May 27, 2022

Grassley, Portman, Inhofe Demand Update from FBI on Afghan Evacuees Flagged for Security Concerns, Denounce DHS’ Continued Failure to Use All Vetting Tools

A Pentagon report previously found dozens of Afghans who posed security risks entered the U.S., many now cannot be located

WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Rob Portman (R-Ohio), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Reform and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Committee on Armed Services, requested an update from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray on the screening and vetting of Afghan evacuees. Specifically, they draw attention to evacuees who resettled in the U.S. under Operation Allies Welcome now that the FBI has been given data regarding Afghans with national security concerns.
 
As President Biden’s botched and chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal unfolded, the administration circumvented the normal refugee resettlement process. The senators raise concerns based on a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Defense (DOD), which found that, as a result of the administration’s rushed and haphazard process, evacuees had not been vetted using all of the tools and data available to the DOD.
 
“We are aware of at least 50 Afghan evacuees paroled by DHS into the United States that were later identified by DOD as having potentially significant security concerns that would not qualify for parole or admission onto U.S. military bases used as temporary housing for evacuees. The OIG explains that ‘significant security concerns’ include individuals whose latent fingerprints have been found on improvised explosive devices and known or suspected terrorists. In addition, at least 28 of these evacuees could not be located once they were flagged by DOD,” the senators wrote, citing directly from the DOD OIG’s February report.
 
Despite the DOD OIG’s findings earlier this year, Grassley, Portman and Inhofe express concern that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) still is not utilizing the DOD’s tactical database to screen Afghans for potential security concerns.
 
“DHS’s failure to use every database to screen for derogatory information has caused a serious breach of homeland security. Accordingly, we request that you provide us with information about those evacuees flagged by DOD and steps the FBI has taken to adjudicate their derogatory information, including locating individuals currently within the United States. In addition, we would like to know how the FBI is addressing the counterterrorism threat posed by Afghan parolees that have not been screened by DHS against the tactical database,” the senators concluded.
 
Last December, the senators successfully pushed the Biden administration to provide a report on their vetting process for Afghan evacuees. After the report was published, Grassley called on the administration to immediately answer congressional oversight requests, given that the vetting problems pose serious national security and public safety concerns.
 
The full letter is available HERE.
 

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