Donald Trump reportedly rejected an intelligence report on his “Muslim ban” because it did not corroborate his claim that it improved national security.
Compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, the report said that banning all citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries was an ineffective way of stopping terrorists coming to the US because “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.”
Mr Trump has vowed to introduce a revised version of his highly controversial ban which was blocked by the courts earlier this month. He has insisted it was a security measure not a religious ban.
But the report from his own intelligence staff, seen by The Wall Street Journal, makes this claim harder to justify.
The White House dismissed its findings as politically motivated and poorly researched.
“The intelligence community is combining resources to put together a comprehensive report using all available sources which is driven by data and intelligence and not politics", said Spokesman Michael Short.
“The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for,” a senior administration official added.
The DHS report was prepared in response to a White House request for intelligence on the terror threat posed by people coming from the seven countries affected by the ban – Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Iran.
It found that in the past six years, foreign-born US residents who were “inspired” to participate in terror acts had come from 26 different countries.
Only Iraq and Somalia are among the top ten origin countries for foreign-born individuals engaged in terrorism in the US.
There have been no successful terror attacks perpetrated by citizens of any country on the list on US soil since 9/11.
The report also found over half of the 82 people, “primarily” based in the US who had been killed while engaging in acts of terrorism or have been convicted on terror charges were born in America.
Current and former officials with direct knowledge of it told The WSJ that it was compiled on short notice but used information that analysts routinely collect to form counter-terrorism policies and was shared with other agencies.
Gillian M. Christensen, DHS’ acting press secretary, attempted to downplay the controversy saying the dispute with the White House was over quality as it was just a “commentary” based on publicly available sources.
She said: “It is clear on its face that it is an incomplete product that fails to find evidence of terrorism by simply refusing to look at all the available evidence.
“Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior intelligence officials would politicise this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate. The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics”.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies