When President Trump signed Executive Order (EO) 13780, section 11 of the document tasked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to draft a report that would assess the foreign national terror-related threats to the United States. If you aren’t familiar with EO 13780 by number, perhaps you know it better by the colloquial reference — Travel Ban 2.0.
The report, as outlined in EO 13780, is intended “to be more transparent with the American people and to implement more effectively policies and practices that serve the national interest…” with regard to the threat of terrorism from immigrating foreign nationals. Under this framework, the report is misleading to the American public. First, the report offers a narrow scope of the activities in the United States related to terrorism, which implies that terrorism is primarily a phenomena of foreign nationals. Secondly, concludes with a two paragraph set of platitudes that provide no action plan for the future or why this report is so critical to the American people. Additionally, while it acknowledges that it ignores the domestic component, it unabashedly provides a paltry 11 pages (one of which is the title page) of information on what our President has declared is so critical to our national security that he banned travel from at-risk nations.
In examining the document closer, one of the examples that the Trump administration provides is that of an individual from India engaged in support of terrorism-related activities. He also happened to be a family member of a naturalized American citizen. To the best of my knowledge India is NOT involved in the travel ban document that authorized and requested this report (banned nations included Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). So one must consider why it was included as a case study example for the inaugural report that the administration claims is so vital to our national security. The suspect also arrived in the US in 1998, then engaged in activities that would take them out of the country to target American forces in 2004. Truly a confusing inclusion within such an awaited document.
Additionally, the report buries the following line as a footnote: “For example, these cases could include offenses such as those involving fraud, immigration, firearms, drugs, false
statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, as well as general conspiracy charges.”
In other words, in the conducting of a terrorism case, if the relevant authorities find that a foreign born individual broke the law pertaining to these other charges, the report is admitting that some indeterminate number of these individuals could actually have minimal relation to terrorism. It is possible, in point of fact, that there are some people on this list that have NOTHING to do with terrorism.
Without a doubt, there are actors intending Americans harm through terrorism, materially supporting terrorism, and conducting illegal behavior in support of (or while espousing belief in) radical Islamic ideologies.
But let’s ponder the implications of this report. The American people are provided a rather meager report that, frankly, should be much more comprehensive if the facts were so clear prior to the EO President Trump passed. There is no excuse for such shoddy research and failure to present more robust evidence and policy recommendations, in the spirit of transparency, as the original EO demanded. Moreover, in admitting that not all the persons on the list were filtered for relevance, we as a nation are accepting the blatant disregarding of the presumption of innocence before guilt when it comes to suspicion of terrorism; and an assault on the institution of habeus corpus for those unintentionally caught up in the larger investigations of which they committed no terrorism related crime or activity.
Lastly, by not including more robust figures and statistics on the full array of terror-related charges (not a real thing by the way), the Administration has willfully engaged in jingoistic policy that seeks to paint terrorists as only coming from outside the US. This type of flimsy justification for alienating policies emboldens jihadist narratives that America seeks to wage a war against Muslims and stands in contrast to its own pluralistic values of individual freedoms and liberties. What is truly worrisome, is the way the report and Administration casually ignores the increasing threat from domestic right-wing actors, which in recent years has surpassed radical Islamic external actors in responsibility for American deaths in America.
Don’t forget, prior to 9/11, the most horrific terror attack in US history was the Oklahoma City Bombing, carried out by an American citizen — Timothy McVeigh.