A memo from Senate Republicans is refuting President Biden’s claim and that of his administration that more than 82,000 Afghan refugees evacuated to the United States in August amid a deadly, chaotic pullout was not accurate.
“Almost none of the 82,000 people airlifted from Kabul in August were vetted before being admitted to the United States, despite claims to the contrary from the Biden administration, according to a congressional memo summarizing interviews with federal officials who oversaw the effort at domestic and international military bases,” the Washington Examiner reported this week.
“Senior officials across the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Justice described a disastrous screening and vetting process in the memo, drafted by Senate Republicans in late October,” the report added.
“The Biden administration failed to vet the information that tens of thousands of Afghans provided through in-person interviews and relied solely on criminal and terrorist databases to flag bad actors, according to the memo — that is, merely screening, rather than vetting, people brought to the U.S.,” the outlet reported, citing the memo.
The outlet added:
The administration also brought into the U.S. tens of thousands of Afghans who were not qualified. The large majority of people, approximately 75%, evacuated were not American citizens, green card holders, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, or applicants for the visa, three people familiar with the interviews outlined in the memo told the Washington Examiner.
As of early October, just 700 of the 82,000 admitted into the U.S. were determined to hold Special Immigrant Visas, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ranking Republican Rob Portman of Ohio said in a Nov. 4 speech. A Special Immigration Visa, or SIV, is a special classification for foreigners granted permanent residency as a result of aiding the U.S. government during the war on terror. The DHS responded after this story was published stating that 1,800 were SIV holders, as of Sept. 21.
A whistleblower who spoke to the Examiner on condition of anonymity filled in more blanks.
“They created a brand-new, out-of-cloth screening process just for this population,” the source said.
“And then they told everyone, ‘This is what you follow.’ DOD [the Defense Department] was such a heavy part of this, and they follow orders. And so, they’re like, ‘OK, here’s the checklist. I’ll do exactly what the checklist says — no more.’ So, that’s how it happened, but it was centrally managed via DHS [Department of Homeland Security],” the whistleblower continued.
Biden told the country in August that everyone being evacuated would also be vetted.
“Planes taking off from Kabul are not flying directly to the United States,” Biden said in a statement at the time.
“They’re landing at U.S. military bases and transit centers around the world. At these sites where they are landing, we are conducting thorough scrutiny — security screenings for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident,” he continued.
In a statement, DHS claimed that all Afghans were properly screened.
“As with any population entering the United States, DHS, in coordination with interagency vetting partners, takes multiple steps to ensure that those seeking entry do not pose a national security or public safety risk,” DHS officials told the outlet.
“The rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process involves biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from DHS and DOD, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and additional intelligence community partners,” DHS said.
“This process includes reviewing fingerprints, photos, and biographic data for every single Afghan before they are cleared to travel to the United States.”
Others, however, aren’t so sure.
Robert Charles, a former assistant secretary of state during the administration of former President George W. Bush, talked about the vetting issue Friday during an appearance on “FOX and Friends First.”
“That means you’ve got 73,000-plus that you really should have been vetting and that takes time,” Charles said, going on to call the situation a “double tragedy.”
“We’ve left Americans and visa holders and [Special Immigrants Visa] holders and permanent residents and former employees of the embassy back in Afghanistan and we pulled out 73,000 that we really had no basis for pulling out,” he said.
“We have to be right 100% of the time. The bad guys only have to be right 1% of the time,” Charles added.