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April 5, 2017 7:07 am

Another Attempt at ‘Extreme Vetting’

avatar by Daniel Pipes

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President Donald Trump. Photo: Screenshot.

Donald Trump first coined the phrase “extreme vetting” in July 2016, in the aftermath of the truck attack in Nice, France. For nine months, he and his advisers have been trying to figure out what it means in practice.

Their first iteration, announced on January 27, focused on countries, not individuals. This approach has twice been rejected by the courts; further, it inherently makes no sense. Some Iranians are friends, and some Canadians are enemies. Looking at countries is crude and ineffective.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the second try, in an article titled “Trump Administration Considers Far-Reaching Steps for ‘Extreme Vetting,’” by Laura Meckler. It’s good to hear that the Trump administration is taking this issue seriously.

The new approach has two parts. The first is excellent, requiring that foreigners who wish to visit the United States “answer probing questions about their ideology.” The article says that the “ideological test” will —  according to a Department of Homeland Security official working on the review — include questions such as

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whether visa applicants believe in so-called honor killings, how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the “sanctity of human life” and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

These questions echo some of the 93 that I laid out in my article, “Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting.” But I also discussed related research efforts, and how we should interview would-be visitors. So the new approach is a good start, but it requires much more thought.

The second half of the plan focuses on electronic devices:

The biggest change to US policy would be asking applicants to hand over their telephones so officials could examine their stored contacts and perhaps other information. …  A second change would ask applicants for their social-media handles and passwords so that officials could see information posted privately in addition to public posts.

“If they don’t want to give us that information,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in February, “then they don’t come.”

This article was also published by National Review Online. 

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