How a misreported story is changing U.S. immigration policy

The Atlantic reports: On Sunday, The New York Times published a scorching story alleging that one of the killers in the San Bernardino attack had previously “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.”

But by Thursday, the Times admitted it had gotten parts of the story wrong. Tashfeen Malik had not posted publicly about violent jihad before moving to the U.S. Instead, according to the FBI, she had written about violent jihad only in private messages—not public posts. The Times changed its story, issued a correction, and endured a par­tic­u­larly bru­tal pub­lic flog­ging at the hands of its public editor.

That correction, however, came far too late to put the genie back in the bottle. News of the so-called “public” posts had already rocketed around the Internet, been cited repeatedly in the Republican presidential debate, and, apparently, made quite an impression on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, Senator John McCain pointed to the Times report in an­noun­cing legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to “search all public records, including Internet sites and social media profiles” when vetting applicants to enter the U.S.

The same day, nearly two dozen Democrats wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson calling for “more robust social media background check process for all visitors and immigrants to the United States.” The let­ter references press ac­counts in­dic­at­ing that such work had been done inconsistently. And it says Ma­lik “may have ex­pressed rad­ic­al ji­hadist sentiments on so­cial me­dia platforms.” [Continue reading…]

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