Trump Screwing Iraqi Translators Like They Were His Hotel Contractors
Photo: US State Department

Last week, we noted that ugly bag of mostly hate Stephen Miller had quietly placed allies in a number of key government jobs to help Donald Trump in his mission of keeping refugees out of the USA, because we no longer even pretend to be human any more. As it turns out, that war on refugees has been noticed by the Defense Department, and a lot of top brass are not at all happy about the exclusion of refugees from Iraq -- mostly translators and others who made it possible for US forces to do their mission in the country. Reuters reports military officials held a "closed-door White House meeting" last week to let the administration know promises were made. Unlike some developers who blithely stiff contractors, the military thinks it's important to fulfill promises to civilians who help it. Yes, even foreigns.

It's really a very simple issue: If the US doesn't follow through on promises to translators and others, that's bad for national security, because what happens the next time we invade someplace and we need locals to help? For that matter, now that the US has very quietly announced it plans to stay in Iraq forever to "advise" the Iraqi military and make sure ISIS stays dead, the military will have an ongoing need for reliable local translators and other assistance. We don't exactly have a sterling reputation over there now, so why make things worse by betraying people we said could come to safety in the US?

Haha, the correct answer is "America First." It's now official policy that we refuse to be bullied by our allies, where "bullied" means asked to follow through on our previous commitments.

Reuters reports last week's meeting was mostly about the FBI's methods in conducting EXTREME VETTING of refugees -- yes, including those who risked their lives to help US troops during a civil war -- because that seems to be the main reason admissions have plummeted. Just how bad has it gotten?

As of Aug. 15, just 48 Iraqis have been admitted to the United States this fiscal year through a special refugee program meant for people who worked for the U.S. government or American contractors, news media or non-governmental groups, according to data provided by the State Department. More than 3,000 came last year and about 5,100 in 2016.

The sticking point seems to be an extended background check aimed at people from the nations on Trump's Muslim ban list; the new screenings require not only that potential refugees themselves be investigated, but also include a new

requirement that they submit phone numbers and email addresses for many more family members than before [...]

Iraqis can raise flags for national security concerns for a number of reasons, especially if their work for the military required them to keep tabs on militants and other potential threats.

Years after their work for the military has ended, it can be difficult to verify that their contact with suspicious individuals or groups was strictly related to their job.

The FBI said at last week's meeting, for instance, that out of one group of 88 Iraqis it screened, 87 of them had "suspicious information" on them, according to the two anonymous officials Reuters talked to.

Current and former officials said that is a much higher "hit rate" than in past years.

It was unclear to officials what exactly is causing the higher hit rate, and the meeting did not get into the details of the FBI's screening methodology and how it might have changed.

This is where Yr Wonkette raises our hand and says we bet it has something to do with setting the bar for suspicion so low that nobody from a war zone can possibly prove spotless, especially once you widen the number of family members you look at in microscopic detail. Bet some of the refugees had cousins who bought food on the black market or in-laws who joined the wrong militia at some point. US standards for approval as a refugee were already insanely high, as This American Life reported last year. Even a groundless anonymous accusation that's investigated and disproven can derail a refugee application, and those were the old rules.

Ah, but Trump has a constituency of paranoids who think every Muslim is a terrorist, and now the goal isn't so much to keep promises to people who helped us as it is to pretend we can eliminate terrorism if only we exclude all refugees. Never mind that there have been exactly zero terrorist attacks by refugees in the US -- refugees make a convenient target for hatred, and with Stephen Miller controlling the flow of information on immigration policy to Trump, the "president" likely hasn't even heard that the Pentagon and veterans are hopping mad about the exclusion of Iraqis and Afghans who've helped out US forces. All he "knows" is that he's keeping America safe, what a hero.

And in the meantime, people's lives are in danger. Refugee advocates say hundreds have been killed, wounded, or abducted, or face threats to their families because they're associated with Americans, and Reuters reports that as of July, the backlog of Iraqis who have applied for the special refugee program is about 100,000. But our government isn't especially concerned about those people -- they were dumb enough to help us, and we can't take everyone in, after all.

Really, they should know better. In 1975, we were so done with Vietnam, and abandoned hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese when we hurriedly washed our hands of the country and those who believed American promises to evacuate them. We're good at that shit.

A Homeland Security statement to Reuters emphasized the government's top concern is "making it harder for terrorists, criminals, and individuals seeking to exploit the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program," which tells you all you need to know about the administration's assumption: Everyone we helped is probably out to screw us, so the only way to be safe is to screw all refugees. You know, they hate us for our freedom.

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[Reuters / CNN / Military Times / This American Life / Last Days in Vietnam/ Photo: US State Department]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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