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72 U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees on terrorist watchlist

Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) points up an appalling weakness in the Homeland Security Department that won’t be fixed by the firing of these 72 employees and the resignation of the director (which director he is referring to is unclear; the DHS Secretary certainly didn’t resign).

The entire culture of the Department, and the Washington establishment, needs to be changed, such that there is not a remote possibility of people who are on a terrorist watchlist getting hired at DHS. But no adequate screening procedures are in place, because they would be “Islamophobic.”

Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., addresses an audience during a campaign rally in Boston’s South Boston neighborhood, Monday, April 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“Congressman Lynch: 72 Department of Homeland Security Employees On Terrorist Watchlist,” by Tori Bedford, WGBH, December 1, 2015:

Earlier this month, 47 democrats in the house of representatives defied a house veto threat by backing a GOP bill to ramp up screening requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Congressman Stephen Lynch was among them. He joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to discuss the reasoning behind his vote and other congressional matters.

Questions are paraphrased, and responses are edited where noted […].

MARGERY: Let’s start with the vote on the Syrian refugees. Why were you with those 47 other democrats?

It’s a very simple bill, I know that it’s got subsumed within a larger discussion about immigration policy, but basically, the bill we voted on was a very short bill—four pages in length, basically, and it said that the director of national security shall review the vetting process as being conducted by both the FBI and the department of homeland security. Because of the disastrous results we’ve had so far with the screening process, especially the department of homeland security, I think it was a very good idea to have another set of eyeballs looking at that process.

Back in August, we did an investigation—the inspector General did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security. The director had to resign because of that. Then we went further and did and eight-airport investigation. We had staffers go into eight different airports to test the department of homeland security screening process at major airports. They had a 95 percent failure rate. We had folks—this was a testing exercise, so we had folks going in there with guns on their ankles, and other weapons on their persons, and there was a 95 percent failure rate.

I have very low confidence based on empirical data that we’ve got on the Department of Homeland Security. I think we desperately need another set of eyeballs looking at the vetting process. That’s vetting that’s being done at major airports where we have a stationary person coming through a facility, and we’re failing 95 percent of the time. I have even lower confidence that they can conduct the vetting process in places like Jordan, or Belize or on the Syrian border, or in Cairo, or Beirut in any better fashion, especially given the huge volume of applicants we’ve had seeking refugee status.

JIM: Even if you’re right that the system needs strengthening, the most likely way that a terrorist would come into this country is not through an 18-24 month-long process, but through this Visa program that allows 20 million people from 38 countries to come here every single year with absolutely no prior approval at all.

We had Democratic and Republican proposals on this bill, and there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two of them. It became a sort of a proxy battle over immigration. You had a bunch of Republican governors who were using it politically, and saying, “we’re going to stop refugees from coming into our state, which is baloney because they have no ability—zero ability—under the constitution to actually prevent refugees from coming into their state. You also had other people on the far left saying that this would stop every person from coming into the United States. In both cases, if they only took the time to read the bill, they would see that it did not do either. The democratic proposal also requires a multi-layered vetting process of refugees.

The reason the refugee issue came up and not the Visa waiver program is because in the Paris example, you had somebody go into the stream of legitimate refugees and then perpetrate acts of violence upon the civilians in Paris. That’s why that example came to the forefront.

I agree with you—I think the Visa waiver program, where you’ve got 20 million people coming in, versus the [refugees] coming in, 10,000? perhaps? At the end of the day, obviously the Visa waiver program is the one that we should be looking at….

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57 Paris airport workers on terror watch list

What could possibly go wrong? It would be “Islamophobic” to deny these jihadis employment, you greasy Islamophobe.

easyJet

An update on this story. “Dozens of Paris airport workers on terror watch list: report,” by Yaron Steinbuch, New York Post, November 29, 2015:

The security passes of 86,000 workers at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris will be reviewed after it was found that 57 employees with access to airliners were on a terror watch list, according to a report.

Security badges were taken away from dozens of workers at the airport after terror attacks in Paris in January — but others continued working, the Sunday Times of London reported.

Police official Philippe Riffault told the paper that the review of airport passes will begin with 5,000 security personnel.

“It’s a question of verifying what these people might have been doing since they obtained their authorization,” Riffault said.

Police carried out extensive searches of the airport under state-of-emergency powers after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured by Islamic State militants.

Belgium, where several of the Paris attackers had lived, also has pulled security badges from several airport workers after discovering that some had links to jihadis who had traveled to Syria.

Meanwhile, anxiety has been brewing about radicalism among bus, Metro and railroad workers.

Samy Amimour, who blew himself up in the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, managed to get a job as a bus driver while on a watch list.
In other developments:

It emerged that Arabic graffiti was spray-painted on four planes belonging to the British carrier EasyJet and a plane from the Spanish airline Vueling at two French airports. Three defaced planes were found in Lyon and two at Charles de Gaulle, AFP reported.

“Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” was scrawled on a fuel-tank hatch of one EasyJet plane in Paris. EasyJet said there had been a “small number” of such cases since the Nov. 13 attacks….

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