Hawley Grills Wray on Whistleblower Allegations that Biden Admin Cut Corners on Afghan Vetting

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On Thursday, U.S. Senator Hawley (R-Mo.) questioned Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray over new whistleblower allegations that the Biden administration failed to properly vet individuals evacuated from Afghanistan, and allowed more than 300 evacuees —  who are on a DOD watchlist that includes known suspected terrorists — to enter the United States.

Senator Hawley asked, “Here’s my question…according to this whistleblower’s allegations, there are 324 individuals who were evacuated from Afghanistan and were allowed to enter the United States despite appearing on DOD’s biometrically enabled watchlist…that identifies folks whose biometrics have been collected and determined to be threats or potential threats to national security, including known suspected terrorists.”

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He continued, “Of any of these nearly 400 individuals who apparently have been brought to this country despite having some connection to terrorism, have you interviewed any of them? Have you apprehended any of them?”

FBI Director Wray did not immediately answer Senator Hawley’s questions.

PREVIOUSLY:

Today U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a letter to Department of Defense (DoD) Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell calling for an immediate investigation into new DoD whistleblower allegations that the Biden Administration failed to properly vet individuals evacuated from Afghanistan.

The whistleblower alleges:

  • The Biden Administration evacuated 324 individuals from Afghanistan into the United States who appeared on DoD’s watchlist, which includes known suspected terrorists.
  • The White House and DoD officials directed agency personnel to cut corners and not conduct full fingerprint tests of Afghan evacuees.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff have been authorized to delete old biometric data, whenever they personally believe such information is out of date, which could compromise the integrity of existing databases and undermine national security.

Senators Hawley and Johnson wrote, “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.”

Read the full letter here or below.

Sean O’Donnell
Acting Inspector General
Department of Defense
4800 Mark Center Dr. 
Alexandria, VA 22305

Dear Acting Inspector General O’Donnell,

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.

 You previously issued a report titled “Evaluation of the Screening of Displaced Persons from Afghanistan.”Among other things, you found that “Afghan evacuees were not vetted by the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) using all DoD data prior to arriving in” the United States. In particular, we were troubled to learn that DoD “personnel identified Afghans with derogatory information in the DoD [Automated Biometric Identification System] database who were believed to be in the United States.”At the time of the report, DoD “personnel had identified 50 Afghan personnel in the United States with information in DoD records that would indicate potentially significant security concerns,” but we understand that number has risen to at least 65.  These individuals need to be immediately located, fully vetted, and, if appropriate, deported.

A patriotic whistleblower paints an even darker picture. According to new allegations, 324 individuals evacuated from Afghanistan were allowed to enter the United States, despite appearing on the DoD’s Biometrically Enabled Watchlist (BEWL). The BEWL—commonly known as “the watch list”—identifies individuals whose biometrics have been collected and determined by analysts to be threats or potential threats to national security, including known suspected terrorists (KST). This is in addition to the reportedly 65 individuals who are known to have entered the country without adequate vetting.

Furthermore, the whistleblower alleges that political appointees at the National Security Council (NSC) and DoD instructed agency personnel to cut corners when processing evacuees in Afghanistan and at staging bases in Europe, also known as “lily pads.” According to the whistleblower rather than administer fingerprint tests on all ten fingers, personnel were told to abbreviate their tests in order to promote the rushed evacuation from Afghanistan.

Finally, it 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. This is a troubling development that could threaten national security and public safety.

We write to request you open an immediate investigation into these alarming allegations and specifically respond to the following:

  1. How many BEWL matches were generated by biometric submissions from Afghan evacuees?
    1. How many of these individuals were denied entry into the United States?     
    2. How many of these individuals were admitted into the United States?
    3. How many of these individuals are currently in the United States?
  2. How many BEWL matches were generated by evacuees after their arrival into the United States?
  3. What steps have been taken to identify, vet, and, if appropriate, deport these BEWL matched individuals from the United States?
  4. How many BEWL matches were for individuals designated as known suspected terrorists?
  5. Have those who remain on the BEWL been investigated by the FBI or other law enforcement entities?
  6. Did political appointees at NSC or DoD instruct personnel to administer abbreviated fingerprint tests to Afghan evacuees? If so, were all Afghan evacuees ultimately administered 10-finger tests?
  7. Under what conditions may agency personnel delete biometric information? Has any biometric information associated with Afghan evacuees been deleted?

Sincerely, 

Josh Hawley
United States Senator

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