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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Trump team considers deeper "extreme vetting"

President Trump spoke about "extreme vetting" as a candidate and again once he took office. Now the administration wants to have visa applicants undergo even more intense security reviews and have embassies do more thorough interviews of each visa applicant. This could apply to all nations, even our allies.

The measures have not been made public, but would represent Trump's promise of "extreme vetting." It's expected to generate significant controversy from the left in particular, but that's to be expected. Everything President Trump has put forward has been vehemently challenged by the left.

The reality is, other nations might place the same or similar requirements on Americans seeking visas, but it's probably worth the inconvenience if you consider that Israel does the same thing with people entering their country, and they've had great success with the program.

"If there is any doubt about a person's intentions coming to the United States, they should have to overcome--really and truly prove to our satisfaction--that they are coming for legitimate reasons," said Gene Hamilton, senior counselor to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Hopefully, the Trump administration will use the same interviewing techniques that Israel employs. 

Last month, Mr. Trump wrote an executive order banning travel from six-majority Muslim countries he said was needed to guard against terrorism. That order also allows for a "rigorous evaluation" of whether applicants support terrorism or present a risk of causing harm. 

Unfortunately much of the order was put on hold by a leftist judge in Hawaii, but the enhanced vetting procedures was allowed to go forward, which, if performed properly, would be an effective tool to prevent most terrorists from entering the U.S. 

The bigger problem is the threat of terrorists who are born in the United States, who are often radicalized by Internet Islamist sites. 

Homeland Security officials say the agency plans to increase demands for more information from all visa applicants including visitors, refugees and people who seek to immigrate here.

It's even possible the extreme vetting may apply to those from the 38 countries that are part of the Visa Waver Program, which must adhere to strict U.S. standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors, according to a senior official. This would include the U.K., Japan and Australia.

The biggest change in policy would be having applicants hand over their cell phones in order to examine them for stored contacts etc. So terrorists planning mischief will need to put their data into an email, leave their phones home, buy another phone and get their contacts and other information that way. Unless they're too stupid and bring their phones with them.

Another change would be to ask applicants for their social-media handles and passwords so their information can be seen by officials. Smart terrorists will figure a way around this by perhaps having more than one social-media account with posts about recipes and flower arrangement. 

"We want to say for instance, 'What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords,' so that we can see what they do on the Internet," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a congressional hearing in February. "If they don't want to give us that information, then they don't come."

That's as useful as asking people boarding the plane, "Did you pack that suitcase yourself?" Any good suicide bomber would answer, "Indeed I did."

In response to Kelly's hearing, a coalition of about 50 suicidal civil liberties and other groups stated that requiring passwords is "a direct assault on fundamental rights," including freedom of expression. They also said that if we do it, foreign governments would demand the same from Americans.

Potential terrorists have no fundamental rights other than the right to be killed. Giving up your password to check on your status isn't the end of the world because, guess what--your password can be changed the minute they hand you back your electronics. 

Just remember to dump your porn before you get to the airport, if necessary.

It isn't clear just how effective these measure will be on preventing a terrorist attack in the U.S. My gut tells me it would be about as effective as sunscreen on the sun, but I'm certainly no expert (but I play one in some of my posts here). 

Again, I would recommend to President Trump that he go with the procedures Israel uses because they work. There are too many ways around the digital jungle and old fashioned face-to-face interviews really work for the Israelis. People conducting these interviews need to be properly trained, of course, but it's doable. 

"The real bad guys will get rid of their phones. They'll show up with a clean phone," said Leon Rodriguez, former head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "Over time, the utility of the exercise will diminish."

President Trump had raised the notion of an "ideological test" for people coming into the U.S. and the administration is currently working to put this into place. This type of test was once used to screen out anarchists and members of the Communist Party, but now the Democrats have infiltrated that party and we finally voted them out this election.

"Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country," Mr. Trump said in an August speech. [He was not referring to Dianne Feinstein or Ruth Bader Ginsburg who see the Constitution as an outdated piece of paper.]

Some types of questions that may be considered include whether visa applicants believe in so-called honor killings, the equality of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life" and who they believe is a legitimate target in a military operation.

Libertarians and others see this as a problem. "It could deprive American citizens with the ability to interact and gain knowledge from the full spectrum of individuals and people who hold diverse beliefs world-wide," said Hugh Handeyside, an attorney with the ACLU's National Security project.

That's what the Internet is for--it's safer to surf than not know who you're letting into the country.