Trump White House Asks Intelligence Agencies To Prove We Need Travel Ban. It Does Not Go Well
You furnish the intelligence report and I'll furnish the travel ban
Donald Trump has this annoying habit of making news on weekends, darn him, and so we learned Friday night that the Trump administration demanded the Department of Homeland Security get out there and produce a report to justify the administration's new, updated version of its
Muslim travel and refugee ban (likely to be the same as the earlier one, but with a clearer allowance for people with green cards to re-enter the country). Only one problem: What the DHS actually came up with was a report reaching the opposite conclusion, obtained by the Associated Press. You know your travel ban may have a problem when the intelligence report comes back with the title "Citizenship Likely an Unreliable Indicator of Terrorist Threat to the United States." Here, let's have Rachel Maddow give us the breakdown on this thing, plus context on why it is Not Good:
Among other things the report, based on unclassified public information, repeats what we already knew -- the travel ban applies to countries that have't been the source of terrorists who've actually attacked the USA, or tried to:
The three-page report challenges Trump's core claims. It said that of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were U.S. citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban.
Of the other five nations, one person each from Iran, Sudan and Yemen was also involved in those terrorism cases, but none from Syria. It did not say if any were Libyan.
The report also found that terrorist organizations in Iran, Libya, Somalia and Sudan are regionally focused, while groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen do pose a threat to the U.S.
Oh, and there's more: The report noted that travel to the US by citizens of the seven banned countries is already pretty rare, as a portion of all the people getting visas to Fortress America. None of the seven countries even accounts for more than 7 percent of travel from the Middle East or Africa -- so Trump wants to ban the fairly few people coming here from seven countries that don't pose a threat, but isn't proposing any additional screening for people from countries that actual terrorists have come from.
Needless to say, the White House is quite sure if the intelligence community keeps looking, it will find evidence to support the three-month ban on travel from the seven countries that don't threaten us:
White House spokesman Michael Short said this was not the full report that Trump had requested. He said he believes "the intel community is combining resources to put together a comprehensive report using all available sources, not just open sources, and which is driven by data, not politics."
CNN reports the Trump administration hopes to increase the chances of finding some evidence to support the travel ban by
using a more expansive definition of terrorist activity than has been used by other government agencies in the past. The senior White House official said he expects the report about the threat from individuals the seven countries to include not just those terrorist attacks that have been carried out causing loss of innocent American life, but also those that have resulted in injuries, as well as investigations into and convictions for the crimes of a host of terrorism-related actions, including attempting to join or provide support for a terrorist organization.
And then there's the impression that the administration is looking for intelligence to support a policy it's already decided on, which is the sort of thing Donald Trump pretended he found shocking when George Bush pushed the intelligence community to find justification for his Iraq war. But this is different, because Donald Trump wants to protect America and keep terrorists the hell out. Especially from countries that haven't posed much of a threat, and of course from refugees, even if there's little to suggest refugees are a threat, either. Still, grasp at enough straws, and you can find an example that might provide a justification, such as the case of
Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan [who] attempted to run over and stab 13 innocent people at Ohio State University last November. He and his family left Somalia in 2007 and moved to Pakistan, arriving in the US in 2014. He was a legal permanent resident. His attack would not count using the more narrow definition.
See? Somali terrorist! Whose family left Somalia in 2007, when he was nine years old, and came to the U.S. when he was 15 or 16. If we can't ensure that refugees' children won't commit an attack at any time in the future, then we'd best just keep everyone from those countries out for three months while we improve our ability to predict people's behavior several years from now.
Maybe instead of leaning on intelligence agencies to find support for a policy that's already been decided on, Trump should be calling a psychic hotline.
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.