Kelli Ann Burriesci, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security arrived on Capitol Hill to testify in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Visa Waiver Program, and had no statistics on 1) “how many Syrian refugees entered the US in the last year,” or 2) “how many Americans have traveled to Syria in the last year,” and there’s more. Keep in mind, Burriesci is not a newbie. She’s been in the same position since 2007. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said his questions were to provide this information to the “American people.” He asked specific questions. She had She answered, “Sir I didn’t bring any of my refugee numbers with me.” And then she polished it off with:
Burriesci: Sir I didn’t bring any of my . . .the refugee numbers with me. I was prepared to talk about Visa Waiver . . . Kelli Ann Burriesci
Jordan: So you don’t know how many people have traveled and returned?
Burriesci: I don’t have that number on me.
Jordan: Ms. Burriesci, when I look at the witness list, you’ve got the longest title. “Deputy Assistant Secretary Screening Office of Policy Department of Homeland Security.” You’ve got the longest title and it says Screening Coordination. What screening are you coordinating? Is that just intra-agency or is that inter-agency?
Burriesci: It’s both.
Jordan: It’s both? It’s all of that? And the two biggest issues right now ––
we have these terrible tragedies, multiple terrorist attacks and we’re talking about the refugee issue and the Visa Waiver Program, and you can’t give us any numbers on either program?
Burriesci: I came prepared to talk about the Visa Waiver Program.
Jordan: I just asked you how many Visa Waiver Program overstays are there, and you said you don’t know.
Burriesci: Sir, I don’t have the number . . .
Burriesci tried to move to information about the 38 reciprocal countries who can come to the U.S. without a passport for ninety days. Jordan cut her off:
Jordan: I’m saying, someone from Great Britain comes to the United States on a Visa Waiver Program and they’re now in overstay. Do we know if that person, who is here today –– maybe they’re not even in overstay, do we know if that person has been to Syria before they came to the United States? Do we know that?
Burriesci attempted to answer about having intelligence involved, but Jordan pursued:
Jordan: I wasn’t asking that. Do we know that? Do you know the number.
Burriesci doesn’t know the number.
Jordan: We have people in that category I just described, come from a visa waiver program country, may have travelled –– they’re here today and may have been in Syria, Iraq or somewhere before they came here. Do we know that?
Burresci: If a citizen of a VWP country has traveled to one of those countries, there’s a nexus to the United States or if a VWP partner shared that information with us, yes, we know that information, and we will vet against it. We will also use our algorythm . . .
Jordan: Could they be here right now? That’s my question.
Burriesci: I don’t have that answer sir.
Jordan: Uh, alright, well, how about . . . can you tell me anything about the No Fly List? How does a person get put on the criteria for that? Can you tell me anything about that?
Burriesci: The No Fly List is a subset of the overall terrorist screening database. The Inter-Agency works together. The terror database is owned and operated by the Terror Screening Center, as I said earlier. Their criteria to get on that . . .
Jordan: How many American citizens are on the No Fly List right now?
Burriesci: I know there are American citizens on the list. It’s an extremely small number, but I don’t have my numbers with me, but again, that’s something I can easily get back to you with.
Jordan goes over the long list of things Burriesci does not know, and recalls her official title. Bottom-line, I’d say he’s astounded and disgusted. Just guessing.
These hearings give us a good look into the complete ineptness of government, but in the end, it’s a waste of time. There are ways to handle these attempts to stall, misdirect, and mislead. If Congress doesn’t have the power to make it clear the information they expect to hear, and to do something about it when the information isn’t forthcoming, then it’s a waste of everyone’s time and a waste of taxpayer money.
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