Watchdog will evaluate whistleblower claims that Pentagon failed to properly vet Afghan evacuees

In a press release, Johnson highlighted the initial claims whistleblowers made against the agency.

Updated: September 8, 2022 - 4:18pm

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The Department of Defense Inspector General will evaluate whistleblower claims that the Pentagon failed to properly vet Afghan evacuees for entry into the U.S. amid the nation's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Acting Inspector General Sean W. O'Donnell confirmed he would examine the whistleblower claims in a Sept. 6 letter to Republican Sens. Ron Johnson, Wis., and Josh Hawley, Mo.

"As part of our ongoing body of work on Afghan evacuees, we are initiating an evaluation, to commence in the first quarter of FY 2023, to address your questions pertaining to the DoD’s role in reviewing DoD databases for information on Afghan evacuees when requested by other agencies," the watchdog wrote.

In a press release, Johnson highlighted the initial claims whistleblowers made against the agency. Among the most serious accusations was a claim that the Biden Administration evacuated 324 people on the DoD's watchlist of known suspected terrorists.

Moreover, they claim "[t]he White House and DoD officials directed agency personnel to cut corners and not conduct full fingerprint tests of Afghan evacuees," Johnson wrote.

Another claim stated that "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(DHS) staff have been authorized to delete old biometric data, whenever they personally believe such information is out of date, which could compromise the integrity of existing databases and undermine national security."

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General found that DHS also failed to evaluate the evacuees. Over 79,000 Afghans entered the United States between July 2021 and January 2022, per that report. It further asserted that "dozens" of individuals admitted to the country had known "derogatory information."

The DHS watchdog recommended that the agency and Customs and Border Protection identify and vet Afghan evacuees still in the United States and plan for a similar occurrence in the future. Neither agency concurred with the recommendations.

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