Security officials who granted San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Maklik his U.S. visa could have done a more thorough background check, an anonymous official has said.
Malik was granted a K-1 fiance visa following an interview and security checks against various databases, the Daily Mail reports. However, officials found no “derogatory information” and thus saw no reason to request a more thorough check known as a “security assessment opinion”.
The anonymous official, who is familiar with the process, said these checks are not performed routinely due to the sheer volume of applications.
Before being given her visa, Malik went through national security checks and criminal background checks. She was also interviewed in by the U.S. consulate in Pakistan and again by an immigration officer inside the United States before being given a green card.
However, it subsequently emerged that Malik had posted extremist messages on Facebook under a false name, and with tight privacy restrictions, raising questions over whether the government checks were thorough enough.
Agents said they were under pressure from the Obama administration not to look too deeply into people’s social media accounts due to privacy and civil liberties concerns.
Both Malik and Farook messaged their support for Islamic State, but they do not appear to have been in direct contact with the group, so were not discovered in government checks.
Malik’s sister also made extremist comments on Facebook, posting an insult to a photo of a plane hitting the World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Members of Congress yesterday pushed for a new law requiring reviews of social media accounts before applicants are granted visas. John McCain introduced the legislation, and 22 Democratic senators wrote to the DHS asking for the change.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said last week: “Somebody entered the United States through the K-1 visa program and proceeded to carry out an act of terrorism on American soil.
“That program is at a minimum worth a very close look.”