12/12/2015, "U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife’s Zealotry on Social Media," NY Times,
She said she supported it. And she said she wanted to be a part of it....Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country. But immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks, and there is a debate inside the Department of Homeland Security over whether it is even appropriate to do so....
In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, this screening process has been singled out as a major vulnerability in the nation’s defense against terrorism....
In an era when technology has given intelligence agencies seemingly limitless ability to collect information on people, it may seem surprising that a Facebook or Twitter post could go unnoticed in a background screening. But the screenings are an example of the trade-offs that security officials make as they try to mitigate the threat of terrorism while keeping borders open for business and travel....
Ms. Malik faced three extensive national security and criminal background screenings.
First, Homeland Security officials
checked her name against American law enforcement and national security databases. Then, her visa application went to the
State Department, which checked
her fingerprints against other databases. Finally, after coming to the United States and formally marrying Mr. Farook here, she applied for her green card and received another round of criminal and security checks.
Ms. Malik also had two in-person interviews, federal officials said, the first by a consular officer in Pakistan, and the second by an immigration officer in the United States when she applied for her green card.
All those reviews came back clear, and the F.B.I. has said it had no incriminating information about Ms. Malik or Mr. Farook in its databases. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security have said they followed all policies and procedures. The departments declined to provide any documentation or specifics about the process, saying they cannot discuss the case because of the continuing investigation.
Meanwhile, a debate is underway at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that approves visas and green cards, over whether officers conducting interviews should be allowed to routinely use material gathered from social media for interviews where they assess whether foreigners are credible or pose any security risk. With that issue unresolved, the agency has not regularly been using social media references, federal officials said."...
Image caption: " Credit U.S. Customs and Border Protection" at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in 2014.