DHS draft report disputes threat from banned nations
Vivian Salama, Alica Caldwell, AP, Feb 24 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN — A draft document prepared by analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to Pindostan and that few people from the seven countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in Pindostan in the last 5 years. Trump cited terrorism concerns as the primary reason he signed the travel ban in late January. The administration has been working on a new version that could withstand legal challenges. Trump said Friday a new version would be announced soon. Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report’s authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government’s intelligence. She said:
While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you’re referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing. The report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete.
The draft report is based on unclassified information from DoJ press releases, State Dept visa statistics, the Worldwide Threat Assessment from the ODNI, and the State Dept Country Reports on Terrorism. The seven countries were included in a law that Obama signed in 2015 that updated visa requirements for foreigners who had traveled to those countries. Christensen said the countries were also selected in part because they lacked the ability to properly vet their citizens and don’t cooperate with efforts to screen people hoping to come to Pindostan. The report was drafted by staff of the Homeland Security Department’s Intelligence and Analysis branch. White House spox Michael Short said:
This isn’t the full report that Pres Trump has requested. I believe the intel community is combining resources to put together a comprehensive report using all available sources, not just open sources, and which is driven by data, not politics.
The draft document was circulated beyond Homeland Security. It reflects the tensions between the president’s political appointees and the civil servants tasked with carrying out his agenda. Trump has repeatedly complained about leaks meant to undercut his policies and suggested he does not trust holdovers from the Obama administration. Trump’s ban temporarily barred citizens from the seven countries from coming to Pindostan for three months, shut down the refugee program for four months, and indefinitely banned anyone from Syria. A senior admin boxtop told AP on Sunday that a draft of the revised order will target those same seven countries. In a speech to CPAC on Friday, Trump said he singled out the seven countries because they had already been deemed a security concern by the Obama administration, and vowed:
We are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country!