On August 15, hours after U.S. backed-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, Taliban forces took control of Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, causing many Afghan residents to attempt to flea for their safety.
Between August 15 – 30, the U.S. Military conducted Operation Allies Refuge, airlifting from Afghanistan certain at-risk Afghan civilians, particularly interpreters, U.S. embassy employees, and other prospective Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants.
These refugees have been evacuated to Federal military installations around the United States, including – at the urging of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy – the Joint Base in Ocean and Burlington Counties.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Rep. Chris Smith have recently stated that there are currently 9,000 refugees on the base, and a total of 13,000 refugees are expected to be brought to the base.
According to a draft report released by the military, the refugees will remain on the base for 6 – 12 months in a complex of 378 tents, each holding up to a dozen people. The temporary shelters would have power from electric generators and access to showers and latrines. Residents also would be provided with meals, medical care, refuse collection and religious support, among other “basic life services.”
According to information released by the Task Force-Liberty Public Affairs of the Joint Base, vetting is done by U.S. officials prior to travel to the United States – but not upon arrival at the base.
On Friday, August 27, Gov. Murphy established a Task Force on Afghan Refugee Assistance to “provide any necessary supports to ensure the safe entry and relocation to New Jersey of Afghan refugees.”
This task force is to be led by the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and it includes the heads of various state departments, including New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
On that same day, New Jersey Senate Republicans Robert Singer, Chris Connors, Jim Holzapfel, Sam Thompson and Declan O’Scanlon wrote to NJ Homeland Director Laurie R. Duran emphasizing the need to vet and screen refugees coming to the state from Afghanistan, noting that terrorists may have circumvented checkpoints and federal screening on the ground in Kabul and boarded flights to the Joint Base.
In the letter, the Senators said: “Our nation made a commitment to our Afghan allies who supported U.S. troops while they were serving abroad, but we also have a commitment to maintaining the security of New Jerseyans here at home. You must fully vet all incoming refugees to ensure that potentially dangerous individuals didn’t try to take advantage of the chaos of President Biden’s evacuation from Afghanistan to infiltrate the United States.”
Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) also called for “effective vetting” to ensure that no terrorist surreptitiously slips into any American community, noting that “U.S. officials have emphasized that the vetting of evacuees is thorough, but they have not provided much detail.”
The Joint Base has released some framed photographs of the refugees enjoying life on the base, however, very curiously, they have kept their gates tight shut to members of the media. Even visits by elected officials – which are typically open to the press – have been closed to the media.
According to a report by Jack Posobiec on HumanEvents.com, the commander of the Joint Base, Major General Mark D. Camerer, has issued a General Order prohibiting filming or photographing any Afghan refugee resettlement processing “due to a matter of internal relations”.
The order instructs military and civilian personnel that “photographing or filming at risk individuals from Afghanistan and other locations or human casualties, as well as the possession, distribution, transfer, copying, or posting” is prohibited.
Refusal to obey could result in punitive action, such as detainment, and offenders may be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or “other applicable federal law or regulation.” Additionally, failure to comply could result in phone or camera confiscation and restriction from base access.
Why? What does the base have to hide??