Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TOP STORY >> Rep. Hill is critical of policy

Leader executive editor

Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) is the first Arkansas congressman to criticize the way the indefinite travel ban from Syria and a 120-day ban from six other Moslem countries were implemented last weekend, creating a constitutional show-down in the federal courts that could go on for several months.

Moslems with permanent residency green cards were among those stopped from coming back to the U.S., along with students and academics and brave Iraqis who worked for our military there.

“Blocking U.S. green cardholders, students and professors possessing proper visas, and those extraordinary men and women who have aided us in our Global War on Terror is not acceptable,” Hill said Monday.

We cannot abandon those Iraqi interpreters who worked for the U.S. in Iraq and the brave Afghan officers who helped defeat the Taliban. Those who risked their lives for us deserve our gratitude. If we betray them now, why should foreigners help us in our next war?

Thank you, Rep. Hill, for speaking against this poorly thought out executive order. Other Republicans are breaking ranks with the Trump administration, including Sen. John McCain and Sen. John Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of North Dakota, Corey Gardner of Colorado and members of Congress who represent districts with large immigrant populations.

Congress was never consulted before the White House issued the executive order. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the attorney general nominee, was also largely left out of the loop, as were Homeland Security and the intelligence agencies, not to mention legal scholars who could have helped with a more coherent directive.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, the head of Homeland Security, found out about the travel ban as he was flying back to Washington on Friday.

Back in his office studying the new directive, Gen. Kelly’s staff pointed to a television set as President Trump signed his executive order banning travelers with valid visas and even green cards granted to permanent legal U.S. residents three years before they become eligible for citizenship.

Kelly quickly rescinded the order that included green card holders, saying, “I thereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.”

As Ron Ziegler, Richard Nix-on’s press secretary, would say, all previous statements to the contrary are now inoperative.

The ban on visa holders remains on hold as the case makes its way through the federal courts and almost certainly to the Supreme Court while the administration regroups with a new team at the Justice Department after the dismissal of acting Attorney General Sally Yates (a deadringer for the late Mary Tyler Moore), who refused to defend the executive order on constitutional grounds.

The travel ban does not include our friends the Saudis (where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from), Egyptians (one 9/11 hijacker) and Pakistanis (one of the San Bernardino attackers was born there), or Putin’s Chechnya (the Boston Marathon bombers were born there). Trump may have discussed the travel ban when he called Putin on Saturday, when they agreed to join forces in the war against ISIS.

Sharing military intelligence with Putin, a former KGB chief, is a terrible idea, and so is dropping of the joint chiefs chairman and the director of national intelligence from the National Security Council as permanent members, replacing them with amateurs like White House aides Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus. Their presence gives Putin an advantage because of his ties to Bannon and national security adviser Michael Flynn, the retired general who’s pushing for an alliance with Putin in the war against ISIS.

Edward Snowden, the Russian spy who defected to Moscow, has passed on plenty of damaging information about the U.S. to Putin. We don’t need to give him more.

Putin, who plagiarized the thesis he supposedly wrote for his law degree, is hoping the U.S. will drop sanctions against Russia after invading Crimea. He wants NATO weakened so he can conquer more territories in Ukraine, where there’s renewed fighting between government forces and rebels loyal to Russia.

“They lie. They cheat. They want to conquer the world,” President Ronald Reagan said at his first White House press conference in 1981. Don’t let Putin and the terrorists win this battle.

President Reagan knew the Russians cheated on arms control agreements, doped their Olympic athletes for decades and lied about stealing our atomic secrets and technology. People have short memories.

Let’s not end sanctions against the man who worked for Andrei Andropov, his KBG boss and former leader of the U.S.S.R., who called the Red Army into Budapest in 1956 when he was Russian ambassador and suppressed uprisings against other nations in the former Soviet empire.

Putin wants Russia recognized as a superpower. The new administration shouldn’t help him achieve that dream.