Homeland Security employee reveals big gaps in vetting process

A DHS employee, writing in The Washington Post, the official newspaper of the opposition, attempted to reassure the public that vetting of refugees from dangerous countries was very, very thorough.  But in the process, she did exactly the opposite.

I have had countless refugees break down crying in my interview room because of the length and severity of the vetting process.

They broke down crying?  Were they waterboarded?

The process starts with the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR conducts a series of interviews and screenings, including home country reference checks and a biological screening such as iris scans.

What are these iris scans compared to?  You can even sample their DNA, but if you don't have anything to compare it to, it's meaningless.

Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians, who are all now barred from entering the United States, are far and away the most well-documented refugees we interview.

How can they be the most documented when many don't have documents at all?  How can they be most documented when, in the case of Syrians and some Iraqis, they come from places where there is no government at all, or a hostile government who would love to infiltrate spies into the U.S. (Iran)?

I typically had to review a stack of high school degrees, baptismal certificates, marriage and birth certificates, honors and awards, photos with U.S. service personnel, recommendations from American military members, and conscription booklets or cards, which every man in those countries had to carry. 

Except for recommendations from the U.S. military, these are all meaningless.  What does a birth certificate tell you about whether someone is a terrorist or not?  What does a high school degree tell you?  Are all ISIS members high school dropouts?  How does serving in the Army for a period of time tell you whether that person committed atrocities in the military or joined a radical rebel group afterward?

Since the United States has been in Iraq for more than 10 years, the government has a plethora of information on Iraqis — in many cases, terrorists, criminals and persecutors are recognizable and denied. 

No, it doesn't.  We know the identities of some terrorists, but there are thousands more fighting for ISIS whose names we don't even know.

Some refugees were so fearful of forgetting some detail of their lives that they brought notes to the interview to remember everything exactly.

Sound suspicious to you?

In one instance, while reviewing a case, I came across a report of a refugee who had handed someone a piece of fruit at a checkpoint. The incident was thoroughly investigated to see if the person had provided material support to a potential terrorist organization.

So we are to believe if reports of fruit-giving are checked out this thoroughly, no terrorists can slip through.  Is anyone other than me understanding this?

The refugee applicants' information and fingerprints (also taken by Homeland Security officers) are run through the databases of nine law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies and matched against criminal databases[.]

That's great.  Let me know when we get an equally detailed database to match it to from the Syrian, Somali, and Iranian government.  Maybe we can match it against characters from the Star Wars universe and see if there's a match there, too.

Behind the scenes, officers and supervisors of varying political stripes debate and discuss each case endlessly.

If it were truly endless, that would be great.

At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters, officers conduct more research, reconciling multiple interview notes, country conditions and background checks. They are trained to spot "red flags" or issues that might make someone inadmissible.

How can they possibly know?  Normally, if someone wants to come from a friendly country – say, Canada – all we would have to do is ask the Canadians about him.  But there is no one to ask in places like Syria and Somalia, and I wouldn't necessarily trust the answers we get from places like Iran and even Iraq.

The article has several compulsory sob stories, to put a human face on the effort to expose our country to potential terrorists.  Here is one of them:

I conducted one of my last interviews as an immigration officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Istanbul with Mahmoud and his 8-year-old son from Aleppo, Syria. His son had lost his legs in the explosion that killed Mahmoud's wife, sister and other children.  I had never been both so sad and proud that this boy would be able to come to the United States and start school and a new life [but the evil Trump stopped them from coming]....

So the American taxpayer is expected to provide expensive medical care to Mahmoud's child, for the rest of his life, as well as disability payments, also for the rest of the child's life?  Where is the justice to taxpayers for that?

The fact is that the only thing extreme about this vetting is the rhetoric around it.  In practice, because of the chaotic or hostile nature of the countries these "refugees" are coming from, it is usually impossible to distinguish political refugees from economic refugees from terrorists, or even just people who would want to impose their brand of sharia law on others.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

A DHS employee, writing in The Washington Post, the official newspaper of the opposition, attempted to reassure the public that vetting of refugees from dangerous countries was very, very thorough.  But in the process, she did exactly the opposite.

I have had countless refugees break down crying in my interview room because of the length and severity of the vetting process.

They broke down crying?  Were they waterboarded?

The process starts with the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR conducts a series of interviews and screenings, including home country reference checks and a biological screening such as iris scans.

What are these iris scans compared to?  You can even sample their DNA, but if you don't have anything to compare it to, it's meaningless.

Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians, who are all now barred from entering the United States, are far and away the most well-documented refugees we interview.

How can they be the most documented when many don't have documents at all?  How can they be most documented when, in the case of Syrians and some Iraqis, they come from places where there is no government at all, or a hostile government who would love to infiltrate spies into the U.S. (Iran)?

I typically had to review a stack of high school degrees, baptismal certificates, marriage and birth certificates, honors and awards, photos with U.S. service personnel, recommendations from American military members, and conscription booklets or cards, which every man in those countries had to carry. 

Except for recommendations from the U.S. military, these are all meaningless.  What does a birth certificate tell you about whether someone is a terrorist or not?  What does a high school degree tell you?  Are all ISIS members high school dropouts?  How does serving in the Army for a period of time tell you whether that person committed atrocities in the military or joined a radical rebel group afterward?

Since the United States has been in Iraq for more than 10 years, the government has a plethora of information on Iraqis — in many cases, terrorists, criminals and persecutors are recognizable and denied. 

No, it doesn't.  We know the identities of some terrorists, but there are thousands more fighting for ISIS whose names we don't even know.

Some refugees were so fearful of forgetting some detail of their lives that they brought notes to the interview to remember everything exactly.

Sound suspicious to you?

In one instance, while reviewing a case, I came across a report of a refugee who had handed someone a piece of fruit at a checkpoint. The incident was thoroughly investigated to see if the person had provided material support to a potential terrorist organization.

So we are to believe if reports of fruit-giving are checked out this thoroughly, no terrorists can slip through.  Is anyone other than me understanding this?

The refugee applicants' information and fingerprints (also taken by Homeland Security officers) are run through the databases of nine law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies and matched against criminal databases[.]

That's great.  Let me know when we get an equally detailed database to match it to from the Syrian, Somali, and Iranian government.  Maybe we can match it against characters from the Star Wars universe and see if there's a match there, too.

Behind the scenes, officers and supervisors of varying political stripes debate and discuss each case endlessly.

If it were truly endless, that would be great.

At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters, officers conduct more research, reconciling multiple interview notes, country conditions and background checks. They are trained to spot "red flags" or issues that might make someone inadmissible.

How can they possibly know?  Normally, if someone wants to come from a friendly country – say, Canada – all we would have to do is ask the Canadians about him.  But there is no one to ask in places like Syria and Somalia, and I wouldn't necessarily trust the answers we get from places like Iran and even Iraq.

The article has several compulsory sob stories, to put a human face on the effort to expose our country to potential terrorists.  Here is one of them:

I conducted one of my last interviews as an immigration officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Istanbul with Mahmoud and his 8-year-old son from Aleppo, Syria. His son had lost his legs in the explosion that killed Mahmoud's wife, sister and other children.  I had never been both so sad and proud that this boy would be able to come to the United States and start school and a new life [but the evil Trump stopped them from coming]....

So the American taxpayer is expected to provide expensive medical care to Mahmoud's child, for the rest of his life, as well as disability payments, also for the rest of the child's life?  Where is the justice to taxpayers for that?

The fact is that the only thing extreme about this vetting is the rhetoric around it.  In practice, because of the chaotic or hostile nature of the countries these "refugees" are coming from, it is usually impossible to distinguish political refugees from economic refugees from terrorists, or even just people who would want to impose their brand of sharia law on others.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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