Playing Politics with the Safety and Security of Americans is Reprehensible 1

I’d like to take the opportunity to both address the President’s Executive Order (EXECUTIVE ORDER: PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES) as it is written, to make the point of its explicit intent and purpose, as well as zero in on the disingenuousness of the mainstream media, the Democrats in Congress, and the political left’s continued disinformation and “fake news” being spewed by these entities, which I will make note of first.

Unfortunately our Democrat members of Congress and their righteous and sanctimonious political stalwarts are lying and being disingenuous. Further, those in the media are intentionally and deliberately misrepresenting the President Donald Trump’s signed Executive Order on immigration and refugee admission as a “Muslim ban” – or, more cleverly, a ban on immigration from “Muslim-majority countries.” Nothing can be further from the truth.

“Any alien coming to this country must or ought to know, that this being an independent nation, it has all the rights concerning the removal of aliens which belong by the law of nations to any other; that while he remains in the country in the character of an alien, he can claim no other privilege than such as an alien is entitled to, and consequently, whatever risk he may incur in that capacity is incurred voluntarily, with the hope that in due time by his unexceptionable conduct, he may become a citizen of the United States.” ~Justice James Iredell, 1799

As documented, the ban applies to everyone regardless of religion, race, and ethnicity from the seven specific countries. In fact, one of the first families caught at the airport when the executive order went into effect was a Christian family from Syria.

These seven nations were not chosen at random. They were all singled out as exceptional security risks in the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015, which was signed by President Barack Obama, along with its 2016 addendum and extension.

Note to those in opposition; It is important to note that in 2011, President Barack Obama issued a six month ban on Iraqi refugees entering the U.S.,” he said. “There was no outrage from the liberal media then.

In fact, President Trump’s order does not even name the seven countries. It merely refers to the sections of the U.S. Code that were changed by the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 and states:

I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.

A different section of the Executive Order does refer to Syria specifically, because it calls for the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugee admissions in to the United States, until such time as the President (Trump) believes the security concerns have been adequately addressed and validated (as first mentioned in a campaign statement). As a result, regardless of country, this Executive Order reflects the foresight and premise of his original intentions, which is a pause in granting visas to select countries (as documented) until we can assure ourselves and certify that there are valid, certifiable and errorless vetting processes and practices in effect. This is about protecting our citizens and being accountable for their safety and security. To play politics with the safety and security of American lives is both reprehensible and despicable.

To that end, the list of seven nations affected by Trump’s executive order was, therefore, compiled by President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, in a series of judgments that actually goes back to President Obama’s first term, circa 2011. Then President Obama made this list, not President Donald Trump, and there was very little resistance from congressional Democrats at any step in the process of arriving at the final list of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Nor should there have been congressional resistance, because that list is eminently sensible. Several of these countries are disasters because of Obama foreign policy, while others were security nightmares long before he took office. Here is a review of current conditions in each of the nations of concern:

Iraq: As is well known, Iraq is currently fighting the Islamic State for control of Mosul and other captured territories. This is creating a flow of both retreating ISIS fighters and refugees from contested areas.

Unfortunately the media, in this case ABC News, expressed concern that while some Iraqi soldiers fighting in Mosul “feel a little bad” about President Trump’s Executive Order, as ‘one’ of them noted, others understand his reasoning. “We don’t want our doctors and professors to keep going to another country and make it greater than our own,” said one Iraqi soldier, who punctuated his comment by exclaiming, “Honestly, I love Trump!”

The United Kingdom’s newspaper the Guardian reported this past Sunday that human rights groups are processing complaints about the outright torture of children suspected of connections to the Islamic State, which in turn has an extensive program for radicalizing children and turning them into brainwashed Jihadi killers. As is the case, many Iraqi refugees have been mistreated by local forces, which could easily make them targets for and subjected to methods of radicalization.

Iraq’s Shiite militia groups, which are explicitly backed by Iran, most of which had the mission of attacking and murdering U.S. soldiers during our involvement in Iraq, remain heavily involved in the fighting. There are concerns these emboldened, battle-tested, heavily armed militias will move into Syria and cause a new sectarian crisis. These groups are units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, their mission would become shock troops for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad as he finishes off the last remaining elements of the rebellion against him.

The Iraqi government, it must be said, does not have the most sterling record for honesty and efficiency. Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption and publisher of an annual corruption ranking and index of countries, recently rated Iraq’s government as one of the most corrupt in the entire world. The Iraqi parliament reflexively responded to Trump’s executive order with an ill-considered “reciprocity ban” that will do significant damage to the Iraqi nation if enacted, at the very moment it is fighting a desperate battle to drive out ISIS. That is not the kind of government that can be readily trusted to provide the data needed for “enhanced vetting.”  So in that case, Iraq is on the list, as are the following six others.

Iran: Contrary to the fictions peddled by the Obama Administration, Iran is still very much an enemy of the United States. Its government is actively involved in subversive efforts across the Middle East, and around the world.

Even in the last months of the Obama administration, long after Obama’s huge economic concessions and cash payments to Tehran, the State Department continues to classify Iran as the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. The State Department remains concerned about “a wide range of Iranian activities to destabilize the region.”

The Iranians are still taking hostages, including U.S. citizens. They put their hostages through fake “legal proceedings” involving secret courts and lawyers who are not always permitted to speak with their clients or lawyer loyal to the regime. They hold and hide their hostages in hideous and notorious prisons that would pass inspection in no civilized country.

On Sunday, Iran continued its defiance of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with yet another secret test of a banned ballistic missile. While near simultaneously Iranian-backed Houthi rebel suicide attackers (trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) believed a U.S.-made Saudi Navy frigate was actually a U.S. Navy ship and rammed it with a small boat packed with explosives – a near identical repetition of the USS Cole attack, which also took place in Yemen in October 2000.

Syria: It is astonishing that anyone thinks that “vetting” is possible for most of the refugees from war-torn Syria, whose sinister central government still does not control many parts of the country.

ISIS — of course, is headquartered in Raqqa, Syria, and al-Qaeda is one of the strongest asymmetric military forces in the rebellion, as well. Syrian resistance groups are so difficult to screen that the Obama administration could only find a few handfuls of reliable “moderate” fighters to arm and train – many in the end were promptly kidnapped, killed, or co-opted by terrorist groups to include ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliate after Obama funded, armed and deployed them. Obama’s  so-called “white hat rebel” or John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s “moderate rebels” of the “Free Syrian Army” program ended as a laughingstock across the Middle East.

Nevertheless, as of today, radical Islamist terrorist groups continue hunting down and destroying “moderate and opposition” rebel units, even during the “ceasefire” brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Worse, Syria has become a pressure-cooker for radical jihad, with those groups once regarded as again moderate becoming unmistakably more radicalized, particularly over the past five years.

ISIS militants fleeing the battlefields of Iraq have been falling back into Syria, while Syrian ISIS fighters have been fleeing from their own battlefield reversals. The return of Islamic State militants, and other battle-hardened jihadis, from Syria to Western nations has long been seen as a major security concern. In fact, ISIS’ strategic position is to use its own radically inspired jihadists, to usurp western sponsored refugee programs to infiltrate into Europe and subsequently the U.S.

The Syrian civil war is universally regarded as one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. Every party to the conflict has been blamed for causing civilian casualties, while some of them deliberately target civilians. The Assad regime has used indiscriminate conventional weapons, and weapons of mass destruction to include chemical agents against rebel-held districts. Civilians have been deprived of food, power, sanitation, and medicine in besieged areas for months, sometimes for years. ISIS and al-Qaeda understand the vulnerabilities of these populations and the huge population crisis that is susceptible to radicalization by terrorists who blame Western powers for either inflicting horror upon civilians, or failing to prevent it. Again, part of their long term strategy has been to influence and inspire their radicalization to be part of their effort to lace western populations with radical jihadists. This in turn has played as we have seen in France, Belgium, Germany, and other western countries.

Libya: Due to the U.S. media’s poor and failed reporting on the continuing disaster of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s illogical and disastrous war in Libya, most Americans probably do not realize Libya still lacks a functioning central government. The brief spate of coverage after the rise of Libyan ISIS ended with reports that a “Government of National Accord” had been installed, but in truth it only controls a small portion of the country, and most observers believe it is again on the verge of collapse. A Qaddafi-era general by the name of Khalifa Haftar is working to seize power, and the Russians have been cozying up to him. The end state of Obama’s policy in Libya could very well be yet another Russian client state in the Middle East.

Haftar currently controls the government that used to be recognized by the international community as Libya’s legitimate administration. That government was chased out of the nation’s capital, Tripoli, by a coalition of Islamist militias, widely known as Libya Dawn. That group still remains a force to be reckoned with, and constitutes the third major Libyan government, since Qaddafi’s demise in 2011, thanks to Hillary Clinton corrupt and deliberately misguided foreign policy maneuvers.

That said, ISIS remains still a serious and growing problem in Libya and across North Africa, as demonstrated by U.S. air raids against Islamic State positions on President Obama’s second to last day in office, one of the former President’s last acts as military commander-in-chief. “They have been largely marginalized but I am hesitant to say they’ve been completely eliminated in Libya,” said an Obama U.S. defense official after the fact.

The strike was captured in graphic video, and when the bodies were counted the initial estimate of 85 killed was revised upward. The missiles took out a remnant of an ISIS force that once controlled much of central and eastern Libya — and that the U.S. had feared would establish a second Caliphate like the one in Syria and Iraq. Does that mean the Obama administration achieved its goal of saving Libya from ISIS, and preventing the creation of a new safe-haven for ISIS jihadis driven from their shrinking kingdom in Syria? Far from it, and in fact, more susceptible than ever before. Unfortunately, it now has become President Trump’s responsibility to clean-up Obama’s mess. And a big mess it is.

Somalia: Somalia has been fighting a vicious insurgency from an Islamist terror organization called al-Shabaab, whose name means “The Youth.” It aggressively recruits young Muslims, specifically including young Somalis living in the United States.

The group has links to both al-Qaeda and ISIS. The primary leadership and long-time al-Qaeda affiliate decided not to swear allegiance or loyalty to the Islamic State, i.e. ISIS, leading to something of a schism between different factions of al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab is not just a gang of furtive terrorists lurking in the shadows – it effectively controls large portions of rural Somalia, and has been waging war against neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. An attack launched just this past weekend killed dozens of Kenyan troops, according to al-Shabaab claims, though disputed by the Kenyan government.

Al-Shabaab is and has been one of the most savage Islamist terror organizations in the world, responsible for horrific massacres like the slaughter of 150 students at Garissa University College in April 2015, and 67 murdered at the Westgate Mall shopping center in the Kenyan capital. Likewise, a brutal attack on the al-Dayah hotel in Mogadishu killed eight and wounded dozens of people just last week. Al-Shabaab killers are notorious for asking potential victims to prove they are devout Muslims in order to spare their lives.

Somalia’s transitional government was ranked the most corrupt in the world by the group Transparency International, in the same study that named Iraq one of the worst. That is not exactly news, because Somalia’s government has been listed as the most corrupt on Earth for ten years straight. For that matter and the sake of comparison, the countries on the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 list are included on Transparency International’s list of the world’s fifteen most corrupt countries.

Somalia’s most recent elections were an absurd carnival of bribes, voter fraud, and voter intimidation even with UN oversight. Of course, UN oversight of any election is much to be desired, in the light that it is equally corrupt of the foreign governments and political entities it tends to oversee in foreign national elections. Those of us who have worked and monitored the Somalia problem for decades know very well the lawless nation has not had a functional national government since the ousting of its former leader Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Sudan: As mentioned above, the Sudanese government is a corrupt disaster. The country actually split in half in 2011. Over 1.5 million people have been killed in the Sudanese civil war, while 2 million refugees have been displaced from the Darfur region.

The president of the Republic of Sudan is an iron-fisted Islamist dictator by the name of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been in power for over 25 years, after seizing power in a 1989 coup that came after two decades of civil war.

Bashir is wanted for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Those charges have been pending since 2009. There are actually three counts of genocide against him. He is supposedly under an international travel ban, but he travels anyway, occasionally cutting his trips short when he thinks he might be arrested.

The Sudanese government imposed Sharia Law through the countries provinces in the Nineties. Bashir oversees and is linked to the Janjaweed militias, which serve as his own personal storm troopers, noted for their scorched-earth tactics and indiscriminate use of mass-casualty weapons against civilians. Some observers fear the Janjaweed will eventually ship Bashir’s leash and overthrow the government in Khartoum.

Sudan is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism and, until recently, it was politically aligned with Iran until politics and ideology cause the two nations to distance themselves. Sudan has proven to be friendly terrain for all sorts of radical groups and terrorists, although its political realignment over the past few years reportedly included more cooperation on counter-terrorism, perhaps in a bid with the help of the Obama administration to get off the American list of terrorist sponsors. Even after that realignment, Hamas terrorists continue to have little trouble traveling through Sudan, conducting training, and raising money there.

Yemen: Yemen is a horrifying bloodbath of both civil war and a terrorist-insurgent based insurrection, which ties many of the other nations on this list together. Sudan, for example, has been part of Saudi Arabia’s coalition in Yemen, ever since it turned away from Iranian patronage, as previously mentioned.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting a proxy war in Yemen, where there have been over 10,000 civilian casualties. The U.S. has been providing weapons to Saudi Arabia, whose coalition is blamed for many of the civilian deaths. The U.S. previously supported former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh who was a supporter of the U.S. regional counter terror effort, until his ouster in the Arab Spring uprisings three years ago. Now, in retaliation to the Obama administration’s support of the Arab Spring movement and with Yemen embroiled in renewed conflict, the 73-year-old former autocrat is again a central player in Middle East chaos. He has helped a Houthi Shiite rebel movement backed by Iran, once a bitter enemy, seize the capital and push aside a rival politician backed by Saudi Arabia.

In October, the U.S. Navy was obliged to strike ground targets in Yemen, after missiles were fired at American ships stationed off the coast. On Sunday, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed, and three others wounded, in a firefight with al-Qaeda forces in central Yemen. Fourteen al-Qaeda fighters were reportedly killed, including the brother-in-law of the late al-Qaeda guru, Anwar al-Awlaki. It was the first counterterrorism operation authorized by President Trump.

Describing the state of Yemeni government as “chaotic” would be a vast understatement. In addition to Iranian and Saudi Arabia and U.S. involvement in the internal civil war, major cities like Sana’a have been subjected to violent takeovers and sieges, while the Yemeni wilderness region is largely controlled by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula forces.

So Yemeni resentment of the United States and the Iranian back Houthi’s control of the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, this a very real factor to consider when estimating the dangers of radicalization.

The predictable media-driven hysteria around President Trump’s executive order devoted to restricting entry of Islamic terrorists to our homeland arises from a dangerous fundamental denial of reality.

Again, we must remember that immigration is but one area in which war is being waged.  However, one single consideration must be remembered: That there is no fundamental right for any and or all peoples of the world to enter American soil.

That immigration policy like all policy must necessarily be geared towards America’s national interest — which includes putting the interests of American citizens first.

In this context, when one reads the plain English of President Trump’s executive order, it appears eminently reasonable and prudent, as one step in what must be a comprehensive counter-jihad policy geared towards keeping new enemies out and defeating the enemies already within.

Consider the nature of the substance of the executive order:

It is limited in both to the set of nations to which the visa restrictions apply — all seven of which were identified in previous Obama administration immigration policy as posing threats, and all of which are failed and/or jihadist-laden states — in large part overrun by ISIS and other jihadist forces.

It is consistent with American values and the law in calling for prioritizing of those who are granted authority for entering the U.S. in accordance with current immigration policy.

It is threat doctrine-based, ensuring that ideology — the basis of the jihadist threat is a priority for review and is paramount for a forthcoming valid vetting process.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

For those on the Left with a newfound appreciation for constitutional limits to federal power, the executive order is fully legal. The Left, and its communications arm in the mainstream media, seeks to highlight the burdens born by those affected by the policy in order to score political points.

While at the same time, they ignore President Trump’s and indeed America’s forgotten citizens: namely, victims of radical Islamic jihad. This includes those maimed and murdered by jihadists, and their families. It also includes those who live in communities where refugees are resettled without any say in the matter or confidence that such refugees wish to assimilate or share the same values and principles. One wonders if the media narrative might be different if media outlets interviewed families of 9/11 victims, the victims of any of the numerous jihadist attacks on American soil over the last several years from Boston to San Bernardino to Orlando. Should our immigration policy not show compassion for these Americans first, as are founding fathers intended?

We as a nation are less than two weeks into a minimum four-year ideological and tribal war fought over Donald Trump’s more rationale and conservative approach to dangers of world and reality. Given the intensity of the polarization and the mindlessness of much of the rhetoric, and false narrative spewed by the all entities of the political left, the Congressional Democrats and their party, and the mainstream media — it’s clear that Americans are going to have to fight to find the truth. And the truth in this case is that Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration is far less consequential than either side seems to believe. All the really hard work is still yet to come.

Jim Waurishuk is a retired USAF Colonel, serving nearly 30-years as a career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer and special mission intelligence officer with expertise in strategic intelligence, international strategic studies and policy, and asymmetric warfare. He served combat and combat-support tours in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as on numerous special operations and special mission intelligence contingencies in Central America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He served as a special mission intelligence officer assigned to multiple Joint Special Operations units, and with the CIA’s Asymmetric Warfare Task Force, as well as in international and foreign advisory positions. He served as Deputy Director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) during the peak years of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism. He is a former White House National Security Council staffer and a former Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. He served as a senior advisor to the Commander U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is Vice President of the Special Ops-OPSEC -- which provides strategic and operational security analysis and assessments to governmental and private entities, as well as media organizations on national security issues, policy, and processes. He currently provides advisory and consulting services on national security, international strategic policy, and strategy assessments for the U.S. and foreign private sector and governments entities, media groups and outlets, and to political groups, forums, and political candidates. He is an author and writer providing regular commentary and opinion to national and local TV, radio networks, and for both print and online publications, as well as speaking engagements to business, political, civic and private groups on national security matters – focusing on international strategic policy and engagement, and strategic intelligence, and subject matter expertise on special mission intelligence and operations, counter-terrorism, and asymmetric warfare and conflict.