Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expresses 'deep concern' over Trump's 'Muslim ban'

The former heads of the CIA and Homeland Security, as well as dozens of retired generals and high ranking officials also signed the letter 

Henry Austin
Tuesday 31 January 2017 11:43
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More than 200 US diplomats have signed a letter of dissent against Donald Trump's executive order
More than 200 US diplomats have signed a letter of dissent against Donald Trump's executive order

An ex-US Secretary of State is among scores of high ranking former American government figures and military officials that have expressed their "deep concern" with Donald Trump's controversial executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

"This Order not only jeopardises 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 a letter addressed to senior figures in the new president's administration.

"In the middle of the night, just as we were beginning our nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust, dozens of refugees onboard flights to the United States and thousands of visitors were swept up in an Order of unprecedented scope, apparently with little to no oversight or input from national security professionals."

Among the signatories are former US secretary of state, Dr Madeleine Albright, ex-CIA director Michael Hayden, Janet Napolitano, who once served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Samantha Power, the former US ambassador to the United Nations.

A number of retired generals, senior officials and high profile politicians joined their condemnation of the policy in the letter addressed John F. Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary, Thomas A.Shannon, the acting State Department secretary and Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General fired by Donald Trump for refusing to publicly questioning and refusing to defend the ban.

"Simply put, this Order will harm our national security," it said. "Partner countries in Europe and the Middle East, on whom we rely for vital counter terrorism cooperation, are already objecting to this action and distancing themselves from the United States, shredding years of effort to bring them closer to us.

"Moreover, because the Order discriminates against Muslim travellers and immigrants, it has already sent exactly the wrong message to the Muslim community here at home and all over the world: that the US government is at war with them based on their religion."

It added that Christian communities may have be endangered by handing Isis "a recruiting tool and propaganda victory that spreads their horrific message that the United States is engaged in a religious war."

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"Brave individuals" who helped US servicemen in the fight against the Islamist terror group have had their "lives have been disrupted and they may even be in greater danger if they are sent home," it said.

The "suddenness" of the order was "troubling" it said, adding that it had received little scrutiny and the governments response had been "disorganised and chaotic".

"Perhaps the most tragic irony of this episode is that it is unnecessary," it said.

Many of the signatories had worked during the September 11 terror attacks, it said, adding: "We do not need to turn America into a fortress to keep it secure."

It said: "Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has developed a rigorous system of security vetting, leveraging the full capabilities of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. This vetting is applied to travelers not once, but multiple times.

"Refugees receive even further scrutiny. In fact, successive administrations have worked to improve this vetting on a near continuous basis, through robust information sharing and data integration to identify potential terrorists. Since 9/11 not a single major terrorist attack has been perpetrated by travellers from the countries named in the Order."

The White House is yet to formally respond to the letter, but news of it has emerged as Mr Trump's press secretary clashed with a number of current diplomats who are voicing their dissent with the policy.

The officials circulated several drafts of a memo arguing that the executive order Trump signed last week will not make the US safe, runs counter to American values and will fuel anti-American sentiment around the world.

Dissent channel cables are a mechanism for American diplomats to register disagreement internally about US policies. It was established during the Vietnam War and was most recently used by diplomats to criticise the Obama administration's approach to Syria. In that case, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with signers of the cable to discuss their concerns.

Officials indicated that at least several hundred diplomats have suggested they would sign the memo but the final number of signatories will not be available until it is submitted.

But Mr Trump's press secretary dismissed the diplomats and challenged them to resign if they weren't on board with the order.

Calling them "career bureaucrats", he said: "They should either get with the program or they can go".

While he later said Mr Trump appreciates the work of public servants, Mr Spicer said they should respect the desires of the American people and the importance the new president places on protecting the country.

"If somebody has a problem with that agenda, that does call into question whether they should continue in that post or not," he said. "This is about the safety of America."

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