Monday, July 15

Trump faces growing state department mutiny against immigration ban



Donald Trump A mutiny among US diplomats was gathering steam on Monday as hundreds of state department officials were reported to have signed a memo fiercely dissenting from Trump’s refugee ban.

We are better than this ban, one leaked version of the memo said, arguing that it would backfire, making the US less safe from terrorism. The executive order, freezing entry for nationals of a list of seven majority Muslim countries, stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold, the memo said.

The memo is being sent through the state department’s dissent channel, set up at the time of the Vietnam war to allow alternative points of view to be aired inside the institution. Under its foreign affairs manual, dissenters are strictly protected from reprisals, but the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, warned the signers they should resign if they did not like the policy.

I think that they should either get with the programme or they can go. This is about the safety of America, Spicer said during his daily briefing at the White House.

A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travelers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer, the draft memo said. “Moreover, such a policy runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.

The state department management usually receives four to five dissent channel memos a year, but they are usually confidential and rarely have more than one author. By mid-afternoon on Monday, Foreign Policy was reporting more than 200 had signed it, and sources close to the state department said the number was climbing rapidly, which would make it unprecedented in scale.

The state department’s acting spokesman, Mark Toner, confirmed that they were aware of the memo.

This is an important process that the acting secretary, and the department as a whole, value and respect, Toner said. It allows state employees to express divergent policy views candidly and privately to senior leadership.

The last comparable groundswell of discontent was a dissent memo over the Obama administration’s Syria policy signed by more than 50 diplomats last June. That memo was the culmination of years of fierce debate, while it has taken just days for the Trump White House to trigger an even more ferocious backlash from the nation’s diplomats.

We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe. And we do not need to sacrifice our reputation as a nation which is open and welcoming to protect our families, the memo said.

On the same day, more than 100 former US foreign policy and national security officials from both parties urged department heads to do what they could to mitigate the damage while calling on the White House to withdraw it.

This order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives, it has caused a crisis right here in America and will do long-term damage to our national security, they said in an open letter to the heads of homeland security, justice and state departments, first published in Politico. 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.