Fears of foreign infiltration have spread across Capitol Hill as Pentagon investigators believe a Defense Department program may have been “compromised.”
Investigators have reportedly discovered “potential security risks” in a Pentagon program that offers expedited citizenship to foreign-born individuals who serve in the US military, Fox News’ James Rosen reported Tuesday.
Since 2009, the government’s immigrant recruitment program has enrolled more than 10,000 individuals seeking US citizenship into the armed forces. But a classified investigative report issued by the Pentagon’s inspector general is now raising the alarm of “foreign infiltration” as many enrollees are unaccounted for.
Defense Department officials acknowledged that the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program is still active but no new applications are being processed. The program came together at the end of the Bush-Cheney administration and was launched under former President Obama,
“The lack of discipline in implementation of this program has created problems elsewhere,” noted Rep. Steve Russell, who first publicly raised the alarm when the House Armed Services Committee met to mark up the latest National Defense Authorization Act last month.
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“The program has been replete with problems, to include foreign infiltration – so much so that the Department of Defense is seeking to suspend the program due to those concerns,” the Oklahoma Republican and retired Army officer said.
DOD officials have not given another lawmaker, who said the program had been “compromised,” answers to his questions about missing enrollees, like “Where are they? What do they know? Where are they serving? What are their numbers?”
Other than a short statement, a Pentagon spokesman contacted by Fox News declined further comment, citing “pending litigation.”
“The Department of Defense is conducting a review of the MAVNI pilot program due to potential security risks associated with the program,” Army Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick said.
According to Rosen’s Fox News report:
The title of the inspector general’s classified report – “Evaluation of Military Services’ Compliance with Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program Security Reviews and Monitoring Programs” – hints at the problems, with its references to “security reviews” and “monitoring” of enrolled individuals.
Some lawmakers have received classified briefings on the matter. Sources said some of the countries of origin for MAVNI enrollees are “of concern,” but as of yet there is no evidence in the public domain that ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist groups have penetrated the MAVNI program. Still, such a development remains an active concern.
“ISIS has always had desire to use migration as way to penetrate into countries. They have done that successfully in Europe because of open borders, mass immigration with no vetting. In the U.S., we haven’t had any record of their penetration,” Jack Keane, retired U.S. Army General and Fox News military analyst, said.
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“And certainly if this program is compromised and there’s a possibility of that kind of penetration, it’s got to be thoroughly investigated,” he added.
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