How the Afghan Vetting Process Works

November 8, 2021

Council on National Security and Immigration leader Rick “Ozzie” Nelson worked with Afghans assisting war efforts as a U.S. Navy officer. He then served on the National Security Council staff of president George W. Bush and was later a founding member of the National Counterterrorism Center. Nelson talks with Jill Jackson about the vetting process for Afghan refugees who assisted U.S. war efforts over the last two decades and were recently evacuated to the United States.

Washington, D.C. – National security leaders from the Council on National Security and Immigration (CNSI) today released a letter  they sent to all 50 governors detailing the processes by which allies from Afghanistan are being vetted before entering the country. 

Since August, when Afghan refugees began settling in the U.S., misinformation has spread about the processes by which they are screened and verified. Ten former national security leaders, many with close knowledge of the processes, signed the letter to “share information and expertise [to] instill confidence in our robust vetting system and assure [state leaders] that Afghan refugees brought into the U.S. are processed under rigorous security standards.”  

Click here for the letter.

On a press call earlier today, Elizabeth Neumann, founding CNSI leader and former Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said, “The United States has a commitment to ensuring the safety of its citizens which is why the rigorous processes were put into place over the past years. The processes were accelerated for the SIV population, however, they were not weakened.”

She added, “Our plea to governors is that they do what they can to support these refugees as they get settled. For a refugee who has come out of a very difficult circumstance like Afghanistan, how we resettle them matters.”

Robert Mocny, former director of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT program) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, remarked, “Understanding how the vetting system works is critical. After 9/11, when DHS was stood up, we went to great lengths to develop a vetting system to include the Department of Defense (including biometrics collected on the battlefields), the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice databases. The people involved in these systems want to ensure that the Afghan refugees are thoroughly vetted and the databases will give us the information that we need.”