The realization that the U.S. government has a secret policy that prohibits immigration officials from reviewing social media posts of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas comes at a time when the FBI learned that San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik had been posting extensive messages online about jihad and martyrdom.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson decided against ending the policy earlier this year, ABC News reported. A reality that leaves Americans wondering just how serious the Obama administration is about keeping the country safe from terrorism.
Johnson opted not to take action because he feared a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the White House, according to ABC News.
“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” said John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at Homeland Security.
Which prompts the question, could the terrorist attack in San Bernardino that claimed 14 lives have been avoided had it not been for the policy?
A Homeland Security spokesperson told ABC News the agency started a pilot program in the fall of 2014 that included social media in vetting, but it’s not a widespread policy.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., demanded that the U.S. immediately begin checking social media sites of those admitted on visas.
“Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik, maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive,” he said Sunday.
Cohen told “Good Morning America” that he and other U.S. officials pushed for a policy change in 2014 but Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Liberties and Office of Privacy opposed it.
“The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,” he said. “There is no excuse for not using every resource at our disposal to fully vet individuals before they come to the United States.”
It would appear that the Obama administration is more concerned about invading the privacy of foreign citizens than the ultimate invasion of privacy that happens when jihadists — like Tashfeen Malik — kill Americans on their home turf.
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