Report | Feb. 15, 2022

Evaluation of the Screening of Displaced Persons from Afghanistan (DODIG-2022-065)

Evaluation

Publicly Released: February 17, 2022

Executive Summary

The objective of this evaluation was to determine the extent to which the DoD managed and tracked displaced persons from Afghanistan through the biometric enrollment, screening, and vetting process. We determined that the DoD had a supporting role during the biometric enrollment of Afghan evacuees in staging locations outside the continental United States (OCONUS) and assisted in screening Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants. However, the DoD did not have a role in enrolling, screening, or overseeing the departure of Afghan parolees at temporary housing facilities (safe havens) within the continental United States (CONUS).

Additionally, we found that Afghan evacuees were not vetted by the National Counter‑Terrorism Center (NCTC) using all DoD data prior to arriving in CONUS. This occurred because Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) enrollments were compared against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) data, which did not initially include all biometric data located in the DoD Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) database and because the DoD’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) has agreements with foreign partners that prohibits the sharing of some ABIS data with U.S. agencies outside of the DoD. Subsequently, in August 2021, NGIC personnel expanded their normal analytic review of all biometric watchlist matches to also include non‑watchlist matches of Afghan evacuees using all DoD data to close these gaps. Because NGIC personnel needed access to CBP records to complete this analysis, the NGIC entered into an agreement with the DHS to access the necessary CBP records. This agreement was set to expire December 27, 2021, prior to NGIC completing a full review of all Afghan evacuees.

Furthermore, during their analytic review, NGIC personnel identified Afghans with derogatory information in the DoD ABIS database who were believed to be in the United States. When NGIC personnel began their analytic review, they developed informal procedures to notify both the DoD and interagency stakeholders about these individuals. Subsequently, the NGIC relied on a broad dissemination list, with the expectation that the individual base commanders of CONUS safe havens would attempt to determine if the Afghan with derogatory information was located on their base.

We recommended that the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; the Director, Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency; and the Commander, National Ground Intelligence Center, extend the data sharing agreement with the DHS. They completed the extension on December 10, 2021, extending the agreement until June 27, 2022. We also recommended that the Commander, U.S. Northern Command, develop procedures for sharing derogatory information on Afghan evacuees with the DoD and interagency stakeholders. Based on  comments received from the Chief of Staff, U.S. Northern Command, and the Director for Defense Intelligence (Counterintelligence, Law Enforcement), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (OUSD[I&S]), we redirected the recommendation to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security.