Inspector General Report: DHS Unable to Properly Vet Afghan Evacuees Who Posed National Security Risk
Just over a week after the first anniversary of our rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its much-anticipated report regarding the Afghan evacuation vetting process. While alarming, I think it’s safe to say the results were not surprising to any Americans.
Even less surprising was the White House’s reaction, which was identical to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) reaction, which of course, was agitation. It’s a wonder that Americans at large lack trust in the institutions that operate within the government.
With scenes of the hectic withdrawal still raw in many American minds and especially for veterans like myself who worked with many Afghans knowing who we granted access to our country and, perhaps more critical, who we didn’t bring to the US is a question that must be answered. So let’s take a look at what the report said.
From a year ago — my warnings about a massive airlift of unvetted Afghans to America.
I was pilloried among lefty blue checks, including MSNBC prime time shows which called me racist.
I was right.
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) September 8, 2022
In its report, the OIG finds that DHS failed to “properly” vet Afghan evacuees because their poor practices allowed individuals into the US who posed a “risk to national security.” The report states explicitly:
“C.B.P.’s (Customs and Border Patrol) use of incomplete or inaccurate data would not have yielded positive matches from intelligence databases if the individuals had derogatory records under a different name or D.O.B.”
Naturally, this leads to the following obvious assumption :
“Therefore, D.H.S. and C.B.P. cannot be sure they properly screened, vetted, and inspected all evacuees.”
Here comes the terrifying bit that days before the 21st anniversary of the attacks on our homeland on September 11th :
“We found they paroled at least two individuals into the United States who may have posed a risk to national security and the safety of local communities and may have admitted or paroled more individuals of concern.”
However, if you ask the White House or DHS, the OIG report is an unfair depiction of what happened.
1yr after Biden admins disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan we are continuing to learn abt major gaps in vetting Afghan evacuees 2Day DHS watchdog report confirms more major failures to conduct full vetting on thousands of evacuees Thats no way to protect the homeland
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 8, 2022
Karine Jean-Pierre: Nothing to see here
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been busy at the podium fielding tough questions for the last two weeks. When asked about the OIG report on Afghanistan, Ms. Jean-Pierre said :
“That very report did not take into account the key steps in that rigorous and multi-layered screening and vetting process the U.S. government took before at risk Afghans were permitted to come to the U.S.”
It sounds like Jean-Pierre got her talking points from DHS because it’s almost word for word from their official response to the report. A DHS spokesperson elaborated on these multi-layered steps :
“If derogatory information, whether related to public safety or national security, becomes available after an individual enters the United States, D.H.S. and our federal partners take appropriate action, such as opening a criminal investigation, commencing a prosecution, revoking parole, and/or placing the individual in removal proceedings.”
It’s not very comforting that our safety hinges on vetting practices that hang their hat on catching nefarious characters AFTER arriving in our country. Here I thought the goal was to actually vet folks BEFORE they enter the United States.
I CANNOT believe that THIS is our “Commander-in-Chief.” Whet a sad embarrassment…
Stephanopoulos: "We've seen Afghans falling [from a plane]…"
Pres. Biden: "That was four days ago, five days ago!"pic.twitter.com/IeHESb9ZgU
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 19, 2021
Republican Senators are NOT buying it
Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman, member of the Homeland Security Committee, said of these results:
“The lack of appropriate screening and vetting of Afghan evacuees by this administration is reminiscent of a pre-9/11 security mindset.”
This report isn’t the first time we’ve heard whispers that the vetting process wasn’t perhaps as robust as the Biden administration made it out to be a year ago.
In February of this year, a Pentagon report estimated that approximately 50 evacuees were granted access to our country with “potentially serious security concerns.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri was one of two Senators who wrote a letter to the Pentagon after a whistleblower claimed at least 324 individuals evacuated from Afghanistan were on the agency’s watchlist. Unfortunately, like most things run by the government, I’m not entirely sure we will ever have a firm grasp of how many questionable evacuees we allowed into our country.
Regardless of what the DHS says, the OIG is sticking with their report stating in response :
“Although the Department asserted it provided sufficient evidence that all individuals were properly screened, vetted, and inspected, we could not confirm this assertion and reported data inaccuracies.”
I’m glad to see the OIG hold their ground and now back down to political pressure.
It’s now been more than a year since the Biden administration’s seemingly slapdash withdrawal from Afghanistan – where are we now with evacuees?
19 years of war in Iraq = instability & “failed state”
20 years of war in Afghanistan = Taliban takeover in days
Supporters & architects of these wars in Washington: We should go to war with Iran, trust us. https://t.co/AgaqV4220M
— Assal Rad (@AssalRad) September 8, 2022
Afghan and Ukrainian refugees held to different standards
From July of last year until January of this year, the United State has accepted over 79,000 Afghan refugees according to the OIG.
Of the 60,000 Afghan nationals evacuated during last year’s chaotic withdrawal, September 2021 reports put the number of Afghan evacuees that held a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) at just 3%.
In fact, as of March this year, it was estimated that we left behind around 78,000 former interpreters and other Afghan nationals who worked for the American government and had applied for SIVs.
Many of us don’t realize that applying for refuge in the US isn’t free, at least not for Afghans. Advocates report that Afghan SIV applicants must pay a $575 administrative fee, provide proof of vaccination, and attend an in-person interview with someone from the US consulate.
In comparison, it costs the Ukrainian evacuees nothing, there is no proof of vaccination required, and no interview.
Honestly, while I could afford $575, that’s still a pretty high price tag. Compare that to the median annual per capita income in Afghanistan, which is $400, and that is an impossible mountain to climb.
But perhaps our Afghan partners are looking for other ways to get to the United States.
For the past 8 months, #USCIS has been telling Afghans that it is impossible to adjudicate your 40k humanitarian parole application within years, but they approved Ukraine's 6K application within 15 days. Afghans pay $575 per application, but Ukrainians pay 0 and get a refund.
— Neda Halim ??? (@Nedahalim) May 21, 2022
Afghan refugees aren’t walking across the US border, or are they?
There have been reports that Afghans find it easier to obtain a humanitarian visa through Brazil and that many are making the dangerous trek from Brazil to the United States through the southern border. But there isn’t a crisis at the southern border, at least that’s what we’ve been told.
Border patrol reported that last year they apprehended 36 Afghans at the border. In 2022 that number has jumped 1,000% to 420 Afghans who have been apprehended trying to cross the southern border.
The unfortunate truth is that no one knows where all Afghan evacuees have landed, who they are, and precisely what has happened to those we promised to care for. C.E.O. of Human Rights First Mike Breen states the same :
“A year later, neither we nor the U.S.G. really knows in any comprehensive way where everyone ended up or how many there even are.”
And history will judge us for that.