Sen. Josh Hawley grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray on the allegations at a Senate hearing
Two GOP senators have urged the Department of Defense (DoD) to immediately investigate whistleblower allegations that hundreds of Afghan evacuees who appeared on official watchlists were not properly vetted before they were released into the United States.
According to the DoD whistleblower, the Biden administration failed to properly vet 324 Afghan evacuees who appeared on the DoD’s Biometrically Enabled Watchlist (BEWL), which includes known suspected terrorists, said U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Thursday.
The BEWL identifies individuals whose biometrics have been collected and determined by analysts to be threats or potential threats to national security, including known suspected terrorists.
Hawley and Johnson said the whistleblower also alleges that White House and DoD officials instructed agency personnel to “cut corners” and not conduct full fingerprint tests on the evacuees at staging bases in Europe, “in order to promote the rushed evacuation from Afghanistan.”
Further, the whistleblower alleges that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff were authorized to delete old biometric data at their discretion, said the senators, who went on to say that this is a “troubling development that could threaten national security and public safety.”
Whistleblower Allegations Raised in Letter
Hawley and Johnson raised the DoD whistleblower’s allegations with DoD Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell in a letter on Thursday (pdf).
“We write to you with concern over new allegations raised by a Department of Defense (DoD) whistleblower. 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 wrote.
The DoD has previously admitted in a report that the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) did not vet all Afghan evacuees “using all DoD data prior to arriving in” the United States.
NEW whistleblower allegations – hundreds of Afghan evacuees who appeared on DOD terror watch list allowed to enter the U.S. @SenRonJohnson and I lay out what we’ve learned pic.twitter.com/zBHlVB0ujE— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) August 4, 2022
The DoD earlier this year said that it identified 50 Afghan individuals in the United States whose records indicate they might pose a significant security concern.
Hawley and Johnson said they “understand that number has risen to at least 65,” and declared that the individuals “need to be immediately located, fully vetted, and, if appropriate, deported.”
The senators noted that the 324 Afghan individuals allegedly on the watchlist are in addition to the 50 or 65 already identified.