Two Republican senators are demanding an immediate investigation into whistleblower allegations that the Biden administration failed to properly vet hundreds of Afghan evacuees.
Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., sent a letter to Department of Defense acting Inspector General Sean O'Donnell on Thursday after a whistleblower alleged that the administration evacuated 324 individuals who appeared on the department’s watchlist, which includes suspected terrorists; cut corners; and did not conduct full fingerprint tests of Afghan evacuees.
The whistleblower also alleged that Department of Homeland Security staff had been authorized to delete old biometric data whenever they personally believed such information was out of date, a move the senators say could compromise the integrity of existing databases and undermine national security.
"We write to you with concern over new allegations raised by a Department of Defense whistleblower," the senators said in their letter. "This information may show the Biden Administration’s failure to vet those evacuated from Afghanistan was even worse than the public was led to believe. The following allegations demand an immediate investigation by your office."
The senators cited a February DOD report that said department "personnel had identified 50 Afghan personnel in the United States with information in DOD records that would indicate potentially significant security concerns."
Those evacuees were brought out of Afghanistan to overseas staging points and then into the U.S. without ever being vetted through DOD’s Automated Biometric Identification System.
Saying they understood that number had risen to 65 Afghan personnel who appeared in the ID system, the senators added that the "individuals need to be immediately located, fully vetted, and, if appropriate, deported."
A different Pentagon database, the Biometrically Enabled Watchlist, flagged 324 Afghan evacuees who reached the U.S. as potential security risks.
DHS officials said they ran identities of Afghans through a series of databases, including the watchlist database, from multiple agencies before allowing them into the U.S., The Washington Times reported. Individuals with red flags were supposed to face follow-up checks, such as in-person interviews.
"The federal government is leveraging every tool available to ensure that no individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security are permitted to enter the United States," the department said in a statement.
The senators also said they were told that political appointees ordered military officers to "cut corners" on fingerprint checks for the evacuees to rush them into the U.S.
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