State Dept. Officials Should Quit if They Disagree With Trump, White House Warns

Dibaca: 293 kali  Selasa,31 Januari 2017 | 20:45:06 WIB
State Dept. Officials Should Quit if They Disagree With Trump, White House Warns
Ket Foto : amerika

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday warned State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with President Trump’s agenda, an extraordinary effort to stamp out a wave of internal dissent against Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Career officials at the State Department are circulating a so-called dissent cable, which says that Mr. Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s doors to more than 200 million people with the intention of weeding out a handful of would-be terrorists will not make the nation safer, and might instead deepen the threat.

“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “They should either get with the program or they can go.”

It was yet another stark confrontation between the new president, who is moving swiftly to upend years of policies, and a federal bureaucracy still struggling with the jolting change of power in Washington. There is open hostility to Mr. Trump’s ideas in some pockets of the government, and deep frustration among those enforcing the visa ban that the White House announced the order without warning or consulting them.

On Monday night, Mr. Trump firedacting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates for refusing to enforce the visa ban. In her place, Mr. Trump named Dana J. Boente, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed. A spokesman said Mr. Boente had told the White House that he was willing to sign off on the executive order.

 

The reverberations extended beyond Washington. Corporate chieftains from Detroit to Silicon Valley sharply criticized the ban, saying it was inconsistent with their values. Mr. Trump also faced mounting legal challenges, as two Democratic-leaning states, Massachusetts and Washington, signaled they would attack the policy in court and a Muslim advocacy group filed a lawsuit calling it an unconstitutional religious test.

At the White House, where questions about the ban overshadowed all other issues on Monday, Mr. Spicer acknowledged the State Department’s dissent channel has long been a way for its staff to register objections over administration policies. But he displayed little patience for it.

“The president has a very clear vision,” Mr. Spicer said. “He’s been clear on it since the campaign, he’s been clear on it since taking office — that he’s going to put the country first.”

“If somebody has a problem with that agenda,” he added, “that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post.”

The visa ban has rattled other agencies, as well: the Defense Department, which says it hurts the military’s local partners in conflict zones like Iraq; the Department of Homeland Security, whose customs officers are struggling to enforce the directive; and the Justice Department, whose lawyers are charged with defending its legality.

But Mr. Spicer’s blunt warning posed an especially difficult choice for the more than 100 State Department officials who indicated they would sign the memo. They can sign a final version, which would be put on the desk of Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s designated secretary of state, on his first day in office. Or, they can choose not to identify themselves, and rely on the leak of the letter to make their point without identifying themselves.

Under State Department rules and whistle-blower laws, it is forbidden to retaliate against any employee who follows the procedures and submits a dissent memorandum. One of the signatories, in a text message, said State Department signatories were trying to figure out what to do.

The memorandum began to take shape late last week, as word of Mr. Trump’s executive order leaked out. The sponsors quickly gathered more than 100 signatures, an unusually large number, but a draft of the memo was still being refined over the weekend.

Last summer, 51 State Department officials signed one protesting President Barack Obama’s policy in Syria, which they asserted had been “overwhelmed” by the violence there. They handed the cable to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The State Department confirmed the existence of the memo on Monday, and it affirmed the right of its staff to dissent.

“This is an important process that the acting secretary, and the department as a whole, respect and value,” said a spokesman, Mark Toner.

The speed with which the memo was assembled and the number of signers underscore the degree to which the State Department has become a center of the resistance to Mr. Trump’s order. More broadly, it represents objections to his efforts to cut back on American participation in international organizations and to issue ultimatums to allies.

 

Not surprisingly, the diplomats and Civil Service officers of the State Department are among the most internationally minded in the government; they have lived around the world and devoted their careers to building alliances and promoting American values abroad.

That was reflected in parts of the draft of the dissent memo circulating in the State Department. It warned that the executive order “will increase anti-American sentiment,” and that “instead of building bridges to these societies,” it would “send the message that we consider all nationals of these countries to be an unacceptable security risk.”

Among those whose views will be changed are “current and future leaders in these societies — including those for whom this may be a tipping point toward radicalization.” It also warned of an immediate humanitarian effect on those who come “to seek medical treatment for a child with a rare heart condition, to attend a parent’s funeral.”

“We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes.

Overseas, Iraqi officials said they were surprised by the directive, which they learned about through the American news media; they had not been consulted first. Objections from Baghdad are notable since Iraq is a front-line partner in the campaign against the Islamic State.

At the Pentagon, senior officials plan to send the White House a list of Iraqi citizens who have served with American forces with the recommendation that they be exempt from the visa ban. Officials said the Iraqis who would be put on the Defense Department list already had undergone a stringent form of vetting because they had served with the United States military in combat.

“There are a number of people in Iraq who have worked for us in a partnership role, whether fighting alongside us or working as translators, often doing so at great peril to themselves,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “Those who support us there and do so at risk to themselves, we will make sure those contributions of support, those personal risks they’ve taken, are recognized in this process.”

Captain Davis said department officials were compiling names of Iraqis who had served as drivers, interpreters, linguists and in other jobs with American military personnel in Iraq over the years. He declined to say how many Iraqi citizens might be included in the list or what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s personal recommendations to Mr. Trump were on the matter.

The Pentagon list is intended to address a major criticism of Mr. Trump’s executive order: that it will stop the flow of former Iraqi interpreters and cultural advisers who have sought special visas to move to the United States for their own protection.

Sumber: TheNews York Time 

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