President Donald Trump has been talking about "extreme vetting" of foreign refugees entering the country since last year's presidential campaign. But now we may be getting a clearer definition of exactly what he meant. A new report in the Wall Street Journal outlines possible tougher vetting procedures under consideration by the Trump administration. Those procedures include asking people to turn over cell phones and social media passwords, and even an ideological test to see if someone shares American values.
These measures may prove controversial, but counterterrorism expert and former FBI agent James Conway, president of Global Intelligence Strategies, believes they are necessary. "In a world where trucks are being driven into shoppers and women and children nearly on a weekly basis throughout the western world, I think it's just common sense that we do some extreme vetting," says Conway.
Conway doesn't believe that asking about people's values is much different from the information we currently seek on foreign travelers. "I mean, we ask people for their place of birth, their date of birth, we ask them for their social security number," he says. "When I apply for visas as I travel about the world to go to foreign countries, I have to provide all kinds of personal data."
Beyond the ideology test, demanding the cell phones and social media passwords of unknown foreign nationals entering the country is also legitimate for counterterrorism, according to Conway. "That gives the intelligence community and immigration folks a chance to drill down and connect those possible dots, and determine if somebody is a problem or could represent a threat to our national security," he says.