Is President Trump Making Us Safer or Less Safe?

This thread is a repository of articles and comments about whether President Trump is making the country safer or not.

Recently, he signed an executive order (EO), banning individuals from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa. Notably, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were not on the list. Also, individuals with green cards from these countries were not allowed back into the country.

I’m finding a lot of negative articles, but if you guys see ones that argue that Trump is making the country safer, please let me know.

The following is a list of articles that I have opposing the recent EO:

From The Boston Herald: Rep. Moulton: Trump is Playing Politics with Our Nation

and

Trump Immigration Order Tests Nation’s Principles written by Admiral James Stavridas (former NATO commander)

Certainly, there are risks. In the slipstream of refugees and visa returnees and amidst all the confusion, a few bad actors will slip in. But as we have seen over the last decade it is impossible to predict where the next terrorist attack will come from; and the overall damage we do to our reputation in the world is simply not worth the small incremental increase in our security.

There are hard calls, and I respect the challenges faced by the president and his team as they try to wrestle with them. But this set of executive orders stands in violation of international and treaty law, is poor policy, and fails the common sense check. It hurts us a nation, and places us on the wrong side of our principles. Let’s admit we are on the wrong course, and adjust accordingly before more damage is done.

From the New York Times, a State Department memo, signed by 100 individuals, expressing disagreement with the recent EO

It warned that the executive order “will increase anti-American sentiment,” and that “instead of building bridges to these societies,” it would “send the message that we consider all nationals of these countries to be an unacceptable security risk.”

Among those whose views will be changed are “current and future leaders in these societies — including those for whom this may be a tipping point towards radicalization.” It also warned of an immediate humanitarian impact on those who come “to seek medical treatment for a child with a rare heart condition, to attend a parent’s funeral.”

“We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes.

Here’s another tidbit:

Overseas, Iraqi officials said they were surprised by the directive, which they learned about through the American news media; they had not been consulted first. Objections from Baghdad are notable since Iraq is a front-line partner in the campaign against the Islamic State.

The EO not only could alienate Iraq, who is fighting ISIS on the frontlines, but the Trump administration didn’t warn the Iraqi government about the EO. What the heck.

Edit

Excerpt of a letter signed by 100 former National Security personnel who served both Obama and Bush administrations (some names: Madeline Albright, Suan Rice, Eliot Cohen, Richard Clarke):

Simply put, this Order will harm our national security. Partner countries in Europe and the Middle East, on whom we rely for vital counterterrorism cooperation, are already objecting to this action and distancing themselves from the United States, shredding years of effort to bring them closer to us. Moreover, because the Order discriminates against Muslim travelers and immigrants, it has already sent exactly the wrong message to the Muslim community here at home and all over the world: that the U.S. government is at war with them based on their religion. We may even endanger Christian communities, by handing ISIL a recruiting tool and propaganda victory that spreads their horrific message that the United States is engaged in a religious war. We need to take every step we can to counter violent extremism, not to feed into it by fueling ISIL propaganda.

Perhaps the most tragic irony of this episode is that it is unnecessary. We do not need to turn America into a fortress to keep it secure. Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has developed a rigorous system of security vetting, leveraging the full capabilities of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. This vetting is applied to travelers not once, but multiple times. Refugees receive even further scrutiny. In fact, successive administrations have worked to improve this vetting on a near continuous basis, through robust information sharing and data integration to identify potential terrorists. Since 9/11 not a single major terrorist attack has been perpetrated by travelers from the countries named in the Order.

Edit2

From CipherBrief. This article basically collects quotes from experts about Trump’s actions. Most are negative, except for General Jack Keane (although his comments aren’t all completely positive).

Edit3:

Edit4: “No Way in Hell General Mattis is Supportive of Immmigration Order” (posting: 1/31/2017)

Also,

Edit (2/9/2017)

CIA Memo Designating Muslim Brotherhood as Foreign Terrorist Organization Could Fuel Extremism

Takeaways:

The article shows that designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist group is a complex matter.

Conspiracy-minded individuals may be pushing for this designation, which is worrisome.

Designation could not only help recruitment and alienate allies, but it could also lead to persecution of American Muslims.

Also, from Lawfare blog: It’s Not Foreigners Who Are Plotting Here by Nora Ellingsen, who worked for five years in the FBI Counterterrorism Division. She analyzed the data relevant to terrorist threats in the U.S.:

So let’s take a hard look at some empirical data I put together on who the terrorists are and how they relate to the assumptions in the executive order.

For those who don’t want to do this deep dive, here’s a quick two-sentence summary: Conway’s position is empirically indefensible. Absolutely nothing in the large body of data we have about real terrorist plots in the United States remotely supports either a focus on barring refugees or a focus on these particular seven countries.

Nothing.

(Note: I stopped reading after this.)

7 Responses to “Is President Trump Making Us Safer or Less Safe?”


  1. Reid

    Panel Discussing the EO Travel Ban

    Benjamin Wittes from Lawfare

  2. Reid

    Important fact to keep in mind

  3. Reid

    From The Atlantic, an article based on interview with Richard Clarke, who served on the National Security Council for three previous Presidents (43, 42, 41). Does he think we’re ready for a major terrorist attack?

    “In terms of a major terrorist attack in the United States or on U.S. facilities, I think we’re significantly less ready than we were on January 19,” said Richard Clarke, who served on the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. “I think our readiness is extremely low and dangerously low. Certainly [government] agencies at a professional level will respond [to an attack], but having a coordinated interagency response is unlikely given the current cast of characters [in the administration] and their experience.”

    What does Clarke base this on?

    Clarke’s assessment is also based on the background of the council’s leaders; Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, was previously a Fox News analyst and last worked in government as a public-affairs official in the Reagan administration, over 30 years ago. Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland-security adviser, has experience responding to natural disasters, Clarke pointed out, and the military veterans (including McMaster) in contention for Flynn’s position when we spoke on Sunday had a wealth of combat experience. But that’s different than ensuring that a hulking government bureaucracy reacts swiftly and effectively to an incident like a terrorist attack. “I don’t know that there’s a single person [on Trump’s National Security Council] who’s ever had a senior position managing a national-security crisis out of Washington,” Clarke said.

    Here’s Clarke’s description of the function of the National Security Council:

    The National Security Council, Clarke explained, is like an “orchestra conductor,” harmonizing the work of agencies ranging from the FBI to FEMA to the Federal Aviation Administration. “There was a tendency in the [George W.] Bush administration to think of the [National Security Council] as a foreign-policy organization. It’s not. That’s the State Department,” Clarke said. “There appears to be a tendency in this administration to think of [the council] as an extension of the military. And it’s not. National security is a very broad spectrum of capabilities of civilian, military, and intelligence agencies.”

    Later, Clarke says:

    “Trump officials appear to “begin with an assumption that they know what the problems are, and very often it doesn’t seem like the problems that they’re trying to address on a priority basis actually exist. They just think they do. They think there are Mexicans pouring across the border when, in fact, the traffic is in the opposite direction. They think there’s a problem with refugees from [the banned] seven countries coming into the United States and staging terrorist attacks when that’s never happened.”

  4. Reid

    Sebastian Gorka–former Breibart writer and now Deputy Assistant to the President

    From WaPo:For a Trump Adviser an Odyssey From the Fringes of Washington to the Center of Power

    Gorka believes that Islam is the main problem with regard to terrorist groups like ISIS. Here’s some responses to that from the article:

    Most counterterrorism experts dismiss Gorka’s ideas as a dangerous oversimplification that could alienate Muslim allies and boost support for terrorist groups.

    “He thinks the government and intelligence agencies don’t know anything about radicalization, but the government knows a lot and thinks he’s nuts,” said Cindy Storer, a former CIA analyst who developed the agency models that trace the path from religious zealotry to violence.

    Religious scholars are equally withering. “I can’t overstate how profoundly dangerous this is,” said Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Duke University. “This is music to the ears of [the Islamic State]. This is what they seek.”

  5. Reid

    Something Else to Keep in Mind

  6. Reid

    Ball Game–the Travel Ban is a Dumb Idea

    Rachel Maddow Drives a Stake Into the Heart of the Travel Ban

    This is devastating in my opinion. As objective as I can be, based on what Maddow says, the ban is just plain stupid–and, while she doesn’t mention this, it makes us less safe in the process! One other thing. The descriptions of the way the Trump administration has handled this as well make me think of one word: clown show.

    Edit (3/7/2017)

    From Politico: Trump Funds Immigration Policy With Cuts to Coast Guard, FEMA, and TSA

  7. Reid

    From Defense One: Generals Say State Department (Soft Power) Is Crucial

    Since releasing his budget request for fiscal year 2018, Trump has pledged to “totally obliterate” ISIS, and said “we don’t fight to win,” and “we have to start winning wars again.” But in the hearing today and in other public remarks senior U.S. generals have said the same thing previous top war commanders have said for many years about fighting terrorism — they believe that success requires more than a quick military campaign.

    “A solely military response is not sufficient,” (General) Votel said in his written testimony. “We want to increasingly involve other elements of the U.S. government and the international community, recognizing that it is only through a combination of capabilities that we will achieve and sustain our strongest deterrence posture.”

    Edit (3/11/2017)

    From the Times: Trump Travel Ban Denounced by 130 Foreign Policy Experts

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