GOP unveils bill to toughen checks on Syrian refugees

Washington Insider Jamie Dupree

GOP leaders in the House have rolled out a bill that would slow down the admission of Syrian refugees in the United States, mainly by adding in a series of national security checks, certifications and background investigations by both U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The plan is to hold a vote on the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act” on Thursday, before lawmakers leave for a Thanksgiving break.

While top Republicans had talked about a “pause” in allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., this plan would achieve that by adding extra layers of checks:

  • Each refugee would need a review by the Department of Homeland Security
  • The GOP plan also requires the FBI to take “all actions necessary” for a “thorough background investigation” before someone can be admitted to the U.S. as a refugee
  • The FBI and the Director of National Intelligence would have to certify that there has been a “background investigation that is sufficient to determine” whether the refugee “is a threat to the security of the United States.”

The measure would impact only those refugees who are from Iraq and Syria, or who have been in Iraq and Syria over the last four years.

CIA Director Brennan says more attacks likely ‘in the pipeline

Labeling the terrorist attacks on Paris last week a sophisticated operation, CIA Director John Brennan said on Monday that he fears the Islamic State is readying more terror strikes outside of the its base in Syria and Iraq.

“I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIL has in the pipeline,” Brennan said.

“This was not something that was done in a matter of days,” Brennan said. “This was something that was deliberately and carefully planned.”

In remarks to a global security conference in Washington, D.C., Brennan left no doubt about his fears over the group’s plans.

“ISIL has developed an external operations agenda that it is now implementing with lethal effect,” Brennan said.

Brennan also told those in attendance at the forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that U.S. intelligence is worried that the Islamic State has found ways to shield its communications from the prying eyes and ears of western nations.

“Their operational security is really quite strong,” Brennan said, as he echoed warnings from the FBI Director, that there are too many computer devices which cannot be cracked, either by law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

As for what might be next, Brennan said any range of targets are there for the Islamic State.

“So, it’s not just Europe; I think we, here in the United States, have to be quite vigilant.”

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