And Who Will Vet The Vetters?

By David T. Jones on December 6, 2015

Washington, DC - There is a classic, albeit cynical, observation recounting an exchange between officials.

Official One: We have all of the facilities guarded.

Official Two: But who will guard the guards?

In short, the historical illustrations of dishonesty and corruption are manifest. The creation and installation of inspectors, auditors, overseers, etc may well reduce blatant corruption. But who will be watching these “watchers”?

And, from this reality to the exercise of “vetting” Syrian and other refugees seeking admission to our countries.

Refugees are always objects of pity and compassion. A dead four-year-old boy washed up on a beach wrenched heartstrings around the globe. These worthy emotions are particularly evident when the refugee is fleeing from persecution, disaster, and/or war; not just cynically seeking to better him/herself economically. We respond to individuals and families, who would much have preferred to stay where they were living but, often to save their lives, have taken a leap into the void hoping for a safe landing.

One certainly can sympathize. Indeed, I can personally sympathize as members of my family came to the United States as refugees. It would have been death to stay where they were—and the USA has been enriched by their presence.

But these are parlous times. The tens, indeed hundreds of thousands of refugees on the march north into Europe from the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere are not your standard, historical refugee. Watching video footage provides tear-jerking images of crying babies, distraught mothers, and wrinkled elders. But in the background is a disconcertingly heavy percentage of military age males, more often than not grim-faced and verbally aggressive. Europe has something they want—and they are not reticent to say it should be yielded up.

It is only common sense to examine carefully the bona fides of those seeking admission to our countries. They have no right to refuge here. (Indeed, it is grimly amusing to hear disingenuous Europeans whinging over the million or so refugees surging northward. Perhaps now they will appreciate the 11 million illegal aliens embedded in the United States and the challenges that more-of-the-same offer.)

Thus there is a push-you; pull-me attitude toward assessing the nature of the refugees. Even the most credulous will (reluctantly) admit that some screening should be done. In any harvest of 25,000 there are going to be some “bad apples”—and it takes only a tiny percentage of those with evil intent to wreck defining damage on our societies. Indeed, if you had 10,000 M&M candies but knew that 10 were poisoned, how many would you eat?

The United States having been once burned is obviously twice shy. Our sympathy with the refugees is abstract; our fear of adverse consequences from refugee-connected terrorism is visceral. It verges on the maliciously disingenuous to suggest such skepticism equates with sending per-World War II Jews to Holocaust gas chambers. And, bluntly, popular confidence in the blithe assurances of the Obama administration is minimal. Veracity and this government’s political objectives are not always a good match, e.g., “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

By nature, Canadians, having suffered nothing comparable to 9/11, are dismissing as “one off” the various “lone wolf” terrorist attacks earlier this year. They are almost genetically driven to err on the side of compassion for those that have suffered. Canadians do not expect people to lie to them systematically and proficiently. They take people at face value. Those normally dealing with refugees or immigrants seek to find ways to provide solace and support for them. Actually, expelling refugees once in Canada verges on impossible.

Although a generation old, a vignette is illustrative. In Brussels Haitians were seeking visas to enter the United States. Their passports were blatantly fraudulent. Rejected out-of-hand, the Haitians next planned to try the Canadian embassy. Overhearing their Creole French, the consular officer heard them say, “The Canadians are easier.” After they departed, the U.S. consular officer called a Canadian counterpart to warn him. The Canadian blithely responded, “We don’t get frauds.” The U.S. consular officer didn’t argue, but wondered what planet he occupied.

So the vetter will see every level of fraud with concurrent offers of bribes, monetary and sexual. There is no dishonor involved in lying to a government official—it is standard operating procedure. It is the problem for the bureaucrat to sort the honest from the dishonest when all are at least somewhat dishonest.

The answer is not compassion but gimlet-eyed skepticism


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