Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Powerful experts warn court on Trump's travel ban

Here are some of the national security experts who have signed an amicus brief in the case against Trump's immigration ban:

Former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and John Kerry;  former head of Homeland Security, Janet Nepolitano;  former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former CIA officials Avril Haines, Michael Morell and John McLaughlin;   former Sec. of Defense and former head of the CIA Leon Panetta;  and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Their brief is a forceful case that undercuts the lead argument presented by the Trump Justice Department.   They state:  “We view the Order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer. . . .In our professional opinion, this Order cannot be justified on national security or foreign policy grounds.”

They further state that Trump's order “could do long-term damage to our national security and foreign policy interests, endangering U.S. troops in the field and disrupting counterterrorism and national security partnerships. It will aid [the Islamic State’s] propaganda effort and serve its recruitment message by feeding into the narrative that the United States is at war with Islam.

“It will hinder relationships with the very communities that law enforcement professionals need to address the threat. It will have a damaging humanitarian and economic impact on the lives and jobs of American citizens and residents. And apart from all of these concerns, the Order offends our nation’s laws and values.”

Several of these national security officials served in the Obama administration up until shortly before the Trump administration took over on Jan. 20th;  the brief includes this:  

“We know of no interagency process underway before January 20, 2017 to change current vetting procedures, and the repeated need for the Administration to clarify confusion after the Order issued suggest that that Order received little, if any advance scrutiny by the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security or the Intelligence Community."

Law professor Steven Vladeck, who submitted his own brief against the travel ban, wrote that "it's just not the case that 'many very bad dangerous people' were 'pouring into our country' prior to Trump's order.   "If anything, it's the Executive Order itself, and not preexisting immigration laws and policies, that poses a threat to our national security."

In other amicus briefs, almost 100 tech CEO's have mounted legal opposition to the ban, stating that it will be damaging to the U.S. economy.  Signed by Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, and Microsoft, their brief emphasized that the executive order makes it more difficult for them to "recruit, hire, and retain the world's best employees. . . .  American workers and the economy will suffer as as result."

A hearing on the government's request for reinstitution of the ban will be held today, Tuesday;  and a decision is expected by Friday.   For Judge Robarts, who was obviously skeptical of the government's claims -- pointing out that there had been zero arrests of terrorists from these countries in the U.S. since 9/11 -- this strong argument from these experienced national security professionals should be persuasive.

The Trump-Department of Justice argument is that the president has the power to make decisions about immigration and national security issues.   The counter to that is:  (1) that the Bill of Rights trumps that power.  This ban essentially applies a religious test to be allowed into our country, even though the order does not mention Muslims.   But, as shown in yesterday's blog, there is ample evidence that was Trump's motivation.  And (2) the Trump Department of Justice has failed to show any compelling reason why that right should be abrogated.  This brief from the former national security officials is the evidence needed to bolster that lack of evidence.


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