Home Work

• Ahmed spent the last 26 years in a Somali camp now numbering 270,000 refugees. After years of extensive vetting, he was finally cleared to go to the United States.  He had vacated his “home” at the camp, sold his belongings, and bought “American clothes” on credit. On January 27, 2017, he was at a transmit center in Kenya preparing to fly to America when he got the news of the Executive Order.

• Haider’s wife, having helped the Americans in Iraq, was admitted to the United States three years ago with their son. Haider had gone to Sweden, where he completed the 3-year vetting process that won him permission to join his wife in Houston. He was en route when the Executive Order went into effect. When he landed at JFK, he was sequestered, interrogated, handcuffed, and told he must return not to Sweden, but to Baghdad, where he would surely be killed.

• A lawyer with the International Refugee Assistance Project tried to get answers from the Customs and Border Protection at JFK. Having none, they told her to call the President. “They specified that the president was Donald Trump in case we weren’t aware of that,” she said.

• “Bob” has vetted potential immigrants for many years. He takes umbrage at the term “extreme vetting,” since it implies, against all the evidence, that his efforts since 9/11 have been inadequate. “Bob” explains what the process entails and says that when the President calls for stronger vetting, “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

• The 9/ll terrorist attacks were used as the justification for the Executive Order. Susan Ginsburg, senior counsel for the 9/11 Commission Report, noted that “counterterrorism at the time was viewed as the purview of specialists. There was no government-wide strategic focus on counterterrorism.” Since then, we’ve spent billions of dollars making changes to ensure that strategic focus is in place.  “Any policy or practice that was in place at the time 9/11 happened has long been superseded.” Ginsberg said. She conceded that there is always a risk. The government is constantly modifying its security procedures and can never quit doing that.

• Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of a website on national security law called Lawfare:  “I don’t believe that the stated purpose is the real purpose of this executive order. In the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process…. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives. When do you do these things?” he asks rhetorically. “You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. This will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do…. Whatever the White House is saying this is going to do, this will not help with terrorism, but it will keep out Muslims.”

• Abdi literally won the lottery for a green card to the United States several years ago. He lives in Portland, Maine, and has used his green card in the past to visit Canada. He won’t be doing that again any time soon. “Remember, I’m a Somali. I come from Somalia, one of the countries that he [Trump] really doesn’t like. And he came to Portland, the city where I live … and talked about the Somalis as bad people …. So I’m worried.”

These snippets give you a taste of the breadth of stories and analysis in this week’s This American Life, entitled “It’s Working Out Very Nicely.” If you listen to nothing else this weekend, listen to this. Then read the Ninth Circuit’s decision denying the reinstatement of President Trump’s misbegotten travel ban. The decision is methodical, logical, and restrained – everything you would hope for from a branch of the federal government and cannot get from a tweet. At a time when “executive” and “order” simply don’t fit in the same phrase, it’s consoling to have a judiciary that is judicious.

Mary Sheehy Moe



13 Comments on "Home Work"

  1. Snippet #5 works best for me when I also look at:
    Presidential Memorandum Plan to Defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(Report due in 30 days)
    Many thanks Mary for extending your superb collection of snippets.

  2. The stupidity of this administration is staggering. Unlike far too many Montanans I believed he would do most of the things he said he would. And, by that I mean many of the people I know and respect who have, in the course of the last 18 months, have told me that I’ve been over-reacting… “Trump says things that are politically incorrect, he’s not actually going to do that…..” CONGRESS will not allow him to do that….. He really doesn’t mean it THAT way…… ” etc,. Etc. Etc. He and the scum he surrounds himself with continue to lie and spread fear, thereby dividing this country as has never been done before. The 15% or so of the “deplorables” will cheer, and the majority of the rest us will! I fear, stay silent, or prefer to remain ignorant. All of this is really nothing new: we are a country of immigrants with a certain segment of our population which has always detested immigrants. As a society, we have fought this type of thinking all along, but–one would think–by now, we would never have allowed someone like dt be elected! Immigrants are only the tip of the iceburg. This country is certainly not perfect, but this is the first time I have actually been ashamed to be an American.

  3. Ahmed was handcuffed? Makes you think that Customs and Border Protection may have had access to databases or information that fell through the existing vetting process. What is the rest of the story?

  4. Have you seen the Snowden movie yet?

  5. Thank you for this! Greatly enjoying your perspective and information.

  6. I like Snippet #1. Saved me a lot of time not reading the rest. After “26 years in a Somali camp now numbering 270,000 refugees. After years of extensive vetting, he was finally cleared to go to the United States.” After “26 years living in a camp”? So what info exactly did they use to vet him??? He didn’t belong to any radical ISIS or Islamic group? BTW, who vetted him? US or UN? LOL

  7. Mis-information…..here is the truth for the exploding heads. Shame on you Ms. Moe.

    About six hours later, after an anxious and tear-filled day for his relatives in Houston, Mr.Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi was set free and allowed to continue his travels toward a reunion with his family.


  8. Bill, all that information and more about Haider’s experience are in the This American Life episode I refer readers to. As I said, you really need to listen to it to get the breadth of perspectives, experience, and analysis that the snippets only hint at.

    • No excuse for spin and jeopardizing our citizens safety. I don’t mind all the times I had to get to an airport 3 hours early for security and everyone’s safety. No sympathy here for the extra scrutiny of persons from high risk nations.

  9. Bill, you expect that early arrival and, further, you are probably one who demanded it. Fair enough. We all did. Foreign nationals here with visas were not expecting to be treated this way. A “minor inconveience” is what the Trump Administration called this. His trip was delayed not because he was a suspect, but because his religion was. Obviously you have no sympathy. Apparently, to you all people of the Muslim faith are terrorists. Even the ones who have been vetted and given permission to be here.

Comments are closed.