Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Robust Vetting Proceedures"

The White House claims that refugees from the Middle East are subjected to a "robust vetting procedure."

Saying something does not make it so.

The thumbnail description of their procedure involves information that is in cyber space.  That means one can assume the identity of somebody who died and be reborn as somebody who is squeaky clean.  Our ability to determine whether any particular person from an area experiencing civil war is deceased is precisely 0.000%.

The "robust vetting procedures" cited by the White House might work well for folks like Obama's daughters.  If they are like most Americans they will take 25,000 "selfies" in their life time.  It is child's play to review their Facebook lives and construct a network of people who can confirm, or deny, the veracity of their identity.

Refugees do not leave a trail rich in verifiable details.  Were I attempting to infiltrate, I would do a cursory search on the ten folks we just executed beside the road and pick the identity of the one who was not carrying a cell phone.

Even when pictures are available they are of little use.  Few people actually look like the photo on their driver's license.  We lose hair.  We gain a few pounds.  We change our shirt.   Nobody really expects a person to look like their photo ID.  Consequently, very few agents will study them for details like noses and ears.

"Robust Vetting Procedure":  One cannot make that statement unless it was tested and surpassed minimum benchmarks.  Was it tested?  Agents test the TSA to see how leaky the inspection process is.  TSA checkpoints fail on regular basis, even when the distinctive silhouette of a handgun is clearly visible on the luggage X-rays.  Why would we believe that they will be any more efficient at sorting through 100,000 average looking people of middle Eastern descent?


  1. Speaking of TSA - robust vetting procedures resulted in 73 people on the terrorist watch list being permitted to work by the TSA.

    I'm sure the vetting of the refugees will be equally robust and effective.

    1. Is it ignorance, apathy or by design?

      Industrial processes balance the two major errors, shipping a discrepant part and not-shipping an acceptable product. The math is not that hard.

      Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT have a validation process to ensure that it is well written and students to fail a given question fail it for the correct reason (i.e., it is outside the academic material they mastered).

      Radiologists reading mammograms work to a window where a certain percentage of readings are referred for more imaging. And the results of that additional imaging is also boiled into the cannot have too high or too low of a percentage of confirmations on the re-imaging. In the case of too high a percentage, then you may be in a high risk cluster and not calling enough "shadows",i.e., not being sensitive enough. If you have too low a confirmation rate then you are throwing might be hitting the expected re-imaging rate but you are doing it by padding the count with random patients rather than the ones who actually need it.

      In all of these cases, the decision makers can tell you the targets for Type I and Type II errors. I doubt that anybody in the Executive Branch can articulate those targets.