Donald Trump just politicized the National Security Council.
Sometime in the late afternoon hours of Saturday, Trump signed a memorandum that reorganized the National Security Council. Part of what that memorandum did was to add former Breitbart chairman/current senior counselor, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus, chief of staff to the NSC principals committee.
The order also said the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff would no longer be automatic principals on the committee. Trump said the reorganization is meant to streamline the NSC. He said it would bring “a lot of efficiency and, I think, a lot of additional safety,” The Washington Post reported.
“People have talked about doing this for a long time. Like, many years.” The memorandum read that “security threats facing the United States in the 21st century transcend international boundaries. Accordingly, the United States Government’s decision-making structures and processes to address these challenges must remain equally adaptive and transformative.”
Absolutely. And who needs a lot of military gurus jabbering on about national security? I’m sure Bannon and Priebus will have a better take.
They’ve already shown their expertise, as a matter of fact.
As chaos broke out at airports across the country on Saturday, a result of Trump’s newly signed directive to halt incoming immigrants from specific Muslim-populated countries, people began to wonder who was in charge.
At JFK, in New York, several green card-holding immigrants and employees of the U.S. were denied entry, as authorities tried to determine how best to handle them.
They were eventually cleared to go to their families, but protests still broke out, as thousands crowded into JFK, Terminal #4, chanting, “Let them in! Let them in!”
Could all the chaos have been avoided?
A report from CNN seems to suggest that Trump’s White House took unusual measures to get the order passed.
Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.
The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Their decision held that, on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.
I’m of the belief that if you’ve got a green card, you’ve been vetted, already.
With all that, the guidelines sent to airports on Friday night apparently directed them to allow green card holders to board their flights back to the U.S., saying they were not included in the ban. At most, according to Customs and Security, they may have to endure extra scrutiny upon arrival, but were not banned from entry.
Before the President issued the order, the White House did not seek the legal guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that interprets the law for the executive branch. A source said the executive order did not follow the standard agency review process that’s typically overseen by the National Security Council, though the source couldn’t specifically say if that included the decision to not have the order go through the Office of Legal Counsel.
I’d say if you’re going to undergo a venture this sensitive, you seek legal counsel from those familiar with the process, in order to keep things from happening, like, say, federal judges blocking your actions.
I know. I’m such a stickler for the fine details.
Separately, a person familiar with the matter said career officials in charge of enforcing the executive order were not fully briefed on the specifics until Friday. The officials were caught off guard by some of the specifics and raised questions about how to handle the new banned passengers on US-bound planes.
Regarding the green card holders and some of the confusion about whether they were impacted, the person familiar with the matter said if career officials had known more about the executive order earlier, some of the confusion could have been avoided and a better plan could be in place.
So what was the role of career officials in setting up the policy?
Bannon and Miller were running point on this order and giving directives regarding green cards, according to a Republican close to the White House.
For now, some of the key points of Trump’s executive order on halting further immigration from Muslim countries have been blocked by a federal judge’s order.
Trump’s rush to fulfill a campaign promise before the first week was over set up this confusion. His desire to only hear from those who agree with him and stroke his ego (for their own advancement) will likely lead him astray, again.
It’s time to get people involved that can give him experienced guidance. Let the “Yes men” go, for awhile.