Pentagon: “Robust screening” for Afghanistan refugees coming to the U.S.

WASHINGTON — Evacuation efforts are continuing in Afghanistan and more than 37,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul in the last ten days.

Most of those evacuees are refugees and applying for special visas.

The Pentagon said it is screening evacuees before they come to the United States and using military bases around world as security checkpoints.

Department of Defense officials say five flights with 1,300 evacuees landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. Monday.

Press Secretary John Kirby didn’t say how many of those evacuees were Afghanistan refugees.

“We have intelligence and law enforcement personnel at these sites making sure that a robust screening is done of these individuals,” said Kirby during the Pentagon briefing.

The White House says they are allowing Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghan refugees into the states.

National security expert Jamil N. Jaffer said these background checks must be efficient and thorough.

“It’s really about making it a priority and that’s part of the challenge. The administration made it a priority to get out and get out quickly and didn’t make it a priority to take care of the people who fought alongside our men and women in the military,” said Jaffer who runs National Security Institute at George Mason University.

Jaffer said the biggest threat to national security is letting in the wrong person.

“We don’t want to let somebody with a suicide bomb on a plane coming off Afghanistan,” said Jaffer.

Additionally, he said how this process unfolds could have worldwide implications.

“It’s critical that we treat the people who worked with use right and we do right by them because we have an obligation them not just a moral obligation them but also how our allies perceive us and how our enemies perceive us,” said Jaffer. “If we’re seen as not a good partner, not keeping our commitment, people aren’t going to want to fight alongside us, our allies aren’t going to trust us, and our enemies aren’t going to be afraid of us.”

The Pentagon say it’s getting support from 26 countries as transit hubs for security screenings.