Officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have faced a congressional subpoena for their refusal to provide documentation regarding the Biden administration’s vetting procedures during the tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green expressed his frustration, stating that the committee had made multiple efforts to obtain the requested documents in a cooperative manner. Despite these attempts, the DHS has been unresponsive. The limited data provided by the department in their October 20, 2023 production was found to be inadequate and, in some cases, illegible, with numerous pages containing redactions or indecipherable content.
Green emphasized that the produced documents did not meet the committee’s requests. A report from the Department of Defense Inspector General in February 2022 revealed that thousands of Afghans were brought to the United States without proper vetting, further underscoring the need for transparency in the vetting process.
The report highlighted the failure of the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) to thoroughly vet Afghan evacuees using all available Department of Defense (DoD) data before their arrival in the United States. The report pointed to limitations in data sharing between Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the DoD, as well as the existence of Afghans with derogatory information in the DoD’s Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) database who were believed to be in the United States.
The White House’s assertion that the Afghanistan withdrawal was a “success” and that proper vetting procedures were in place has been met with skepticism and concern from congressional leaders. The subpoena underscores the need for transparency and accountability regarding the vetting process during the withdrawal and the potential consequences of inadequate procedures. Conservatives are keen to ensure that national security remains a top priority and that the vetting process for individuals entering the United States is thorough and comprehensive.