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Trump’s immigration ban weakens the fight against terrorism

NY Daily News   ·   Link to Article

Donald Trump’s executive order banning visitors from certain Islamic countries has rightly sparked intense outrage. Trump’s order is racist, un-American, unconstitutional, immoral and flat-out wrong.

From a pragmatic point of view, it’s also misguided and just plain stupid. While legal scholars debate the constitutionality of the policy, let’s focus for now on the practical impact to American counterterrorism efforts.

First, this policy will make it harder for U.S. intelligence and military personnel to do their jobs effectively. It is a fundamental reality, ignored by Team Trump, that Muslims play a key role in the fight against radical terrorists.

Ask any American service member who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will tell you extraordinary stories about the courage of the people there who helped them. From translators who went above and beyond their assigned duties to those brave enough to join the military or police forces, many Iraqis and Afghans risked their lives to serve alongside American personnel.

Now America’s President is telling them their sacrifice is meaningless. They risked their lives to help us, but now they can’t even take their kids to Disney World, let alone move to the U.S. to escape retribution from the terrorist groups they fought against.

For intelligence officers, this policy cripples their ability to collect reliable HUMINT, a fancy term for information provided by human sources. Human intelligence provides critical insight for analysts into what’s really going on in a given population. There is a great deal of risk for people who provide this assistance, which is why it’s incredibly difficult to develop reliable sources. With one stroke of his pen, President Trump made that difficult job nearly impossible. How can an American intelligence operative credibly offer protection to potential sources when the President has made it clear that they are not welcome in our country, regardless of what help they provide?

Second, this policy would not have stopped any of the high-profile terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11. That’s because the nations targeted by Trump have not actually supplied most of the terrorists who have inflicted harm on Americans in the United States. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Both the San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando shooters were American-born. The Boston Marathon bombers were from former Soviet republics. Trump’s ban covers none of those places.

Last, a racist order banning Muslims from entering the United States is the greatest recruitment tool that ISIS or any anti-American group will ever need. What better propaganda could our enemies have that America is fighting a war against Islam than the words of the American President proudly beating his chest that he has delivered a Muslim ban to his loyal followers?

Trump is hoping that this new policy will make him sound tough, but in reality, it weakens America’s ability to fight terrorists at home and abroad. The carnival barker is no longer just a candidate. Trump’s words are now policy, and that policy is a disaster.

Peter Kauffmann is the founder/principal of Kauffmann Public Affairs and a senior adviser to VoteVets. From 2002-2007, he served as an intelligence officer in the Navy.