During Tuesday’s Special Report, Fox News Channel confirmed that the Pentagon had suspended their program that allowed certain immigrants hastened U.S. citizenship, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI). “Lawmakers tell us the program has been, quote, "compromised." With reports that some enrollees are unaccounted for tonight and fears of foreign infiltration spreading across Capitol Hill,” announced Anchor Bret Baier at the top of the show.
Although Fox News Channel’s confirmation was exclusive, talk of a “compromised” program had been around for a while, with no mention of it by the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC).
In describing the purpose of the Pentagon’s program, Fox News Channel’s Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen explained that “since 2009, the Defense Department has enrolled more than 10,000 foreign-born individuals into the U.S. armed forces under [MAVNI] … In exchange for service, the foreigners selected for language or other needed skills can receive an expedited path to U.S. citizenship.”
The knowledge of the MAVNI program possibly being compromised by hostile actors had been publicly talked about since at least late June of 2017. In a public Congressional Hearing on June 28, Oklahoma Representative Steve Russell told his colleagues that “the program has been replete with problems to include foreign infiltration.”
“So much so that the Department of Defense is seeking to suspend the program due to those concerns,” Congressman Russell added.
The possible ending of MANVI was first reported by The Washington Post on June 26. “The Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation, a Defense Department memo shows,” they wrote.
According to an official Pentagon memo obtained by NPR, and reported on in early July 2017, “the potential threat posed by individuals who may have a higher risk of connections to Foreign Intelligence Services." “And it refers to an ‘elevated’ risk of an insider threat,” NPR added.
In his report on Tuesday, Rosen mentioned that the IG review of the program had been going on for 15 months and reported that the Pentagon was not answering major questions:
And one of those lawmakers is also saying to me now that he isn't getting answers from the Pentagon to the questions: Where are these people? What do they know? Where are they serving? And, what are their numbers?
It’s a truly shocking revelation that went unreported by ABC, CBS, and NBC for over a month. Since the program was completely suspended with concerns of it being “compromised,” and now with reports of unaccounted soldiers, let’s see if it will get on the radar of the Big Three Networks.
August 1, 2017
6:00:44 PM Eastern
BRET BAIER: But we begin tonight with a Fox News exclusive. The Defense Department Inspector General has completed an investigation into a Pentagon program that offers foreign-born individuals an expedited path to citizenship in return for military service. Lawmakers tell us the program has been, quote, "compromised." With reports that some enrollees are unaccounted for tonight and fears of foreign infiltration spreading across Capitol Hill. The Pentagon is saying little on the record tonight but is acknowledging, quote, "potential security risks to the homeland." Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen with the exclusive story.
[Cuts to video]
JAMES ROSEN: Since 2009, the Defense Department has enrolled more than 10,000 foreign-born individuals into the U.S. armed forces under a program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI. In exchange for service, the foreigners selected for language or other needed skills can receive an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. Among the success stories is the army's soldier of the year in 2012, Sergeant Saral Shrestha of Nepal.
But lawmakers on three committees tell Fox News MAVNI has big problems, that the ranks have been, quote, “compromised” due to inadequate vetting and some MAVNI enrollees are now unaccounted for. The lack of discipline in implementation of the program has created problems elsewhere, said Republican Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma, a retired Army officer who first sounded the alarm a month ago.
STEVE RUSSELL: The program has been replete with problems to include foreign infiltration. So much so that the Department of Defense is seeking to suspend the program due to those concerns.
ROSEN: In deed, Fox News has confirmed exclusively that the Pentagon Inspector General began investigating MAVNI almost 15 months ago and issued a report in late June, its contents classified, evaluating the services compliance with security reviews for and monitoring of MAVNI enrollees.
“The Department of Defense is conducting the review of the MAVNI pilot program due to potential security risks associated with the program,” a spokesman told us. Adding that they are suspended from taking new applications. But the Pentagon cited pending litigation for saying nothing more. A lawsuit filed in February against Defense Secretary James Mattis, in which seven MAVNI enrollees, all naturalized U.S. citizens, alleged their careers were crippled after DOD began restricting access to security clearances issued under MAVNI last fall.
GEN. JACK KEANE: I agree with suspending the program until we get to the bottom of it. If there is a penetration, this is a serious threat to us. ISIS has always had the desire to use migration as a way to penetrate into countries. They have done that successfully in Europe because of open borders, mass immigration with no vetting.
[Cuts back to live]
ROSEN: One lawmaker told Fox News that a backlog of cases led to applicants being enrolled in the armed forces before full clearance checks have been completed. Another problem was the use of MAVNI to hire workers like cooks, drivers, mechanics who did not possess the specialized skills MAVNI was created to exploit. Bret.
BAIER: That’s an amazing story, James. Do we know how many people are unaccounted for?
ROSEN: No, it could be-- We believe it's more than one because its “people.” It could be ten or more. We don’t know because the Pentagon isn't telling us. Some lawmakers have received classified briefings. And one of those lawmakers is also saying to me now that he isn't getting answers from the Pentagon to the questions: Where are these people? What do they know? Where are they serving? And, what are their numbers?
BAIER: And that’s a security we’ll be asking about going forwards. James Rosen, thank you.