A few weeks ago Secretary of State John Kerry revealed plans to increase the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. to 110,000 in 2017, representing a 30% increase over the 2016 target and a 57% increase from 2015, while adding “that if it is possible to do more” in terms of accepting refugees “we would.” Hillary Clinton has supported the Obama administration’s stance on admitting refugees and has said that the “United States has to do more.” In an appearance on Face The Nation, Clinton even proposed raising the Syrian refugee target to 65,000 from 10,000 after putting into the place the “mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in.”
“We’re facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II and I think the United States has to do more. I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in. I want the United States to lead the world.”
The problem, of course, is that even FBI Director Comey has admitted to the Department of Homeland Security that it’s impossible to “thoroughly vet” incoming refugees.
“We can only query against that which we have collected. And so if someone has not made a ripple in the pond in Syria on a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our databases, we can query our databases until the cows come home but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person.”
Now, Reuters reveals that the Obama administration can’t even properly “vet” Afghan troops that have been brought to the U.S. for military training. Since January 2015, 44 Afghan soldiers brought to the U.S. for military training have gone missing which a U.S. defense official described as concerning and “out of the ordinary.”
While other foreign troops on U.S. military training visits have sometimes run away, a U.S. defense official said that the frequency of Afghan troops going missing was concerning and “out of the ordinary.”
Since September alone, eight Afghan troops have left military bases without authorization, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told Reuters. He said the total number of Afghan troops who have gone missing since January 2015 is 44, a number that has not previously been disclosed.
“The Defense Department is assessing ways to strengthen eligibility criteria for training in ways that will reduce the likelihood of an individual Afghan willingly absconding from training in the U.S. and going AWOL (absent without leave),” Stump said.
Afghans in the U.S. training program are vetted to ensure they have not participated in human rights abuses and are not affiliated with militant groups before being allowed into the United States, Stump said.
These defections are an embarrassment for Obama’s administration, which has spent billions of dollars training Afghan troops as it seeks to further reduce American troop presence in the region. Making the situation even worse is that the Afghan army has occasionally been infiltrated by Taliban militants who have carried out attacks on Afghan and U.S. troops over the years.
In some cases, officials said, the Afghan students who went missing were in the United States for elite Army Ranger School and intelligence-gathering training. The officials did not identify the missing troops or their rank.
In one case the Pentagon confirmed that an Afghan student had been detained by Canadian police while attempting to enter Canada from the United States.
Experts said low morale and insufficient training to fight the Taliban could explain the troops leaving, in addition to a dearth of economic opportunities in the impoverished country.
“They face a formidable enemy, with very limited resources and many Afghan troops aren’t getting paid on time,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think-tank.
One would think that the U.S. military would be in the best position to conduct “extreme vetting” but apparently even their efforts aren’t good enough.