Secret Policy Blocks Agents From Looking at Social Media of Visa Applicants

Daily News Article - December 16, 2015


PLEASE NOTE:  Next week look for a special Christmas post. Regular "Daily News Articles" will resume Monday, January 11.  (Also, look for our "2015 Year in Review" news quiz in January as well.) 

1. What is known about San Bernadino terrorist Tashfeen Malik’s “radicalization” and U.S. visa acceptance?

2. a) What did Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refuse to do almost two years ago? Why did he refuse to do so?
b) What is the role of the Secretary of Homeland Security?

3. Who exposed the the fact that “…immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process”?

4. a) Define confirm.
b) Who confirmed Mr. Cohen’s account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants?

5. How did the Department of Homeland Security respond to this accusation?

6. a) After the San Bernadino attack, why do you think Congress questioned U.S. officials' failure to review Tashfeen Malik’s social media posts when processing her visa application?
b) What did Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer say about the situation?

7. a) What did Mr. Cohen say he and other immigration officials tried to do about the Homeland Security secret policy?
b) Why does Mr. Cohen say DHS refused to do so?
c) What did another senior counter-terrorism official say about the social media issue? (see. para. 15-16)

8. From para. 19-20: 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.

Civil liberties are defined as:
-rights or freedoms given to the people by the First Amendment to the Constitution by common law, or legislation, allowing the individual to be free to speak, think, assemble, organize, worship, or petition without government (or even private) interference or restraints. (from the Legal Dictionary)
-freedom from arbitrary governmental interference (as with the right of free speech) specifically by denial of governmental power and in the United States especially as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

a) Do you think non-citizens applying for visas are entitled to the same civil liberties citizens and residents of the U.S. have under our laws and Constitution? Explain your answer.
b) What do you think of the fact that Homeland Security had this secret policy? (agree/disagree) Explain your answer.
c) How would you describe Homeland Security’s refusal to read applicants’ social media posts as part of the vetting process?
d) Ask a parent the same questions.