Tag Archives: ISAF

How Will We Screen Out Terrorists Among Syrian Refugees?

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama announced the United States will welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement over the next 12 months. Now, sane Americans must wonder how government officials will screen out terrorists among the refugees entering the country through refugee processing centers in almost every state.

This U.S. Department of State map shows where refugees, including those from Syria, will be sent.

This U.S. Department of State map shows where refugees, including those from Syria, will be sent.

The transcript of a State Department background briefing for reporters Sept. 9 offers some clues about how those ostensibly in charge of the nation’s foreign affairs programs — including Secretary of State John “F’n” Kerry and other left-wing political appointees — plan to ensure no members of the Islamic State and other Islamic terror groups enter the United States under the guise of being refugees. Michael Gordon of The New York Times asked the first question:

“Could you tell us, please, what the range of numbers is? You say you want to – the Secretary wants to increase the number of refugees that are admitted, so what is the range you’re looking at and what does that cost? And then it seems that part of the problem is vetting, in that the UN has submitted a list but it takes a long time to vet these people. Are you looking at committing more resources to speed up that vetting process? Thank you.”

As someone who spent four years investigating the federal government’s use of so-called credibility assessment technologies in places like Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq, I’m more aware than most of the capabilities that exist within our defense and intelligence agencies for conducting background checks and vetting (a.k.a., “screening”) foreign nationals. That awareness makes me more than a bit interested in the response of an unidentified “senior State Department official” to Gordon’s question. It appears below with acronyms deciphered by yours truly:

“The Secretary talked about a range of different numbers, but I will not be sharing them with you today. And there was varying views within the group from the judiciary committees of the House and Senate about how receptive they were to increasing the numbers of refugees coming.

“And the process to bring refugees here is careful and deliberate, and that’s – as a result, it takes a while. It takes between 18 to 24 months between when a refugee is referred to us and when they – if approved, when they end up arriving in the United States. And a big reason for this is the care that’s put into the security vetting for them. It involves several aspects. Part of it is that every refugee has their sort of case file put together with help from organizations that we fund overseas, and then those files and the refugees’ families themselves are interviewed by someone from the Department of Homeland Security, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. And then we also check their names against a whole series of U.S. Government databases to make sure that they’re not already in there – some sort of derogatory information about them.

“What we’re trying to do is weed out people who are liars, who are criminals, or would-be terrorists. And this is something that slows down the process and it’s taken very seriously by everyone involved in it.”

The response, especially the description of the security vetting process having “several aspects” and being “careful and deliberate,” reminds me of what I was told repeatedly over a period of several months in 2012 by U.S. military public affairs officers speaking on behalf of the now-defunct International Security Assistance Force, precursor to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. An excerpt from a July 12, 2012, statement appears below:

“We (ISAF) have today, just as we discussed back in April, advise the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in assisting them to develop improvements to the overall vetting and recruitment process for the ANSF. The 8-step vetting process, which we have discussed in the past, is the result of our advising on this issue. Just like everything else that we (ISAF) advise on in Afghanistan, it is an ongoing and continuous process. We continually advise our Afghan partners on ways to improve processes. Again, the Afghans have the lead and are responsible for vetting their recruits into their security forces.”

Two months after receiving the statement above via email, I learned Afghans had not been in charge of all of the vetting taking place in that country. Instead, U.S. Army personnel were doing much of the vetting and, by September 2012, had grown “increasingly frustrated” with the eight-step vetting process that turned out to be largely ineffective at stopping so-called “Green-on-Blue” or “Insider” attacks, the often-deadly surprise attacks waged against U.S. and coalition forces by allegedly-trustworthy Afghans wearing the uniforms of Afghan military, police or security agencies.

And therein lies the problem with vetting 10,000 Syrian refugees, a group Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, described as “clearly a population of concern” during a meeting of the House Committee on Homeland Security last week. [UPDATE at 7:55 p.m. Central: UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned that two out of every 100 Syrian refugees are Islamic State fighters.]

If federal government officials are not willing to subject Syrian refugees to the same highly-effective interrogation technology that was used to interrogate members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., “The Deck of Cards”) as well as hundreds of al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and other detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere around the world, then we might as well plan to see a significant increase in the number of terror attacks waged on U.S. soil.

At a bare minimum, we will likely see more cities experience the types of refugee problems the folks in Minneapolis are facing.

Click on image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo by Bob McCarty.

Click on image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo by Bob McCarty.

To learn more about the no-touch, no-torture, no-pain non-polygraph interrogation technology that was used with great success before its use by Department of Defense personnel was banned in October 2007 by James R. Clapper Jr., then Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and now Director of National Intelligence (i.e., nation’s top intelligence official), visit TheClapperMemo.com. There, you’ll find an overview of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, as well as several stellar endorsements the book has received. FYI: You’ll also be able to order a copy of the book!

h/t Zero Hedge

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Did Afghan Officials Play Role in ‘Extortion 17′ Deaths?

Could untrustworthy officials at the highest levels of the Afghan government be responsible for the single-largest loss of life in the history of U.S. Naval Special Warfare?  Almost a year after asking that question for the first time, I’m convinced they are. Below, I share information from an article I published Sept. 16, 2013.

Extortion 17 KIAs

Extortion 17 KIAs

On Aug. 6, 2011, a CH-47 “Chinook” — call sign “Extortion 17” — was shot down during the pre-dawn hours while on a mission to capture a bad guy in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province.  Among the dead, 30 Americans, most of whom were members of the U.S. Navy’s elite SEAL TEAM SIX.

Because the deaths of these “quiet professionals” came only weeks after Vice President Joe Biden compromised operational security by disclosing details about their unit’s involvement in a raid on Osama bin Laden‘s compound in Pakistan, some people — including some family members and friends of SEALs killed in the crash — believe the SEALs may have been sacrificed by the Obama Administration to appease followers of bin Laden.  More likely, however, is that they were set up by unvetted or poorly-vetted Afghan officials allowed to work closely with U.S. and Coalition Forces decision-makers.

Is it beyond the realm of possibilities to think Afghan officials are corrupt enough to engage in such activities?  Hardly  According to a report issued last week by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, the following is true:

Widespread corruption in Afghanistan is a significant problem and remains a threat to the success of reconstruction and assistance programs. In 2012, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan in a tie with Somalia and North Korea as the most corrupt country in the world.  NOTE:  Here’s the link to the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index if you want to see it for yourself.

These are likely the same kind of people who, after surviving a supposedly-thorough vetting process, have excelled at waging hundreds of often-deadly “Green-on-Blue” or “Insider” attacks against American and Coalition Forces mentors and advisors while wearing the uniforms of their country’s military, police and security agencies instead of the attire of government officials.

Exactly who are the Afghans officials who likely set up the warriors aboard Extortion 17?  Based on what I read among the more than 1,300 pages that make up the Extortion 17 crash investigation report produced by U.S. Central Command, I’d say its the high-level Afghans who serve on the Operational Coordination Group (OCG).

Early in the report, I found the transcript of a briefing conducted nine days after the crash by an American intelligence officer who, at one point, describes himself as “an SF guy by trade.”  His audience is a group of about 18 people assembled at Bagram Air Base as part of the investigation process that followed the crash.  The topic is the OCG’s participation in the war effort.  NOTE:  Because the copy of the report I received was redacted, the briefing officer’s branch of service and rank remain a mystery.  His words from the transcript, however, appear below:

“We made some real money with the OCG; they are the Operational Coordination Group and they assist us with the planning, and the vetting, and de-confliction of our operation,” said the intelligence officer on page 6 of one 134-page document.  “Likewise, once we are done executing the operation, they are able to send the results report, the result of the operations, up through their various administrates.  They are made up of the Afghan National Army, the National Director of Security, as well as the Afghan National Police Force.  They are here on site, but we also have them down at the regional level in RC-South and, in September, we are going to stand up region site up in RC-North.”

“So they have visibility on every operation?” asked the deputy investigating officer.

“Every operation,” the intel officer replied.

“So they knew about the operations?” the deputy asked, apparently wanting to confirm what he had just heard.

“Oh yea,” the intel officer confirmed.

“And they were briefed on it?” the deputy followed, again seeking confirmation.

“Absolutely,” came the reply.

Further down the same page, the deputy investigating officer asked another OCG-focused question – “So they have the ability, do they have approval authority on that, to cancel an operation?” – and the conversation continued:

“Technically, they do,” the intel officer replied.  “They don’t exercise it, but technically they do have (the) authority.”

“So they either task or approve the operation?” the deputy investigating officer said, seeking confirmation.

The answer:  “Yep.”

More than 50 pages deeper into the document, the investigating officer — then-Brig. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt before being promoted in 2012 — asked for and received confirmation from the officer representing the Joint Special Operations Task Force Intelligence Directorate (J3) that every mission is vetted through the OCG.  He also received some background knowledge about the group.

“(The Operational Coordination Group),” the J3 representative told him and others in the room, “was formed over two years ago when we said we needed to have really better legitimacy in the eyes of (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) in order to maintain our freedom of maneuver. So, these guys are high level officials from Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and the National Directorate of Security.”

“Really the only thing we keep from them, obviously, is the (Top Secret) level how we got to the target piece of it,” he added a short time later.  “They are briefed on all the targets prior to execution and, you know, technically speaking if they would come to us and say, ‘I don’t want you to execute this mission,’ we wouldn’t do it.”

So, according to transcript, members of the OCG knew about the Extortion 17 mission in advance, were involved in assigning and/or approving the mission and could have vetoed the mission, but did not.

After realizing how deeply involved OCG members are in each mission, I asked myself a question — “Did a failure to properly screen top Afghan government officials before they were allowed to serve on the OCG help bring down Extortion 17?” — and set out to answer it.

SEARCH FOR AN ANSWER

I began by searching online for accurate information about the OCG.  Unfortunately, I found very little information about the group’s existence prior to the crash of Extortion 17. Even the International Security Assistance Force/NATO website contained no mentions of the OCG prior to the crash.

The only online mention of the OCG prior to the crash appeared in a Spring 2007 NATO Review article.  In it, the author, British Army Gen. David Richards, described the introduction of the OCG as a “significant development.”  NOTE:  “Spring 2007″ is a lot earlier than the “two years ago” description (i.e., August 2009) given by the J3 officer as the approximate date of the OCG’s launch.

Eight months after the crash, a DoD news release did mention the OCG, stating that the group had been given the authority to review and approve all special operations missions and to participate in intelligence fusion, monitor mission execution and make notifications to provincial governors.  Two months after that, an ISAF news release confirmed the same.

QUESTIONS ASKED

In addition to searching online, I submitted a list of questions to ISAF public affairs officers via email the morning of Sept. 11.  I wanted to know when and why the OCG was established and who participates in the OCG or comprises its membership.  Most importantly, I wanted to know if non-American and non-NATO individuals are vetted prior to their involvement in OCG and asked for a description of the vetting process if they are.

Two days later, the response I received from Lt. Col. Will Griffin, an Army public affairs officer assigned to ISAF Headquarters, was vague at best:

The OCG was established in 2010 to communicate ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters’ intentions to our Afghan partners in an expedient and concise manner and likewise provide a means for Afghan National Security Force to convey their concerns and intentions to ISAF SOF HQ.

The OCG is comprised of representatives from coalition forces and Afghan liaison officers.  All Afghan partners are screened and certified by their ministries, as well as completing the same verification process as all liaison officers that work in secure ISAF installations.

Ten minutes after reading Colonel Griffin’s response, I replied by pointing out to the colonel that he had not included a requested description of the vetting process used to screen non-American and non-NATO members of the OCG.   Then I waited for another 15 hours.  Rather than receive a description of the vetting process, however, I received the following message:

The vetting process is a comprehensive look at the individual’s background, associates, personal history, etc.  Operational security considerations prevent me to go into further depth.

After Colonel Griffin offered little in terms of knowledge about the process used — if, in fact, there is one — to vet OCG members, I conducted a less-than-scientific survey of other sources, including friends and acquaintances who’ve spent varying lengths of time in Afghanistan and family members of American “Green-on-Blue” casualties.  The general consensus:  Afghans cannot be trusted.

QUESTIONS REMAIN

Does this information prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some Afghan members of the OCG are corrupt?  No.

Does it prove that Afghan members of the OCG engaged in an effort to down Extortion 17?  No.

Does it prove the OCG has been comprised by Afghans who may be subject to a vetting process that’s even less stringent than that the one used to screen entry-level policemen, security guards and soldiers?  No.

Do negative answers to the three questions above mean the case is closed?  No!  Instead, they should prompt Americans to demand answers from their elected officials about Extortion 17 in much the same way they’ve demanded answers to questions surrounding the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

In addition, I recommend reading, BETRAYED: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father, by Billy Vaughn.  Along with his wife, Karen, the author of this book has spent a great deal of time and energy looking into the cause of the crash for one very personal reason:  Extortion 17 was the final mission of their son, Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn.

As you near the end of Vaughn’s book, you’ll find references to The Clapper Memo, my latest nonfiction book in which I share in-depth details about “Green-on-Blue”/”Insider” Attacks discovered during my four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph. I hope you’ll order a copy of my book, too.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

DoD Still Keeping Best Vetting Technology From Warfighters

I’ve asked a lot of questions in recent years about the measures being employed to stop so-called “Green-on-Blue” attacks by members of the Afghan National Security Force against the U.S. and coalition personnel.  Two years ago today, I concluded that some — if not all — of the answers I had received from official U.S. and coalition spokespersons in Afghanistan were simply not true. Today, Defense Department leaders are keeping the best vetting technology on the market out of the hands of our nation’s warfighters.

TCM_Bailey_Endorsement

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My conclusion stemmed from what I read in the first paragraph of TIME/World reporter John Wendle’s article published Sept. 4, 2012:

Alam Gul, a potential Afghan Local Police (ALP) recruit sat cross-legged on a mat outside the unit’s crumbling, mud-brick headquarters in the village of Tabin, in Kandahar’s restive Arghandab district, alternately looking at his hands and at the sky as he answered a series of questions.  Two ALP members sat watching nearby, while others washed motorbikes or lounged in the sun.  The U.S. Army specialist and staff sergeant in charge of the interview were getting increasingly frustrated with the young man.

The words in the final sentence of that paragraph revealed what the reporter interpreted was happening before his eyes.  At the same time, they ran counter to everything I had been told since April 4, 2012.

After I asked Army Lt. Colonel Jimmie E. Cummings about the process via which ANSF members are being vetted prior to working alongside U.S. and coalition forces, the International Security Assistance Force public affairs officer told me via email that “ISAF or U.S. are not responsible for vetting Afghans for either the Afghan National Army or Police. The Afghans use a 8-step process in vetting their candidates.”

Responding to similar questions July 4, Colonel Cummings reassured me nothing had changed and that Afghans were still in charge:

“We (ISAF) have today, just as we discussed back in April, advise the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in assisting them to develop improvements to the overall vetting and recruitment process for the ANSF. The 8-step vetting process, which we have discussed in the past, is the result of our advising on this issue. Just like everything else that we (ISAF) advise on in Afghanistan, it is an ongoing and continuous process. We continually advise our Afghan partners on ways to improve processes. Again, the Afghans have the lead and are responsible for vetting their recruits into their security forces.”

On Aug. 23, Colonel Cummings’ replacement in Afghanistan, Air Force Maj. Lori Hodge, confirmed again via email that Afghans were in charge of vetting Afghans:

“In response to your question on the vetting procedures adopted by the Afghans, the Afghan National Security Force is working hard to make their vetting processes more robust.”

As examples of the measures being taken, the major listed the following:

The ANSF introduced re-vetting procedures for Afghan National Army soldiers returning from leave;

• The ANSF outlawed the sale of uniforms; and

• The ANSF established an anonymous reporting system.

Further, the major explained that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had issued a presidential decree which mandates that Afghan National Army recruits be interviewed by a four-person council consisting of officials from the Ministries of Defense and Interior as well as from the Afghan National Directorate of Security and medical department officials.

In closing, Major Hodge reiterated what I had been told by her predecessor and referred me to the Afghan MoD for further information on vetting procedures:

“While we advise our Afghan counterparts, the vetting of recruits and personnel is an Afghan-led and -owned process and they would be the appropriate authorities to discuss it in more detail.”

Maybe Wendle misinterpreted what was taking place before his eyes.  But I doubt it.

One thing I’m certain about is that Department of Defense leaders are still doing everything they can to keep the best vetting technology available out of the hands of our warfighters.

Be sure to tune in to Freedom 560 with Ken Clark Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Central Time. I’ll be talking with host Ken Clark about “Green-on-Blue” attacks, Rules of Engagement and other hot topics — many of which I tackle in my book, The Clapper Memo.  More details here.

To learn more about the The Clapper Memo and read some of the endorsements it has received, click here. To order a copy, click here.

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Click on image above to order Bob’s books.