PoliticsForeign Policy


Leaked Government Document Seems To Be At Odds With Trump's Travel Ban

A leaked draft report from the Department of Homeland Security says citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indication of a terror threat.
Posted at 2:21 PM, Feb 25, 2017

The White House is looking for evidence in the legal battle to unblock its travel ban, and it's also expected to debut a revised version. But a recent report could make that more challenging.

During his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed a number of executive orders; one temporarily restricted immigration and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspended the U.S. refugee program.

The Trump administration has defended the ban as a way to keep potential terrorists out of the U.S. until another vetting system is in place.

leaked document from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis — which is under the Department of Homeland Security — says trying to find potential terrorists based on citizenship is "unlikely to be reliable."

The report identified dozens of U.S.-based individuals killed or convicted in the pursuit of terror-related activities since early 2011. Over half were U.S.-born citizens, and others were born in countries not included on the administration's seven-country travel ban.

To be clear, the three-page report, first reported by the Associated Press, isn't based on official intelligence or data; the numbers were taken from public materials. A source within the DHS told CNN the report is "an incomplete product" and isn't the department's official position.

The White House pushed back on the report's findings and noted the language that defines what's considered a terror attack.

The report only counts successful terror attacks. Those are attacks that kill at least one innocent civilian. That count doesn't include nonfatal attacks, failed attacks or attempts to support or join a terror group.

That would exclude an attack like the one at Ohio State University last year. Eleven people were injured when Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed his car into a crowd and then attacked with a knife. Artan was a Somali-born immigrant who came to the U.S. in 2014. Officials say they believe the attack might have been inspired by radical terrorist ideology.

But the Trump administration has been accused of shopping around for data to defend its travel ban, rather than molding policy based on available information.

The administration says it has plans for a new ban, set to be signed by Trump in the coming week.