Posted by Curt on 15 December, 2015 at 2:00 pm. 9 comments already!


Andrew C. McCarthy:

San Bernardino mass-murderer Tashfeen Malik wrote social-media posts that endorsed jihad and expressed disdain for America. Yet, that did not cause U.S. immigration agents to question her admission into our country, much less deny it. In fact, our government consciously avoided learning about Malik’s Islamist rants.

Commentators stunned by this dereliction are attributing it to “secret” guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security. In truth, there is nothing secret about it. The instruction to refrain from scrutinizing social-media commentary, a precious source of intelligence, is a straightforward application of what passes for the official Obama administration “anti”-terrorism strategy, known as “Countering Violent Extremism.”

Malik, a native Pakistani, who immigrated to the United States in July after living for a time in Saudi Arabia, joined her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in slaying 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., earlier this month. The jihad’s Bonnie and Clyde were finally killed in a gun battle with police.

Government officials now concede that Malik was inadequately screened before being permitted to relocate to the United States on a K-1 visa, issued because she was the fiancée of Farook, an American citizen. The couple married soon after her immigration.

Malik’s visa approval was already the stuff of scandal even before the latest revelations — especially in light of President Obama’s plan to admit thousands of immigrants from Syria and other bastions of Islamic supremacism, which inevitably breeds violent jihadism. Right after the massacre, it emerged that Malik had provided government screeners with a fake Pakistani address. She may also have been educated in a notoriously anti-Western madrassa. Neither fact was discovered during the vetting process.

But as we now learn, that’s not the half of it.

It turns out Malik was an active user of social media. Government investigators made this discovery only after the San Bernardino massacre. Malik’s actual posts were not published in the initial media reports (leaving us to wonder just how inflammatory they must be). But sources close to the investigation acknowledge that she championed jihad and condemned the United States.

It is not enough to say that these signs of the Islamist mindset were missed by security and intelligence agencies. Our government chose to miss them.

As a matter of policy, the Department of Homeland Security — the bureaucratic behemoth created after 9/11 to enhance protection of our country — avoids looking at, much less scrutinizing, the publicly available social-media commentary of aliens who seek visas to enter the United States, including from Islamic countries that are jihadist strongholds.

You read that correctly.

Now that the story of shocking recklessness is out, the administration is scrambling for cover. The policy, officials stammer, was not really written down and was, in any event more like a loose guideline than a real rule.

That is simply false. The guidance was mandatory, and it even ignited a furious intramural clash at DHS. In the end, Secretary Jeh Johnson personally refused to countermand the guidance, siding with DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (the radicalism of which is on a par with the Justice Department’s infamous Civil Rights Division) over Homeland Security agents who were worried about, you know, security.

Press reports suggest that the guidance was “secret”: adopted out of concerns about antagonizing civil-rights activists in the wake of the hysteria over surveillance provoked by Edward Snowden. Alternatively, the Obama administration floats the suggestion that scrutinizing the social-media commentary of visa applicants would be (a) too difficult because people like Malik use pseudonyms and privacy protocols, and (b) too time-consuming because there are millions of applications.

Each of these rationalizations is bogus. The surveillance controversy, to the extent it was not entirely overblown, sprang from concerns over spying on Americans. Visa applicants, by contrast, are aliens. They have no right to enter the U.S. and no civil rights under the U.S. Constitution. In addition, even if we pretend they have privacy rights, we are talking in this case about speech that aliens voluntarily share with others, not personal property in which they might be said to have an expectation of privacy.

Moreover, if social-media commentary is sometimes difficult to uncover, that is mainly because government examiners purposely refrain from asking about it. If visa applicants were routinely questioned about aliases and social-media practices, much would be revealed. The fact that some aliens might lie to examiners is no excuse not to ask questions. Many would tell the truth. As for those who would not, it must be remembered that entering the U.S. is a privilege, not a right. The burden is on the alien to demonstrate fitness, not on the government to prove dishonesty. Examiners are good at detecting duplicity, and the visa should be denied if they suspect it.

Finally, the claim about there being far too many visas to allow for competent background checks is frivolous. The number of visas issued is supposed to be a function of our national interest and the resources available to process applications. Plainly, if investigative resources are sparse, the government should issue fewer visas, not skimp on background checks.

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