Here’s an example of an alleged “Snowden Effect” that seems tailor-made for the wingnut Wurlitzer since it blends the ever-popular themes of government incompetence and political correctness. If true, it actually is damning evidence of the Department of Homeland Security privileging “optics” over effectiveness. Via the Beeb:
Tashfeen Malik passed three background checks when she moved from Pakistan but none looked at her social media.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said: “Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik, maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive”.
Malik underwent three background checks as part of the process to obtain a K-1 (commonly known as a “fiancee visa”) to enter the United States and marry fellow attacker Syed Farook, the New York Times reported.
None of those screenings would have likely checked Malik’s social media activity due to a secret US policy prohibiting security officials from reviewing social media activity of would-be immigrants, according to ABC News.
The report says, in the wake of disclosures from Edward Snowden, officials were afraid of a backlash from civil liberties activists if agents were reviewing social media postings and knowledge of the reviews were made public…
Among the activity that was missed were inflammatory comments next to a photo of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center that were posted on the 10th anniversary of those attacks, the newspaper said.
Good Christ. Apparently Malik used a pseudonym; she didn’t post “I <3 OBL” and “9/11 4evah” on Facebook under her own name. But it didn’t take the feds long to connect the dots from her real name to her online handle once she’d mowed down a bunch of people with an AR-15.
To make it abundantly clear, this isn’t Snowden’s fault, of course. But according to this article, DHS officials have admitted that they don’t look at public social media activities when screening applicants from countries that are hotbeds of radicalization, even though social media is a known vector.
Why the fuck not? I wish I had a nickel for every story I’ve read about millennials blighting their job prospects forever with an ill-advised spring break booby-shot tweet. But DHS doesn’t undertake the due diligence of a corporate HR department? If not, that’s entirely on DHS, and heads should roll, metaphorically, of course.
More bad optics, from the ABC News story linked above:
DHS’s Catron told ABC News the Department is “actively considering additional ways to incorporate the use of social media review in its various vetting programs,” while keeping an eye on privacy concerns.
“The Department will continue to ensure that any use of social media in its vetting program is consistent with current law and appropriately takes into account civil rights and civil liberties and privacy protections,” Catron said.
Look, I’m firmly convinced that the anti-immigrant — particularly the anti-Muslim immigrant — hysteria from the Trumpenproletariat is as absurd as a fainting epidemic triggered by lightning strikes or shark attacks. But shouldn’t a “screening” worthy of the name include a rudimentary social media search?
And good luck selling the panicky American people on taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees now that we have a DHS official publicly expressing concern over respecting non-citizens’ civil rights and privacy during the screening process. That’s some bad optics right there. Expect the occupants of the GOP clown car to wave this bloody shirt from now until next November.