How did Tashfeen Malik slip through U.S. vetting process?

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Tashfeen Malik arrived in the United States with her fiance Syed Farook in July 2014. Just two months earlier, her U.S. government background check found no suspected ties to terrorism.

She was granted a K-1 visa, even though the FBI now believes she was radicalized before she met Farook.

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Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Rizwan Farook are seen as they arrive in Chicago in 2014

Photo taken by US Customs and Border Protection

The State Department says Malik was thoroughly questioned during an interview at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. She also filled out a questionnaire, where she was asked "Do you seek to engage in terrorist activity?" and "Are you a member of a terrorist organization?"

Five U.S. agencies also vetted her, checking her fingerprints against two databases. Neither her name nor image showed up on a U.S. terror watch list.

Malik did give an incomplete home address, which could have raised red flags, but it's not clear if it was intentional. Now Congress is demanding to know what questions she was asked and to see her visa application.

"They say that the vetting process has got all these fail safes but apparently there aren't enough fail safes, because she got through the system," said House Republican Matt Salmon. "How many others have gotten through the system?"

Thirty-five thousand other foreigners received K-1 visas last year. Just 618 applications were denied.White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the program will likely be changed.

"Somebody entered the United States through the K-1 visa program and proceeded to carry out an act of terrorism on American soil," said Earenst. "That program is at a minimum worth a very close look."

The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security admit that no screening will ever be 100% secure, especially in a case like this where Malik had no history of ties to a terrorist group and did not make her extremist views public.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.