Political 'Optics' Kept Social Media Out of Visa Background Checks, Ex-Official Says

Former DHS official John Cohen said department was worried about civil liberties criticism.
2:40 | 12/14/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Political 'Optics' Kept Social Media Out of Visa Background Checks, Ex-Official Says
President Obama heads to the Pentagon this morning for a meeting on the campaign against Isis. As we learn major government lapses opened the door for one of those San Bernardino killers to enter the country. Brian Ross is here with that. Reporter: Good morning, robin. Nishls the U.S. And Europe deal with warnings about possible Isis attacks to disrupt the Christmas holidays. New question this is morning about where the Pakistani woman involved in the San Bernardino shooting rampage should have been allowed to come here in the first place. In London, they say they have credible intelligence reports that Isis leaders want a paris-style take here timed to Christmas. Over the weekend, two men were arrested for the manufacture or transport of explosive or toxic gases as a search continued for four others. In California this morning, the FBI is not saying what, if anything, it found in its now completed search of this lake. Still investigating if more attacks could be coming in the U.S. And now, ABC news has learned that a secret U.S. Policy prevented immigration investigators last year from looking for tashfeen malik's extensive social media messages that the FBI says included talk of jihad and martyrdom. During that time period, immigration officials were not allowed to view social media as part of the screening process. Reporter: John Cohen, now an ABC news consultant, says homeland officials asked for new policies last year. But they were opposed by the department's office of civil rights and civil lishties. The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if disclosed publicly. Reporter: Malik received her fiance Visa last year in just three weeks, with no check done for whether she had any online messages. Had they checked her out more, maybe she wouldn't have got an Visa. Maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive. Reporter: If a statement to ABC news this morning, the department of homeland security says it has started three pilot programs to search the social media of Visa applicants. Insiders say it's still not a widespread policy. And major impediment. A lot of people are scratching their heads. Not widespread yet. A deadly police shooting in Los Angeles is getting scrutiny

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"2:40","description":"Former DHS official John Cohen said department was worried about civil liberties criticism.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/GMA","id":"35752555","title":"Political 'Optics' Kept Social Media Out of Visa Background Checks, Ex-Official Says","url":"/GMA/video/political-optics-social-media-visa-background-checks-official-35752555"}