Haphazard Afghan Resettlement a Threat

A year has passed since the final chaotic, bloody U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Today, the feds are trying to figure out what to do about the arriving Afghans and how to best manage those already here. The most pressing question that concerned citizens want answered is which among the new arrivals might pose national security threats.

The Biden administration hasn’t bothered to vet some evacuees’ histories through a Defense Department database that would help distinguish between the good and the bad guys. As Washington Times reporter Steven Dinan noted in his story, “Feds Can’t Say What Happened to Afghan Evacuees in U.S. who were Security Risks, not Fully Vetted,” officials point to clues that the failure to do background checks could result in tragic consequences. For the few in Congress paying attention, alarming discoveries have surfaced that could hint at a terrorist plot. For example, many paroled evacuees have listed their birthday as 9/11, a suspicious coincident.

Consistent with Biden’s “come on in, everyone’s welcome” immigration policy, his administration is still welcoming Afghans. Since last year, the Biden administration has resettled more than 80,000 Afghans, with plans to continue at that pace as long as he remains in office.

The Afghans who made it into the U.S. interior under Operation Allies Welcome include about 77,000 who were airlifted out in July and August last year and 4,000 who have arrived in the intervening period.

From the 77,000, a Pentagon watchdog reported that as of November 2021, 50 of those who reached the U.S. were vetted after their arrival when they were flagged “for significant security concerns” in the Department of Defense Biometric Identification System. DBIDS is a key database that contains information taken from the battlefield. This information might be fingerprints found on a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) or in an ISIS cave. An evacuee flagged suggests that the individual harbors ill intent toward the U.S.

Adding to the concern about lax Afghan evacuee security screening, the Defense Department’s Inspector General said that, at one point, less than 10 percent of those flagged “could be located.” In an understatement, the IG’s audit called the missing flagged evacuees “a potential security risk.”

Specifically, the IG found that Afghan parolees were not vetted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) before releasing them into the country’s interior. At a Senate hearing, FBI director Christopher Wray indicated that he’s aware of vetting glitches. This summer, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced that, as per his updated information, the flagged evacuee total stood at least at 66.

As of today, despite the IG’s report, and even though profound concerns about national security abound, the White House’s focus includes legally settling the evacuees. In early August, Congress introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), which would expand the special immigrant visa for Afghans who helped the U.S. military and would include those who served in the Afghan military. If passed, the act would offer a fast track to permanent legal status for Afghans willing to undergo more thorough vetting, an odd caveat since “thorough” is what the guidelines require in the first place. Given the government’s well-established inability to properly vet, the chances that the AAA, if it became law, would be carried out as written are slim. The federal government has proven time and again that it cannot successfully manage immigration in such a way that citizens benefit.

Biden is determined to press full speed ahead to put evacuees on a citizenship path, a worthy goal for deserving Afghans. But too many undeserving evacuees will eventually become permanent residents and citizens. Biden’s priority is evacuee resettlement – as many as possible and the sooner, the better. National security isn’t on the administration’s agenda.