Donald Trump’s plan to make the nation safe by barring travelers from seven mostly Muslim nations isn’t going to “help in any significant way,” warned former CIA Director John Brennan.
Protection against terrorism requires a sophisticated strategy that looks beyond an individual’s citizenship and religion, and focuses instead on thorough vetting procedures and issues such as cyber recruitment by extremists, he explained Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
Brennan pointed to a report last week by the Department of Homeland Security revealing that residents of the countries targeted in Trump’s travel ban are “rarely implicated” in U.S terrorism. Though Trump’s initial executive order instituting the travel ban has been blocked by the courts, the president has said he plans to issue a revised ban this week much like the first one.
The DHS report “puts its finger on it by saying that citizenship is not the indicator of a potential terrorist action,” Brennan said. “The vetting process that needs to go on has to take into account multiple factors, not just countries of origin or where they may be departing from.” The blanket ban also sends a “bad message” that the crackdown is about Muslims, rather than about terrorists.
Trump’s new National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told NSA staffers earlier in the week that using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was unhelpful and could undermine U.S. security goals, according to sources, CNN reported. He said that terrorism is not part of Islamic teaching, and such language could serve to alienate Muslim allies. The phrase is repeatedly used by Trump.
The former CIA boss also waded into the controversy over Trump and his campaign team’s connections with Russia. Brennan said the only way the nation’s interests will be served is if an investigation into the issue is bipartisan. Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Cal.) earlier this week called for an “independent prosecutor,” not Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time supporter of Trump, to investigate the issue.
“It’s very important that the investigation be done in a bipartisan fashion,” said Brennan. “If it’s only one party that’s going to be leading this, it is not going to deliver the results that the American people need and deserve.”
He also branded as “verboten” the administration’s attempt to pressure the FBI to publicly refute reports about aides’ contact with Russia. Brennan, who referred to the “impropriety” of such a request, said he had never experienced anything like it working in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Trump has dismissed reports of campaign contacts as “fake news” and insisted that FBI leaks are the “real scandal.”
He attacked the FBI again in tweets Friday and resurrected the “fake news” slam on Sunday.
Brennan said any leaks of classified information are “appalling.” Other leaks, he said, could be coming from any one of a number of sources, including the intelligence community, Congress, even within the White House.
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