Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ding, dong, the wicked ban is dead -- maybe.

On Thursday night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC had an exclusive leak given to her of a draft report from the Intelligence and Analysis division of the Homeland Security Department that reinforces the data analysis in the Associated Press-reported leak from the same agency a few days ago (see ShrinkRap, Feb. 27).   Both reports lead to a conclusion that the Trump travel ban has no rational basis, a criterion that the 9th Circuit Appeals Court was asking for.

The earlier AP report used statistics of prior attacks from citizens of those seven countries to show that they have an almost zero likelihood of coming to this country to carry out terror attacks.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed to Rachel that this March 1st report is authentic.   It states that it was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Analysis, "in cooperation with" the following agencies:   Customs and Border Patrol, Department of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Counter-terrorism Center, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

This report's conclusion is even more damaging to the Trump ban, because it found that most foreign-born extremists based in the U.S. were radicalized after then came to the U.S., not before.   Here is the wording from the leaked draft:

"We assess that most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists [were] radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns."

Neither children nor their parents come into our country radicalized.   It is something that happens to the teenagers who have been living in this country for some time.   These two leaked drafts, both from the DHS's own Intelligence and Analysis internal group, contradict any basis for the Trump travel ban and put its future in jeopardy.

Rachel Maddow went further and said "I think the Muslim ban is dead."  She raised the serious question of why these documents were leaked, apparently by people in the Intelligence and Analysis camp itself.    As Rachel said, "they obviously wanted me to have this report, wanted me to present it to the American people."

The only reasonable conclusion is that these are serious, career intelligence analysts who fear that the Trump administration would suppress any such information so as to continue what they consider a political necessity to fulfill a campaign promise.

This seems to be happening throughout the government, including within the White House.  And, in my opinion, it says more about the Trump administration and what people have come to expect from it than it says about the leakers.    They fall more in the category of whistle blowers, doing it to save our democracy from a new presidential administration that seems more concerned with asserting an autocratic power and control than in protecting our democracy.

Rachel and Andrea Mitchell had a discussion about what this tells us about intervention into the problem of radicalization here in the U.S.   They agreed that what is needed is the community approach to working with these adolescents from immigrant families to address their experience of dislocation, abandonment, and isolation.   The prior DHS Director, Jeh Johnson, had started just such an approach.

Tragically, the Trump style is to scrap such "soft" approaches in favor of his bombastic, fictionalized, extreme vetting.  In other words, a strong-man, autocratic crack-down.

It's the same impulse that led him, in his budget proposal, to slash the budget for the State Department for diplomatic and aid work so that he can put in a massive increase for the defense budget.  I've been so focused on the Trump obnoxiousness in style and on his lies that I have not been looking much at his policies.     Wrong, wrong, wrong.


Thanks to Nick Visser and Elise Foley of the Huffington Post and to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Andrea Mitchell of NBC for reporting and opinion that informed this blog.

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