No Good Answers About the Allegedly ‘Exhaustive’ Syrian Refugee Vetting Process

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The Administration constantly assures us there will be an exhaustive security screening process for Syrian refugees.

President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats have taken to openly mocking anyone with the slightest doubt that every last one of these refugees will be carefully examined by the same genius government that brought you HealthCareDotGov, the OPM hack, the V.A. disaster, and a seemingly endless string of Secret Service scandals, overseen by the President who thought al-Qaeda was dead and ISIS was its “junior varsity team.”

Rest assured, these refugees will be examined as thoroughly as the psychopath who was allowed to get on stage with Obama in South Africa and pretend to be interpreting the President’s remarks for the hearing-impaired. They’ll be managed as carefully as the thousands of illegal alien criminals Obama turned loose on the streets during Shutdown Theater.

The Obama Administration, to put it mildly, does not have a record of competence on any issue that would inspire blind faith in their ability to handle tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region with few reliable records. More specifically, Obama has a demonstrated track record of putting political considerations, and his own ego, above all other considerations. He will never admit to any mistakes made during his Syrian migration plan, he’ll use every resource at his disposal to conceal anything that goes wrong, and he’ll make sure no one responsible for errors or abuses is punished.

What else do we have to go on, except the assurances of Obama and his political appointees? The security professionals in this Administration aren’t exactly brimming with confidence about Syrian refugee security. The director of the National Counterterrorism Center admitted that terrorist groups are very interested in using refugee programs to slip operatives into Europe and the United States.

The director of Homeland Security had no answer when asked if the “vetting” process amounted to anything more than asking refugees to fill out an application, asking them a few questions in a verbal interview, and assuming they answer honestly. The best Director Jeh Johnson could offer were vague assurances that the “tight-knit, supportive communities” they settle into would “embrace” these refugees.

FBI Director James Comey famously admitted last month that the U.S. government has no real way to conduct background checks on refugees. “We can only query against that which we have collected. And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” Comey explained, quite sensibly.

He contrasted this lack of solid information with the screening of Iraqi refugees after the war: “With respect with Iraqi databases, we had far more because of our country’s work there for a decade. This is a different situation.”

It should be noted, however, that even the vastly superior security situation for Iraqi refugees was not sufficient to prevent some hair-raising mistakes. In 2013, for example, ABC News reported on several dozen suspected terrorist bomb-makers admitted to the United States as refugees, including a pair of Iraqi al-Qaeda insurgents living in Kentucky who admitted attacking American soldiers in Iraq.

What was the Obama Administration’s response to the discovery of those bombers living in Kentucky? The State Department stopped processing Iraqi refugees for six months… the very same measure Obama now insults skeptics for recommending with respect to the Syrians. One Iraqi who assisted American troops during the war was assassinated while awaiting delayed approval of his refugee application.

Imagine how much pressure from Team Obama the FBI Director was bucking to make these frank admissions, so completely 180-degrees different from the Party line. The Washington Times reported on Tuesday that tensions are increasing between honest FBI officials and Obama Administration political operatives.

“The administration has a calming public storyline that we have this all under control and life can go on as normal. But we’re one crack in the sidewalk away from a tragedy, and that crack could be an encrypted message we can’t follow, a lead we couldn’t resource or a refugee who slips in like we saw in Paris,” said one anonymous FBI official.

Another official thought reduced activity among ISIS recruits in the United States after a series of high-profile FBI busts was a bad omen, because while it took a little pressure off the Bureau in the short run, “there are some in the intelligence community who fear it may be a sign that the sleeper cells are already here or that the arrests and publicity this summer tipped off ISIL to change its tactics and communication patterns.”

Even Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted there were “challenges” to vetting the refugees… without saying what those challenges were.  Like almost everyone else in the Administration, she offered vague assurances that the American government has a “significant and robust screening process in place,” supposedly much better than anything Europe has been able to set up… but she could offer not a single concrete detail of what that superb screening process entails.

This was Lynch’s response to FBI Director Comey’s point about the poor quality of personal data in Syria: “Certainly with respect to the databases that the director was referring to, as he noted I believe before this committee, there is a screening process that has data from several different agencies FBI, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center. Much information is vetted and quarried. Certainly, a lot of the information that is vetted does have to be inputted into the system.”

Saying the word “certainly” over and over again is not a magic spell that conjures certainty out of confusion. Does Lynch seriously believe the big problem with information from Syria is that nobody has typed it into an American computer system yet?

While President Obama was busy insulting reluctant state governors as cowards who tremble in the shadow of three-year-old orphans, his White House team was holding a conference call to reassure them about the refugee program… and it was nothing but more vague assurances about the high quality of screening, without a single bit of solid information about how that screening would be accomplished.

“Arizona is entitled to a formal consultation under federal law, and this conference call did not meet that requirement,” said a spokesman for Governor Doug Ducey after the call.

“There was a real sense of frustration from all the governors that there is just a complete lack of transparency and communication coming from the federal government,” said a Republican state official who was on the call, according to a Bloomberg View report.

In fact, a good deal of the call consisted of White House officials telling the governors what they won’t be told. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida asked if states could opt out of the refugee process; the White House said no. Gov. Jerry Brown of California asked if the federal government would give state law enforcement officials information to help keep track of the refugees; the White House said no.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough “reiterated his confidence in the current process,” and “emphasized that the administration had no plans to increase information sharing on refugees with states as of now,” according to Bloomberg View. At this point, state officials can count themselves lucky if the Administration deigns to tell them Syrian refugees are being resettled in their jurisdictions.

The screening question should not be difficult to address.

It’s quite simple: precisely what measures will be taken to verify that the information provided by refugees is accurate? What will happen to a refugee whose application information cannot be verified with a very high level of confidence? Will the U.S. process piggyback off the very same European system Attorney General Lynch described as leaving them “vulnerable,” or is the American vetting process being constructed from the ground up?  How will the refugees be monitored after their arrival in the United States? What happens if they go to ground in “sanctuary cities” that refuse to comply with federal immigration procedures?

Based on what little we know, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the Administration is playing a numbers game.  They don’t have a vetting process – they have a gambling system. They’re betting a high number of women and children in the mix will reduce the odds of ISIS militants or easily-recruited Angry Young Men slipping through. They’re hoping our domestic counter-terrorist measures will spot refugees who get involved with terrorist plots… even though experts are saying the terrorists have found encrypted forums that will defeat the methods employed in the last round of big-ticket terrorism busts.

Also, remember that Democrats subscribe to an ideology that says terrorism is a result of Western and Israeli oppression, a malignant consequence of poverty and unemployment.  Obama Administration officials have proposed jobs programs as the way to fight ISIS. They probably think Syrian refugees who might be inclined to cooperate with terrorists groups will change their minds once they get a taste of American life… a naive faith that persists despite generations of evidence to the contrary from Islamists who have lived in Western societies, sometimes for their entire lives.

“Maybe they become Americanized, maybe the anger goes away. Maybe what they snuck in to do they’re not going to do, because we do have an acceptance of these people,” liberal columnist Margaret Carlson said of potential terrorist infiltrators on MSNBC Wednesday morning. That sounds like a more accurate description of the Obama Administration’s “vetting” procedure than anything its officials have offered on the record.


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