Department of Defense: ‘U.S. Agencies Did Not Vet Afghan Evacuees Using All Available DoD Data’

Afghanistan
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an East Room event on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan at the White House July 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

February 21, 2022

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released an Inspector General report last week evaluating the resettlement of Afghan refugees within the United States. The DoD found that at least 50 Afghans who may pose security risks were not vetted prior to being released into the country.

The report says that it wasn’t until after the potential threats were already lost within the United States that the National Counter‑Terrorism Center (NCTC) identified these individuals. The lost individuals are considered “potentially significant security concerns” who, based on that information, would not be ineligible for a visa or parole.

As a result of the error, the U.S. may “mistakenly grant SIV [special immigrant visas]…to Afghan evacuees with derogatory information.”

“NGIC [National Ground Intelligence Agency] personnel identified Afghans with derogatory information from the DoD ABIS [Automated Biometric Identification System] database who were already in the United States. When NGIC personnel began their analytic review, they developed informal procedures to notify both the DoD and interagency stakeholders about these individuals. Subsequently, the NGIC relied on a broad dissemination list, with the expectation that individual base commanders would attempt to identify if the Afghan of concern was located on their base.

As a result of the NCTC not vetting Afghan evacuees against all available data, the United States faces potential security risks if individuals with derogatory information are allowed to stay in the country. In addition, the U.S. Government could mistakenly grant SIV or parolee status to ineligible Afghan evacuees with derogatory information gathered from the DoD ABIS database.”

Biometric data refers to using physical characteristics for identification, such as facial recognition and fingerprints.

This mistake occurred because “Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) enrollments were compared against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) data” and the NGIC has agreements with foreign partners that “prohibits the sharing of some ABIS data with U.S. agencies outside the DoD,” according to the report.

The report says that there was an agreement to allow the NGIC to access necessary records of the CBP to conduct an expanded “analytic review of all biometric watchlist matches to also include non‑watchlist matches of Afghan evacuees.” The agreement expired December 27, 2021, prior to completing a “full review of Afghan evacuees.”

On Dec. 10, the agreement was extended until June 27, 2022.

More than 74,000 Afghans have been settled across 46 states since mid August 2021, despite Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas saying that not all Afghans have been interviewed in person before being released into the interior of the U.S., according to Breitbart.

“This report further confirms that despite the President’s public comments last summer on his failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, his administration had no plan or idea what they were doing,” Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News. “Not only did his fatal errors cause security vulnerabilities that claimed the lives of 13 of our troops, but now we find out the vetting process for Afghan evacuees was weak and insufficient.” 

McCarthy added: “There are currently dozens of evacuees with ‘potentially significant security concerns’ that are scattered throughout the United States because this administration failed to use all of the background information available.”

“This carries grave risks for American citizens – the President’s security team must provide detailed information on how they plan to track down these individuals,” McCarthy said. 

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