The House Oversight Committee Chairman, James Comer, gave a formal letter to senior figures in the Biden administration on Thursday. He’s seeking clarity on the programs responsible for relocating around 70,000 Afghans across the U.S. following the tumultuous American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Comer directed his inquiry to Dan Forbes, the chief executive overseeing the State Department’s Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE), and Joel Sandefur, responsible for the Afghanistan mission at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He wants explicit details regarding the programs, their contractors, and their methods of settling Afghans within the U.S.
The State Department, with programs like Operation Allies Welcome and CARE, aids Afghans as they integrate into American life. However, Comer expressed skepticism about the rigorousness of the vetting processes, especially given the chaotic nature of the evacuation. He emphasized Congress’s responsibility to provide transparency on these resettlement initiatives for the public’s benefit.
The letter, representing Kentucky’s Republican voice, requests documents related to the contracts, understandings, and origin of the CARE program. Additionally, Comer seeks documentation on the program’s purpose, mission, and goals and plans for its continuation or termination.
Further in his letter, Comer asks for materials concerning the hiring protocols for employees, contractors, and case managers involved in the CARE program. He also wants insight into the vetting steps taken when hiring these professionals. A comprehensive list of all personnel involved in the program since August 2021 was also requested.
Previously, the committee sought information from the Department of Homeland Security in 2021 and again in 2022. Comer raised concerns about the administration’s lack of a concrete plan for resettling Afghans. He mentioned reports hinting that some Afghans were permitted entry despite potential security concerns due to insufficient vetting.
Comer’s 2022 letter warned of potential threats, stating the possibility that evacuees weren’t thoroughly vetted. There was a specific worry about terrorists exploiting any security lapses.
A preliminary review by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General revealed gaps in vetting processes. As of November 2021, 50 Afghans with potential security concerns, as noted in DOD records, had been resettled in the U.S. This included individuals with links to explosive devices and suspected terrorists.