1. Create Chaos: Trump’s executive order implementing ‘extreme vetting’ for people traveling to the U.S. was not vetted by any U.S. government agency — not the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, nor the National Security Council (NSC). The agencies responsible for carrying out Trump’s travel ban — Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services — were briefed on the order only as Trump was signing the final text.
So the public, U.S. government agencies, the media, and travelers from abroad were all shocked when the order was announced because it was effective immediately. Protests at airports erupted immediately as travelers with lawful permanent residence status (called green card holders) were and remain unlawfully detained by federal authorities.
This is exactly the kind of chaos, confusion, and disorder that terrorists like Islamic State (ISIS) exploit to strike. Instead of looking out for genuinely suspicious people, U.S. agencies are busy fighting among themselves and denying travelers of their lawful rights.
If the Trump administration is genuinely worried about people coming to the U.S. being a terrorism risk, why is Saudi Arabia — where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from —excluded from the travel ban list? Perhaps because Trump has business interests there?
2. Clog the System: Because U.S. government agencies did not vet Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ order, these agencies and the legal system are clogged with legal actions and lawyers for the federal government that Trump heads cannot defend or legally justify the details of the executive order before a judge. Predictably, there have been a slew of court rulings nullifying various aspects of the Trump administration’s travel ban that targets only certain Muslim-majority countries.
The American system of government is a system of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of government but the system does not work when one branch (in this case, the executive) does not even consult with itself before issuing decisions that are supposed to be legally binding. Clogging or jamming this system deliberately by issuing decrees of dubious legality is an act of sabotage.
3. State of Fear: Unlawful detentions create fear of state authorities and the more people distrust law enforcement, the less likely they are to report criminal or other potentially criminal behavior. This is especially true of Muslims and Arabs who understandably feel targeted by this executive order.
No wonder ISIS is thrilled with the ban.
4. Disrupt Alliances: Not only were U.S. government agencies blindsided, so were U.S. allies. Iraqi lawmakers have already approved a U.S. travel ban in response which could be bad news for the thousands of Americans — soldiers, contractors, and aid workers — that are helping the Iraqi government defend itself from ISIS. British Prime Minister Theresa May returned home from her recent visit with a President Trump to a political firestorm sparked by the ban and she has already threatened to end intelligence-sharing with the U.S. if Trump brought back torture.
Fanning the flames of anti-Americanism abroad while sabotaging functional government at home is a double whammy for public safety.
If American allies stop sharing intelligence with U.S. agencies because they deem the Trump administration too crazy, irresponsible, or unstable to be trusted with sensitive information, the likelihood that Americans get killed in the kind of jihadist massacres that rocked France and Belgium goes up since their spy agencies did not properly share what they know with one another beforehand.
As Trump’s own Secretary of Defense James Mattis once deadpanned: “Nations with allies thrive; nations without allies don’t.”
5. Stir the Pot: Trump’s top policy advisors are leading members of what’s become known as the Alt-Right — namely, Steve Bannon (who used to run Breitbart) and Steve Miller (a Capitol Hill legislative aide). The Alt-Right has one talent: stirring the pot of public opinion, polarizing it and dividing it up the better to steamroll opposition. The response of the Democratic Party — now in opposition for the first time since the Bush administration — to the incredibly unpopular Alt-Right presidency’s onslaught has been meandering, discombobulated, and incoherent to put it politely.
Outcry over the travel ban has flooded traditional and social media and that has allowed the Alt-Right coup d’état at the NSC to proceed unimpeded. As bad as Trump’s travel ban is from the standpoint of national security and public safety, demoting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence off of the NSC’s Principals Committee and elevating Bannon on it is worse. It means every major national security and defense policy decision the Trump administration makes will have the fingerprints of an Alt-Right fanatic and Bannon is the one who reportedly overruled the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination to exclude green card holders in the travel ban. But unlike the travel ban, there is no inter-agency, judicial, or legislative check to stop or hinder Bannon’s inclusion on the NSC.
The NSC is where life-and-death war-and-peace decisions that affect millions of people around the globe get made — the 2003 Iraq war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Viet-Nam war, the Iran nuclear deal. Now, Pepe the Frog has a seat at that table. So if you think the travel ban is bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.