Homeland Security chair says terrorists have targeted refugee program for infiltration

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has released portions of a classified letter that warns about terrorists using refugee programs to infiltrate operatives into host countries.

And the Obama administration has known of this even as it tries to shame Americans for being "afraid" of Syrian refugees.

The Hill:

Intelligence officials have determined that Islamic extremists have explored using the refugee program to enter the United States, they told the head of the Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) revealed portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Monday, which offered new claims not previously disclosed by the Obama administration.

The disclosure could give ammunition to critics of the White House’s refugee plans who have warned that the program is vulnerable to infiltration by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The NCTC has identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program,” the intelligence agency told McCaul in a letter.

“The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West,” the agency added, noting that a small number of Iraqi refugees were arrested on terror charges in 2010.

McCaul disclosed the NCTC’s analysis during a speech at the National Defense University. He initially claimed that ISIS, in particular, had considered taking advantage of the refugee program, though his office later called that a “misstatement.”

“That was very courageous for them to come forward with this, to tell me about this personally, given the political debate on the Hill,” McCaul said on Monday. 

The White House would not confirm or deny McCaul’s claim, which he was initially reluctant to link to the NCTC.

Press secretary Josh Earnest defended the U.S. refugee screening process, which typically takes two years for an individual to complete.

“Those individuals who seek to enter the United States through the refugee resettlement program do so only after undergoing the most intensive screening of anybody who attempts to enter the United States," Earnest reporters on Monday. 

A spokesman with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment on the record about the assertion.

It's not that this is particularly surprising.  Terrorists would be stupid not to exploit this vulnerability.  What's surprising is that people who know a helluva lot more about terrorism and terrorists than you, I, or President Obama are worried, and the Obama administration is either downplaying its analysis or ignoring it altogether.

The Syrian refugees will not have to wait two years to come to America.  They are already here and will continue to arrive in increasing numbers unless we drastically slow down this process so they can be vetted to the best of our ability.

The "fiancé visa" that the female terrorist came to America on is only one point of vulnerability.  Student visas, work visas – the entire immigration system is wide open to terrorist exploitation.  What's it going to take to get the administration to change this business as usual approach to our security?

If 14 dead Americans in San Bernardino doesn't move them to change, it's hard to imagine what will.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has released portions of a classified letter that warns about terrorists using refugee programs to infiltrate operatives into host countries.

And the Obama administration has known of this even as it tries to shame Americans for being "afraid" of Syrian refugees.

The Hill:

Intelligence officials have determined that Islamic extremists have explored using the refugee program to enter the United States, they told the head of the Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) revealed portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Monday, which offered new claims not previously disclosed by the Obama administration.

The disclosure could give ammunition to critics of the White House’s refugee plans who have warned that the program is vulnerable to infiltration by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The NCTC has identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program,” the intelligence agency told McCaul in a letter.

“The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West,” the agency added, noting that a small number of Iraqi refugees were arrested on terror charges in 2010.

McCaul disclosed the NCTC’s analysis during a speech at the National Defense University. He initially claimed that ISIS, in particular, had considered taking advantage of the refugee program, though his office later called that a “misstatement.”

“That was very courageous for them to come forward with this, to tell me about this personally, given the political debate on the Hill,” McCaul said on Monday. 

The White House would not confirm or deny McCaul’s claim, which he was initially reluctant to link to the NCTC.

Press secretary Josh Earnest defended the U.S. refugee screening process, which typically takes two years for an individual to complete.

“Those individuals who seek to enter the United States through the refugee resettlement program do so only after undergoing the most intensive screening of anybody who attempts to enter the United States," Earnest reporters on Monday. 

A spokesman with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment on the record about the assertion.

It's not that this is particularly surprising.  Terrorists would be stupid not to exploit this vulnerability.  What's surprising is that people who know a helluva lot more about terrorism and terrorists than you, I, or President Obama are worried, and the Obama administration is either downplaying its analysis or ignoring it altogether.

The Syrian refugees will not have to wait two years to come to America.  They are already here and will continue to arrive in increasing numbers unless we drastically slow down this process so they can be vetted to the best of our ability.

The "fiancé visa" that the female terrorist came to America on is only one point of vulnerability.  Student visas, work visas – the entire immigration system is wide open to terrorist exploitation.  What's it going to take to get the administration to change this business as usual approach to our security?

If 14 dead Americans in San Bernardino doesn't move them to change, it's hard to imagine what will.