Senate Republicans say U.S. officials vetted just a small number of the 82,000 Afghan evacuees airlifted from Kabul in August despite President Joe Biden's contrary claims, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The memo, drafted by Senate Republicans in October, summarizes interviews with federal officials who oversaw what they described as a reckless screening and vetting process at home and at military bases, the Examiner reported.
Roughly 75% of those allowed in the U.S. weren't American citizens, visa holders, applicants, or green cardholders, according to the memo.
"They created a brand-new, out-of-cloth screening process just for this population," the source of the memo told the Examiner.
"And then they told everyone, 'This is what you follow.' DOD [the Defense Department] was such a heavy part of this, and they follow orders. And so, they're like, 'OK, here's the checklist. I'll do exactly what the checklist says — no more.' So, that's how it happened, but it was centrally managed via DHS [Department of Homeland Security]."
Biden in August publicly promised to vet all evacuees entering the U.S. from war-torn Afghanistan.
"Planes taking off from Kabul are not flying directly to the United States," Biden said in a statement at the time, per Fox News. "They're landing at U.S. military bases and transit centers around the world. At these sites where they are landing, we are conducting thorough scrutiny — security screenings for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident."
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claimed in a statement to the Examiner that it had performed extensive vetting on the arrivals from Afghanistan.
"As with any population entering the United States, DHS, in coordination with interagency vetting partners, takes multiple steps to ensure that those seeking entry do not pose a national security or public safety risk," DHS officials told the newspaper.
"The rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process involves biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from DHS and DOD, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and additional intelligence community partners. This process includes reviewing fingerprints, photos, and biographic data for every single Afghan before they are cleared to travel to the United States."
The memo also claimed that the administration told U.S. officials not to ask Afghans without Special Immigrant Visas if they had worked for the U.S. or were an ally during the war.
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