.”
According to the audit, which was made public on Tuesday, the evacuation was put together so quickly that the agency created procedures on the spot and made screening judgments “on an ad hoc basis.” The inspector general stated, “As a result, DHS admitted or paroled more persons of concern and may have paroled at least two individuals who constituted a risk to national security and the safety of local communities.”
At a U.S. airport, the prisoner was even marked when he arrived. An audit revealed that despite a passport screener for Customs and Border Protection seeing “derogatory” data in the system, a supervisor decided to release the evacuee.
The FBI re-flagged the evacuee three weeks later. The subject was taken into custody and deported by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The revelation runs counter to the Biden administration’s assurances of a seamless operation with meticulous evacuee screening. According to the audit, those who provided names or dates of birth that were “questionable” were nonetheless permitted entry. Whatever age the refugees claimed to be, U.S. officials just issued a January 1 birthday to them.
Over 11,000 names out of over 89,000 were recorded as having birthdates on January 1. 242 people were identified with no known last name, while another 417 had no known first name.
As a result, they were unable to be adequately compared to the government’s databases, which increased the possibility that even more hazardous individuals were accepted among the Afghan refugees, according to the inspector general.
It was difficult for DHS to thoroughly screen and vet the evacuees because of cultural differences and dubious information in the biographic fields, the inspector general claimed.
The conclusions were hotly contested by Homeland Security. The department’s dependence on outside organizations to assist with the screening, it claimed, was neglected by the study. Jim H. Crumpacker, Homeland Security’s liaison to the inspector general, stated in the department’s answer that “CBP was only one aspect of an interagency screening and vetting process and did, in fact, screen, vet, and inspect all Afghan nationals” at the airport.
He disregarded the inspector general’s two suggestions to create a more effective contingency strategy for similar disasters and to create a “recurrent” vetting procedure to re-check evacuees.
Mr. Crumpacker stated that evacuatees already go through ongoing screening. He said that the former inmate’s subsequent detection and deportation is evidence that the system “functions as planned.”
The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the National Counterterrorism Center; and other partners in the intelligence community were listed by DHS spokesman Angelo Fernandez in a subsequent statement as the organizations involved in the level of checks Afghans underwent.
In accordance with OAW, he added, “Afghan nationals who did not pass these checks were not authorized to travel to the United States.” According to congressional investigators, the issue with that is the checks themselves, which frequently utilized false information from the Afghans and occasionally failed to search the appropriate databases.
The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and an Ohio senator named Rob Portman called the report “extremely disturbing” and asked the Biden administration to change direction and abide with the inspector general’s recommendations.
As we approach the 21st anniversary of 9/11, Mr. Portman stated, “I support the resettlement of Afghans who fought alongside us and our allies over the last 20 years, but the United States faces an increased threat due to this administration’s catastrophic evacuation of Afghans without rigorous or thorough vetting.”
Afghans were evacuated from Kabul and dropped off to “lily pad” locations in foreign nations where American authorities were to use government databases to confirm their names and fingerprints. The evacuees were awarded “green status” and allowed to enter the United States without having to undergo any in-person interviews if those checks revealed no red flags. Those who were flagged were assigned “red status” and were not permitted to board aircraft until an investigation was completed and they were awarded green status.
They underwent the same passport scrutiny as other foreign visitors upon their arrival in the United States. According to the audit, as of March, at least 35 evacuees who did not have green status boarded aircraft and 1,300 people were given the all-clear to travel despite not having their fingerprints checked. The 35 were required to have “green status” upon arrival at a U.S. airport, according to Customs and Border Protection. Although it wasn’t the desired timing, the status was announced prior to their publication.
According to the report, several personnel attributed the screening errors to directives to expedite the procedure for Afghans. The government assured the other hosts that the evacuees wouldn’t be there for very long.
The United States pledged to screen each evacuee in less than 10 days in Germany, where more than 40,000 people were tricked through the system. There were 14 days in Italy. With almost 10,000 evacuees, Qatar was more kind with 30 days.
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