Today on Good Morning America, John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and now a national security consultant for ABC News, dropped a bombshell: over the objections of security-minded DHS personnel, the Obama administration secretly barred DHS from looking at postings on social media by visa applicants like Tashfeen Malik:
Fearing a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, a former senior department official said. …
Former DHS under-secretary Cohen said he and others pressed hard for just such a policy change in 2014 that would allow a review of publicly-posted social media messages as terror group followers increasingly used Twitter and Facebook to show their allegiance to a variety of jihadist groups.
Cohen said officials from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) both pressed for a change in policy.
“Immigration, security, law enforcement officials recognized at the time that it was important to more extensively review public social media postings because they offered potential insights into whether somebody was an extremist or potentially connected to a terrorist organization or a supporter of the movement,” said Cohen, who left DHS in June 2014.
Cohen said the issue reached a head at a heated 2014 meeting chaired by Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, other top deputies and representatives of the DHS Office of Civil Liberties and the Office of Privacy.
“The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,” Cohen said in an interview broadcast on “Good Morning America” today.
No doubt the policy will now be changed, but it is too late for the 14 people who were murdered by Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.
As is so often the case with the Obama administration, one is confronted with a policy of such towering stupidity that one wonders whether it can be accidental. If you wanted more terrorists to enter the United States, what would you do differently?