Bombshell whistleblower allegations suggest the Biden administration’s failure to thoroughly vet refugees from Afghanistan last summer was worse than the Department of Defense admitted, according to a Thursday letter from Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The letter asked the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense about allegations that the DoD’s handling of Afghan refugees may have allowed terrorists into the country.
According to the letter, “324 individuals evacuated from Afghanistan were allowed to enter the United States, despite appearing on the DoD’s Biometrically Enabled Watchlist,” which identifies people determined to be “threats or potential threats to national security, including known suspected terrorists.”
The DoD reported in February that “50 Afghan personnel in the United States” had been identified who had “information in DoD records that would indicate potentially significant security concerns.” The report does not reference the 324 individuals the whistleblower said were on the watchlist.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Hawley asked FBI Director Christopher Wray if he was aware of these individuals. “I don’t know that I have the exact number,” Wray said. “I know that there are a number of individuals through our joint terrorism task forces that we are actively trying to investigate.”
Hawley asked if the FBI had interviewed or apprehended any of the 324 people the whistleblower referenced. Wray said, “I know there have been a number of interviews of individuals who came — lots of interviews, frankly — of individuals who came as part of the evacuation.” Wray did not specify whether any of the individuals interviewed were among those allegedly on the watchlist.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley asked Wray whether the FBI knows where these individuals are located.
“We have a lot of information about where people are located,” Wray said. “I can’t sit — I can’t sit here right now and tell you that we know where all are located at any given time, that’s probably true.”
The letter cites whistleblower claims that “DoD instructed agency personnel to cut corners when processing evacuees” and “abbreviate their [fingerprint] tests in order to promote the rushed evacuation from Afghanistan.”
According to the letter, the problems aren’t over. “[I]t is alleged that personnel at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who work on vetting Afghan evacuees have been authorized to delete old biometric data, whenever they personally believed that such information is out of date,” Hawley and Johnson wrote.
Many politicians, even Republicans such as Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, welcomed Afghan refugees with open arms. Holcomb said in his 2022 State of the State Address that Indiana “took in 7,500 evacuees” and “saw an outpouring of donations and volunteers on a scale like no other state experienced.” Holcomb called it a “tremendous, uplifting effort” and said about 500 of the refugees are now “calling Indiana their new home.” Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also took the opportunity to posture himself as progressive and tolerant, telling Chris Wallace that Afghan evacuees who had “fought on behalf of Americans” were “welcome in my neighborhood.”
Olivia Hajicek is an intern at The Federalist and a junior at Hillsdale College studying history and journalism. She has covered campus and city news as a reporter for The Hillsdale Collegian. You can reach her at [email protected]