Democrat: Tighten social media screening of visa applicants

Greg Nash
A senior Democratic congressman is calling for stepped-up monitoring of social media accounts belonging to people coming into the country through various visa programs as a response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
“We have to do a much better job monitoring the social media of those people. That’s what went wrong,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in an interview airing Sunday with John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM 970. 
{mosads}Israel, a prominent member of president’s party, joined a bipartisan group that said the Obama administration is not doing enough to scrutinize Twitter and Facebook for signs of imminent terror threats. 
In the days following the attack earlier this month, which killed 14 people, reports emerged that one of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik,  publicly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Facebook. 
But FBI Director James Comey said Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook only communicated their goals of “jihad and martyrdom” in private messages.
Still, Israel said, the attack shows more must be done to monitor the online activity of foreign travelers.
“She was actually using social media to advance really violent views, and we didn’t pick that up,” Israel said of Malik. “That’s a mistake and it has to be corrected.”
Malik, a Pakistani national, came to the U.S. on a visa after getting engaged to marry Farook, an American citizen born in Chicago. 
The Department of Homeland Security came under fire this month after a report that it decided against ending a secret policy that blocks immigration officials from screening the social media accounts of visa applicants. 
The agency said it screens some immigrants and tourists occasionally but that the searches are not mandatory. 
Israel also expressed hope that Congress next year will advance a controversial bill to ramp up restrictions on Syrian refugees. 
“There are some negotiations that I hope will arrive at a plan to provide the additional and enhanced screening necessary but at the same time make sure, if there is a Syrian mom who is trying to protect her children from ISIS radicalization, indoctrination or beheading, that there is a path for that mom and her kids to come to he U.S. so as long we know they are not security threats,” he said. 
The New York lawmaker was one of 47 House Democrats to back the bill, which Obama threatened to veto. 
The House passed the legislation by an overwhelming margin. But it was left out of the year-end government funding package, and the Senate has yet to take action on the measure. 
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