Diplo­mats defy White House, crit­i­cize travel ban

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Hun­dreds of Amer­i­can diplo­mats de­fied a White House warn­ing on Tues­day, send­ing a memo to the State De­part­ment’s lead­er­ship that crit­i­cizes Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tem­po­rary travel ban on cit­i­zens from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries. It is be­lieved to be one of the most pop­u­larly sup­ported state­ments of dis­sent in the de­part­ment’s his­tory.

A State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said the ca­ble was re­ceived just a day af­ter White House spokesman Sean Spicer sug­gested those dis­agree­ing with Trump’s new pol­icy should re­sign. The of­fi­cial did not have an ex­act num­ber of sig­na­to­ries, but said more than 800 in­di­cated they would sign af­ter drafts of the ca­ble cir­cu­lated over the week­end. The of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly and de­manded anonymity.

The doc­u­ment ar­gues that the ex­ec­u­tive or­der Trump signed last week runs counter to Amer­i­can val­ues and will fuel anti-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment around the world.

“A pol­icy which closes our doors to over 200 mil­lion le­git­i­mate trav­ellers in the hopes of pre­vent­ing a small num­ber of trav­ellers who in­tend to harm Amer­i­cans from us­ing the visa sys­tem to en­ter the United States will not achieve its aim of mak­ing our coun­try safer,” the diplo­mats wrote in the so-called “dis­sent ca­ble.”

“This ban stands in op­po­si­tion to the core Amer­i­can and con­sti­tu­tional val­ues that we, as fed­eral em­ploy­ees, took an oath to up­hold,” a draft of the ca­ble said. The fi­nal ver­sion wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Dis­sent chan­nel ca­bles are a mech­a­nism for U.S. diplo­mats to reg­is­ter dis­agree­ment in­ter­nally about U.S. poli­cies. It was es­tab­lished dur­ing the Viet­nam War and was most re­cently used by diplo­mats to crit­i­cize the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to Syria. In that case, former Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry met with sign­ers of the ca­ble to dis­cuss their con­cerns.

Trump’s sec­re­tary of state nom­i­nee Rex Tiller­son is still await­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion and it was un­clear how we would re­spond to the memo.

In re­sponse to re­ports of the ca­ble Mon­day, Spicer said of the diplo­mats: “They should ei­ther get with the pro­gram or they can go.”

He dis­missed the crit­i­cism from what he called “ca­reer bu­reau­crats.” While he later said Trump ap­pre­ci­ates the work of pub­lic ser­vants, Spicer said they should re­spect the de­sires of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and the im­por­tance Trump places on pro­tect­ing the coun­try.

“If some­body has a prob­lem with that agenda, that does call into ques­tion whether they should con­tinue in that post or not,” Spicer said. “This is about the safety of Amer­ica.”

Sign­ers of dis­sent ca­bles are sup­posed to be pro­tected from ret­ri­bu­tion from su­pe­ri­ors.


U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, ac­com­pa­nied by Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly speaks in the Roo­sevelt Room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, Tues­day.

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