The White House is criticizing a DHS report which claims to prove that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” That’s a problem for the administration, since its travel ban relies almost exclusively on country of origin to determine US policy toward immigrants. Though the last incarnation of of the ban is now dead in court, Trump has promised that a new, revised version will be announced next week.
The administration specifically asked DHS to provide background information on what sorts of measures would be most helpful in preventing terror. The resulting report contained publicly available information as well as more confidential data from a number of other intelligence agencies. The report notes what many people have already pointed out in response to the travel ban: no known terrorist attacks would have been prevented by this sort of ban. In fact, more than half of all terrorist activity is the work of native born citizens.
This obviously was not the information that the Trump team was looking for. They already have a plan in place and an angry group of voters who are expecting something that at least resembles a Muslim ban. Even as conservative apologists try to deny that the ban has anything to do with Muslims Trump’s campaign website still reminds visitors that “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The truth – which is now on display in the DHS report – is that terrorism prevention doesn’t need an overhaul. Especially one that draws the ire of many of the same nations that help us fight terrorism. And if there is something more we could be doing, it appears that it would have to start here in America rather than at its borders. But this is not the narrative that Trump ran on. In order to do what is right for America now, he’d have to admit that he was spinning nonsense then.
So instead the president decided to launch yet another smear campaign on yet another intelligence agency within his own government. It’s his only option really. Either something is wrong with the report or his whole basis for being president is in question. Trump called the report “sub par” and vaguely asserted that there was some bit of evidence that the intelligence community of the most powerful country on Earth missed. And in doing so, likely made himself a few more powerful enemies at home.
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