Vetting Syrian Refugees

 

The argument against letting them in is that the government, being completely incompetent, can’t possibly sort through ten thousand people and pick out the terrorists. Syria is just too chaotic, and you never really know what’s in someone’s heart and mind.

But if we look back to the discussion on our government’s programs that applied waterboarding, EIT, and indefinite detention, we were also told that the government only applied these things to known, dangerous terrorists.

So when and how did our government lose the ability to determine who was who?

There are 50 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Let’s see.

    Waterboarding, EIT and indefinite detention were applied to either known terrorists (mainly because they had bragged they were terrorists on public media) or those captured on the battlefield. We are talking about at most a few thousand individuals taken over a 15 year period. Captured on the battlefield.

    Background vetting of “refugees’ is being applied to hundreds of thousands of largely anonymous individuals with no known background except  what they assert, and making claims difficult to check because of the chaos from where they come.

    Could there possibly be a difference between those sets of circumstances and the difficulties of establishing the bona fides of one group vs. the other?

    Are you making a serious argument that they are alike or just tossing strawmen into the air?

    Seawriter

    • #1
  2. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    You raise a good point JR. One example of what both you and Seawriter are discussing is the Uyghur  (your spelling may vary) Chinese nationals. They are a small, oppressed group in western China.

    The unverified story behind their capture and internment in Gitmo was that they were sold by the Taliban to U.S. forces. Supposedly our intelligence teams offered rewards for turning in terrorists and some of these guys were rounded up and turned in for the money. I don’t know if that is how it happened or if that is a left-wing hatchet job, others at Ricochet may know better.

    The Uyghur’s were among the first released from Gitmo when it was discovered that although they were taken on the battlefield, they were little threat or value.

    War is a terrible thing and every time there are innocent lives lost. The decision we are faced with is when given a choice whose innocent life are we going to prioritize and protect?. In every case I will always choose the life and liberty of a U.S. citizen over anyone else.

    • #2
  3. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We can’t tell who is a terrorist unless there is data on terrorist activity.  We can’t know what’s in their heads or what will enter their heads.  These are traumatized people we don’t know what they will become.  Does bringing them here serve a purpose or is it a gesture?  Is that gesture worth the cost?  The costs include adding burdens to law enforcement and intelligence authorities that are already over burdened.  Do we want more Muslim communities in the US?   Has that worked out well for Europe, or any other place with a growing Muslim population?  They really need to stay home and help their countries develop a reformed Islam that can end Sharia and allow those places to flourish.   If they can’t do that there, and they never have, why do we think that will happen here?

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Seawriter makes an important distinction.

    JR is discussing the U.S. proactively capturing folks.

    Seawriter is discussing a group petitioning to enter the U.S.

    • #4
  5. Jamal Rudert Member
    Jamal Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    3

    Let’s see.

    Waterboarding, EIT and indefinite detention were applied to either known terrorists (mainly because they had bragged they were terrorists on public media) or those captured on the battlefield. We are talking about at most a few thousand individuals taken over a 15 year period. Captured on the battlefield.

    Background vetting of “refugees’ is being applied to hundreds of thousands of largely anonymous individuals with no known background except what they assert, and making claims difficult to check because of the chaos from where they come.

    Could there possibly be a difference between those sets of circumstances and the difficulties of establishing the bona fides of one group vs. the other?

    Are you making a serious argument that they are alike or just tossing strawmen into the air?

    Seawriter

    *****

    I think I’m making a serious point. Why were the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan less chaotic than Syria? Why tolerate this 180-degree swing in trust for our government?

    [Edit:]
    Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    • #5
  6. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Jamal Rudert:3

    Let’s see.

    Waterboarding, EIT and indefinite detention were applied to either known terrorists (mainly because they had bragged they were terrorists on public media) or those captured on the battlefield. We are talking about at most a few thousand individuals taken over a 15 year period. Captured on the battlefield.

    Background vetting of “refugees’ is being applied to hundreds of thousands of largely anonymous individuals with no known background exceptwhat they assert, and making claims difficult to check because of the chaos from where they come.

    Could there possibly be a difference between those sets of circumstances and the difficulties of establishing the bona fides of one group vs. the other?

    Are you making a serious argument that they are alike or just tossing strawmen into the air?

    Seawriter

    *****

    I think I’m making a serious point. Why were the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan less chaotic than Syria? Why tolerate this 180-degree swing in trust for our government?

    [Edit:] Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    When did we torture? There is a difference between the enhanced interrogation techniques we employed and torture.

    • #6
  7. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    First infect them with ebola. Then transport them urgently to the US for treatment. A process already exists for doing that (at no risk to the public, we are told).

    The underlying intent of Obama policies, it is becoming apparent, is to bankrupt our economy, bring down affluent/producers, incite everyone else with their supposed oppression and dilute the remnants of what was once a decent (though imperfect), productive, optimistic nation with unlimited immigration – especially immigration of populations whose fundamental beliefs do not comport with traditional beliefs here.

    • #7
  8. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    BrentB67:

    Jamal Rudert:3

    [Edit:] Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    When did we torture? There is a difference between the enhanced interrogation techniques we employed and torture.

    Putting somebody thru extreme physical discomfort like waterboarding isn’t torture?  Torture is putting somebody thru either physical or mental strain to gather information.  One could argue waterboarding is a mild form or torture compared to more extreme acts of torture.  The term enhanced interrogation just has an Orwellion vibe to it.   I’m not against waterboarding terrorists I just think we should call it what it is.

    • #8
  9. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    civil westman:First infect them with ebola. Then transport them urgently to the US for treatment. A process already exists for doing that (at no risk to the public, we are told).

    The underlying intent of Obama policies, it is becoming apparent, is to bankrupt our economy, bring down affluent/producers, incite everyone else with their supposed oppression and dilute the remnants of what was once a decent (though imperfect), productive, optimistic nation with unlimited immigration – especially immigration of populations whose fundamental beliefs do not comport with traditional beliefs here.

    Great analysis.

    Thankfully those of us that fought back and ensured republican majorities in Congress were rewarded with this agenda being fully funded even to the point of borrowing from our posterity to ensure its success.

    Is it too early in the morning for Friday sarcasm?

    • #9
  10. Jamal Rudert Member
    Jamal Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    Is it too early in the morning for Friday sarcasm?

    *****

    Let your freak flag fly.

    • #10
  11. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Jamal Rudert: Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    These are good points, I think.

    There is always a degree of risk involved in hewing to principle (no to torture, yes to sheltering refugees). There is also risk to abandoning principle (no to free speech that hurts my feelings…first they came for the Communists and I was not a Communist…) and, like you Jamal, I think the latter is the greater risk.

    That doesn’t mean we should be stupid. It does mean we should accept up front that yes, some terrorists will get in with the refugees.

    To limit how many, and what they will be able to accomplish when they do get through, we will have to spend thought, time and money on screening people at the front end (expect horror stories of people who are kept out and die as a result) and on increased law enforcement capability here (expect horror stories of people who got in and made other people die as a result).

    Embrace the suck! As the t-shirt says.

    On the other hand, if we go with principle—no to torture, yes to refugees—there will be benefits. America will stand for something even when it hurts us (badly, perhaps) to do so. Principles are always more impressive when you’re willing to hurt for them.

    And at least some, and probably most, of the refugees allowed to shelter among us will be grateful and will discover what a decent (not perfect) country looks like, and will either become and remain a loyal part of our country, or will be more effective advocates for improvement when and if they can return home.

    • #11
  12. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    It’s not a question of competence. People do not trust this President to properly vet refugee applicants, because they do not fully believe that he has America’s best interest at heart.

    If the White House was occupied by an American patriot with a strong foreign policy record, they’d be much more accepting of Syrian refugees.

    (e.g. The importation of Vietnamese refugees didn’t really start to take off until 1980, after Ronald Reagan was elected president. The last Vietnamese refugee came to the US in 1991. Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992.)

    • #12
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    thelonious:

    The term enhanced interrogation just has an Orwellion vibe to it. I’m not against waterboarding terrorists I just think we should call it what it is.

    Hear hear!

    I am not sure I’m down with torturing people but I applaud your intellectual honesty.

    • #13
  14. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    BrentB67:

    civil westman:First infect them with ebola. Then transport them urgently to the US for treatment. A process already exists for doing that (at no risk to the public, we are told).

    The underlying intent of Obama policies, it is becoming apparent, is to bankrupt our economy, bring down affluent/producers, incite everyone else with their supposed oppression and dilute the remnants of what was once a decent (though imperfect), productive, optimistic nation with unlimited immigration – especially immigration of populations whose fundamental beliefs do not comport with traditional beliefs here.

    Great analysis.

    Thankfully those of us that fought back and ensured republican majorities in Congress were rewarded with this agenda being fully funded even to the point of borrowing from our posterity to ensure its success.

    Is it too early in the morning for Friday sarcasm?

    Thanks. The ultimate goal, I think, is to collapse the system (à la Cloward &Piven) in order to create demand for and acceptance of a leftist authoritarian/totalitarian state. The storm troopers on campuses are about the business of exterminating all opposition speech – by those of us who see what is coming. In order to oppose, one must understand and explain. Without opposition, the impending chaos will play right into their hands. Note that the MSM is uncritical (if not supportive) of these attacks on free speech on campus. Once upon a time, free speech on campus was an absolute good for the left. No longer. It upsets the neo-Victorian crybullies.

    • #14
  15. Dietlbomb Inactive
    Dietlbomb
    @Dietlbomb

    Jamal Rudert:The argument against letting them in is that the government, being completely incompetent, can’t possibly sort through ten thousand people and pick out the terrorists. Syria is just too chaotic, and you never really know what’s in someone’s heart and mind.

    But if we look back to the discussion on our government’s programs that applied waterboarding, EIT, and indefinite detention, we were also told that the government only applied these things to known, dangerous terrorists.

    So when and how did our government lose the ability to determine who was who?

    In statistical hypothesis testing, there are two common types of errors: the false positive and the false negative. They have different origins, and, depending on the circumstances, occur at different rates.

    Failure to find terrorists in a population is an example of a false negative error. Labeling someone a terrorist who is not in fact a terrorist is a false positive.

    For the current example, the question is how difficult is it to identify all the terrorists in a group of 10000 Syrians versus verifying that all of the waterboarded detainees were in fact terrorists.

    These problems are not the same.

    And depending on your point of view, the consequences for making one type of error are much more dire than for the other type of error.

    What is an acceptable failure rate?

    • #15
  16. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Jamal Rudert:[Edit:] Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    So you’re throwing strawmen into the air. Got it.

    Wait- isn’t that torture? Quick- turn yourself in to the nearest UN tribunal.

    • #16
  17. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I want to clarify my view on immigration. I am in favor of moderate legal immigration of individuals from many backgrounds. I want immigrants – like those of the 19th and early 20th centuries – who want to become Americans. I am not in favor of mass migrations under manufactured duress, of groups which are not generally culturally compatible.

    Since the MSM does not report it, polling of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa is surely correct in showing that these groups overwhelmingly desire to live under Sharia law and do not oppose violence in furtherance of that goal. Large numbers of individuals with this fundamental political belief system, have demonstrated after immigration to Europe that, as a group, they do not wish to assimilate.

    Further, we see that the offspring of such groups are already radicalized in sufficient numbers to threaten the social order. How do you think the French government found the latest “mastermind?” Do you suppose the authorities followed niceties like search warrants and respect for privacy of communications? Regular repetition of such attacks, which is likely, will inevitably result in normalization of tactics which are inimical to those of a classical liberal society. We will demand totalitarian responses to secure an illusory “security” at the cost of our few remaining liberties.

    Those of us who are chagrined to conclude we must deny entry to risky populations are being systematically silenced by those who wish to bring about a totalitarian system “by any means necessary.”

    • #17
  18. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    (con’t) Were it possible to actually “vet” individual Syrians, I would not oppose entry to reasonable numbers of them on humanitarian grounds (a number we could afford). Unfortunately, we cannot look into the minds of those who seek entry and the ability to credibly learn anything about people coming from a country in complete chaos is simply non-existent. To suggest otherwise is pure fantasy or wishful thinking.

    • #18
  19. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    BrentB67:You raise a good point JR. One example of what both you and Seawriter are discussing is the Uyghur (your spelling may vary) Chinese nationals. They are a small, oppressed group in western China.

    The unverified story behind their capture and internment in Gitmo was that they were sold by the Taliban to U.S. forces. Supposedly our intelligence teams offered rewards for turning in terrorists and some of these guys were rounded up and turned in for the money. I don’t know if that is how it happened or if that is a left-wing hatchet job, others at Ricochet may know better.

    The Uyghur’s were among the first released from Gitmo when it was discovered that although they were taken on the battlefield, they were little threat or value.

    War is a terrible thing and every time there are innocent lives lost. The decision we are faced with is when given a choice whose innocent life are we going to prioritize and protect?. In every case I will always choose the life and liberty of a U.S. citizen over anyone else.

    Er, what does a group of thousands of refugees have to do with bromides about US citizens?

    • #19
  20. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Dietlbomb: For the current example, the question is how difficult is it to identify all the terrorists in a group of 10000 Syrians versus verifying that all of the waterboarded detainees were in fact terrorists.

    It helps to note that we only waterboarded three people. The media leaves that out to make it sound like the Evil Boosh was running an American version of Unit 731.

    • #20
  21. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Jamal Rudert: I think I’m making a serious point. Why were the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan less chaotic than Syria? Why tolerate this 180-degree swing in trust for our government?

    This is an apples and oranges comparison.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan we captured people who we believed were actively involved in terrorism. We did not capture or imprison every terrorist just the ones we could find and had some information to believe they were bad guys.

    It is a lot easier to capture some one on the battlefield and say this is a terrorist, than to just sort through a group of unarmed people not currently engaging in bad behavior and determine which are good people and which are bad people. 

    • #21
  22. Bob L Member
    Bob L
    @

    We had hundreds of thousands of military personnel on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade collecting intel and compiling databases used to determine who might be a terrorist threat.  Even that was an imperfect science.

    Now we are faced with tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have untraceable backgrounds storming borders.  There’s no way to legitimately vet these people.

    The entire OP is based on the false premise that identifying known terrorists is the same thing as identifying who isn’t.  They’re not.

    And lastly, does anyone realistically believe ISIS won’t try and sneak people into western countries?  And if they do sneak a few in, do you think those who made it through won’t relay the process back to the enemy making it easier for future terrorists to evade detection?

    • #22
  23. Byron Horatio Inactive
    Byron Horatio
    @ByronHoratio

    I will be amenable to bringing in non-minority Syrian refugees once we have brought every one of our loyal translators from Afghanistan and Iraq to America. I have a number of friends still languishing in bureaucratic limbo waiting years for an “expedited” visa. These are people who at great personal risk showed allegiance to American forces during the war. And our treatment of them is nothing short of disgraceful.

    • #23
  24. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    America can and will continue to say “Yes” to refugees.  We take in more legal immigrants per year than the rest of the world combined. We can do that without opening our doors to a Trojan Horse.  Keeping out Syrian refugees that are very difficult to vet is the smart thing to do, even if it is not the most humanitarian.  I prefer to think with the rational side of my brain when the survival of Americans is at stake.  We can help Syrian refugees in other ways that do not involve bringing them here.  I reject the argument that there are only two options (in or out).  One way we can help Syrian refugees is to destroy ISIS.  That is the humanitarian response I prefer.

    • #24
  25. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Jamal Rudert: I think I’m making a serious point. Why were the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan less chaotic than Syria? Why tolerate this 180-degree swing in trust for our government?

    You’re not comparing equal things. We had a physical troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were capturing terrorists on the ground. They were in our captivity. We had human intelligence. We didn’t waterboard people willy-nilly. Only about three people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, were waterboarded.

    Know you’re saying, how come vetting unknown Syrian “refugees,” on whom we have no information is different?

    Are you kidding? These things are not alike.

    Edit: I see a few others made my point before me. That’ll teach me to read all the comments before replying! Oh, well.

    • #25
  26. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Jamal Rudert: The argument against letting them [Syrian refugees] in is that the government

    This is a straw man. There is very little argument against letting in the refugees.  The argument is against letting in terrorists masquerading themselves as refugees.

    Eric Hines

    • #26
  27. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    thelonious:

    BrentB67:

    Jamal Rudert:3

    [Edit:] Both the prohibition on torture and the acceptance of refugees are long-standing features of this country. We were told that we would be made safer by throwing out the first one, and that we will be made safer by throwing out the second. But the argumejts rest in a completely different model of how our bureaucrats operate.

    When did we torture? There is a difference between the enhanced interrogation techniques we employed and torture.

    Putting somebody thru extreme physical discomfort like waterboarding isn’t torture? Torture is putting somebody thru either physical or mental strain to gather information. One could argue waterboarding is a mild form or torture compared to more extreme acts of torture. The term enhanced interrogation just has an Orwellion vibe to it. I’m not against waterboarding terrorists I just think we should call it what it is.

    Waterboarding – the Torture so Safe, Untrained Lefties can do it to each other in public and not get hurt (or arrested).

    http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1901024_1890786,00.html

    • #27
  28. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    thelonious: Torture is putting somebody thru either physical or mental strain to gather information.

    You can torture people without the intent to gather information.

    Waterboarding is not torture, as proven by a number of journalists who willing underwent the procedure. Those journalists most came away saying it was torture, but the fact that they submitted to it proves it’s not torture. You don’t see them volunteering to have their toes smashed with sledgehammers, or their arms broken, or needles stuck under their fingernails.

    Anyway, waterboarding was used not to gain information but to gain compliance.

    • #28
  29. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    civil westman:(con’t) Were it possible to actually “vet” individual Syrians, I would not oppose entry to reasonable numbers of them on humanitarian grounds (a number we could afford). Unfortunately, we cannot look into the minds of those who seek entry and the ability to credibly learn anything about people coming from a country in complete chaos is simply non-existent. To suggest otherwise is pure fantasy or wishful thinking.

    Civ,

    I just made a joke about this on another post but maybe you’ve got a sense of whether this idea is plausible or possible. What about suing the Government because they didn’t vet somebody that was clearly a terrorist? I gather that is what happened with the leader of the group that did the attack in France. He was on a list and they could have documented him with photos and finger prints at the border, checking the data base before letting him into the country but they didn’t.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #29
  30. Casey Way Member
    Casey Way
    @CaseyWay

    Saw some numbers yesterday about refugees. I don’t have the link handy but will edit if I’m grossly off.

    Since 2011, the US has relocated about 700,000 refugees and about 2000 have been Syrian. The president wants to increase the number of Syrian refugees about 25 fold in one year. That alone has technical challenges as given the increased scrutiny they would need given the circumstances. So which refugees are we overlooking to make the change and what is the risk/reward between the groups?

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.