On tonight's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" segment wherein Hardball host Chris Matthews challenged his roundtable panelists to break some news, panelist Michelle Bernard succeeded when she informed the MSNBC anchor that Obama administration policy forbade visa-application screeners from looking at social media accounts for applicants like Tashfeen Malik, the female jihadi in the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
But this isn't exactly a late-breaking development. Brian Ross of ABC News reported on it Monday morning on Good Morning America.
Here's the relevant video and transcript:
December 14, 2015; 7:54 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We're back with the inimitable Hardball roundtable. Michelle, tell me something I don't know.
MICHELLE BERNARD, Bernard Center president: So tomorrow night and going forward, look for what I believe is going to be the new mantra of the far right which is that political correctness kills. There has been so much news that's come out in the last day about the fact that the San Bernardino terrorist had many postings on Facebook and social media declaring her allegiance to jihadism, and the Obama administration said immigration officials may not look at your social postings.
BERNARD: Yeah. So she was –
MATTHEWS: You're sure of this.
BERNARD: I'm absolutely positive.
Of course, you'll notice Bernard's absurd spin on this damning news, casting it as an illegitimate critique that the "far right" would exploit.
But there's nothing right or left, per se, about the notion that it is sensible to look over social media profiles of visa applicants to see if there are any clues as to potential radicalization. Obviously there's no guarantee that it would have prevented Malik from immigrating nor that the intelligence would have been properly shared within the U.S. government and thereby perhaps clueing in counterterrorism officials to a terror plot long in the making.
That said, why hamstring government investigators, particularly when social media profiles are, by their nature, essentially public documents which can be a wealth of open-source intelligence data?