IG: DHS Admitted U.N. and U.S. Officials Traveling from Ebola-Affected Countries Without Screening

By Lauretta Brown | February 1, 2016 | 3:06 PM EST

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A recent oversight report by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general found that during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, "Diplomats, United Nations workers, U.S. Government employees, or other dignitaries were not thoroughly scrutinized or were incorrectly assumed to be exempt from Ebola screening” by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  

The DHS Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Audit Division confirmed to CNSNews.com via email that some of these dignitaries “were allowed back into the US from Ebola-affected countries without screening.”

The report, “DHS' Ebola Response Needs Better Coordination, Training, and Execution,” contained information from “an internal CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) report identifying problems with processing travelers with a nexus to Ebola-affected countries,” according to the DHS IG Office.

CNSNews.com asked how many of the dignitaries mentioned in the IG report were exempt from screening, and the IG explained that the internal CBP report “did not stipulate the number of instances that Diplomats, UN workers, government employees or other dignitaries were exempted from screening.”

The internal CBP report also did not stipulate whether the diplomats erroneously exempted from screening were U.S. or foreign diplomats.

CNSNews.com also reached out to CBP about the report asking, “How many of these ‘Diplomats, United Nations workers, U.S. Government employees, or other dignitaries’ were exempted from screening, and why did that occur?”

No response was received by press time. 

The report also found that CBP “released 169 passengers with recent travel to an Ebola-affected country into the public from October 2014 through June 2015, without ensuring passengers had their temperatures taken, or were otherwise cleared by health professionals."  

CNSNews.com asked the IG whether these 169 individuals were not screened in addition to the dignitaries mentioned on the report or if that number included them.

The IG replied that the 169 passengers identified in the report were “at ports other than the 5 main airports (JFK/Newark/Chicago/Atlanta/Dulles) that passengers were funneled to for Ebola screening.”

According to the IG, the internal CBP report, which identified the erroneous exemption of dignitaries, “included all ports of entry,” and because “CBP did not include specific numbers in their report or the locations where the passengers arrived in the U.S.,” the IG “cannot determine if there are passengers that did not complete screening in addition to the 169 identified in the report.”

Additionally, the IG report found that due to “multiple errors in CBP Ebola screening data,” which the CBP attributed to “inconsistent understanding, variances in data entry, and differences in activity summarized by CBP personnel,” the CBP Ebola screening data “is unreliable and CBP cannot determine how many passengers were not fully screened.”

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