The commander in chief is taking heat—and hearing cheers—for a raid in Yemen that killed a SEAL. But for the next mission, Trump may take himself out of the loop altogether.
The White House is considering delegating more authority to the Pentagon to greenlight anti-terrorist operations like the SEAL Team 6 raid in Yemen that cost the life of a Navy SEAL, multiple U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast. It’s part of an effort to step up the war on the so-called Islamic State.
President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants his defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, to have a freer hand to launch time-sensitive missions quickly, ending what U.S. officials say could be a long approval process under President Barack Obama that critics claimed stalled some missions by hours or days.
In declared war zones, U.S. commanders have the authority to make such calls, but outside such war zones, in ungoverned or unstable places like Somalia, Libya, or Yemen, it can take permissions all the way up to the Oval Office to launch a drone strike or a special-operations team.
Trump’s subsequent defense of the Yemen raid, and discussion of accelerating other counterterrorist operations, shows his White House will be less risk averse to the possibility of U.S.—or civilian—casualties, unlike the Obama White House, which military officials say was extremely cautious to the point of frustrating some military commanders and counterterrorist operators.
Yet that added authority might give Mattis and senior military officers pause, after Trump blamed military leaders Tuesday for the loss of Navy Seal Senior Chief Petty Officer William”Ryan” Owens during the fraught Jan. 28th raid against al Qaeda in Yemen, instead of accepting responsibility for the raid’s outcome as commander in chief.
“This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News interview. “They explained what they wanted to do—the generals—who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.”
Owens’s father told Miami Herald he believes the raid was rushed and unnecessary, and refused to meet Trump at Dover Air Force Base when his son was returned home.
“I can understand people saying that. I’d feel—What’s worse? There’s nothing worse,” Trump said of the father’s reaction. “This was something that they were looking at for a long time… and according to Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”
In Trump’s first address to Congress, he saluted Owens’s widow, Carryn, who was there as a guest. Tears streamed down her face as the president hailed the fallen Navy SEAL as “a warrior, and a hero.”
He added that he’d just “reconfirmed” with Mattis that the raid was “highly successful” and “generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” The amount of information gathered is still a matter of debate, however, NBC News reported Monday that after a month of examining what was captured on the scene, the raid has yielded little intelligence. The White House subsequently disputed that report.
“Missions of this type provide insights into AQAP’s disposition, capability, and intentions—information we otherwise do not have access to,” said Central Command spokesman Maj. Josh T. Jacques on Wednesday.
Despite the controversy, Trump has signaled that he wants to operate more like the CEO he was in the private sector in such matters, and delegate even more power to Mattis, which may mean rewriting one of President Barack Obama’s classified Presidential Policy Directives on potentially lethal operations in countries where the U.S. is not officially involved in combat.
The National Security Council spokesman was not immediately able to comment.
Former Obama administration officials tell The Daily Beast they’d already streamlined the approvals process for counterterrorism raids, following the failed 2014 mission to rescue U.S. hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller, who were being held by ISIS in Syria. The hostages were moved shortly before U.S. special operators arrived on the scene.
“Obama gave a lot of leash to commanders in the field—but not on everything,” said one former senior Obama administration official. “It’s all about controlling escalation. Do I want to give someone else the authority to get me deeper into a war?”
The official explained that in some cases, Obama deemed it necessary to push authority down to his commanders, as when he gave the Navy SEALs the green light to shoot their way out of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, though firing on Pakistani troops might have triggered armed conflict with Islamabad.
Obama used to give Mattis pre-delegation authority to act when he was head of Central Command on some issues, but not others, the official said. “Will you delegate authority if an Iranian boat gets close, I can take it out? Most presidents will think carefully about that,” he said. “There’s usually a healthy back-and-forth to come up with the right balance.” The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive discussions on approving raids.
Trump officials believe loosening the permissions process can help turn up the heat against ISIS—and counterterrorist-focused agencies like the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are lining up new targets in anticipation of more numerous and more rapid approvals.
One model being considered is pre-delegating authority to Mattis on extremely sensitive operations like hostage rescues; for raids or drone strikes against pre-approved targets, that authority could be pushed much further down the chain of command—all the way down to the three-star general who runs JSOC. If his teams spot a target that’s already on the White House approved high-value target list, the elite force will be able to move into action, informing the national-security apparatus of the operation but not having to wait for permission.
Word of discussions about loosening permissions to strike comes despite criticism that the Jan. 28 raid in central Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was approved so quickly that it was launched without proper planning, and botched when al Qaeda fighters heard the SEALs approaching, kicking off a deadly firefight.
SEAL Owens was killed and six U.S. troops were wounded during the fighting, and the “hard landing” of the would-be medical-evacuation aircraft.
Owens’s father wants the decision process investigated. There are already three Pentagon investigations underway, according to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis: the pro-forma investigation into the combat death; another into the loss of an Osprey rescue helicopter that was so damaged that it had to be left behind and destroyed; and another investigation into the allegations of civilian casualties from the raid.
Yemeni officials reported several women and children were killed. That included the 8-year-old daughter of former AQAP cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to the girl’s grandfather in comments to the AP.(Former AOAP cleric Awlaki, a U.S citizen, helped inspire followers with his online sermons until he was killed by a U.S drone strike in 2011.)
The Yemeni government reacted to the raid with a statement, reiterating “its firm position that any counterterrorism operations carried out in Yemen should continue to be in consultation” with Yemen’s civil-war-embattled government, and include “precautionary measures to prevent civilian casualties.”
Special Operations Commander Gen. Tony Thomas pushed back on the notion that the raid was poorly or hastily planned. He told reporters in Washington, D.C., recently that the raid preparation was “absolutely not” rushed or in any way disorganized.
And the SEAL raiders never lost the element of surprise, two U.S. officials said. But the raiders “didn’t expect the whole town to come out armed and fighting,” said one. Pentagon spokesman Davis said women fighters came out firing from several locations as the SEAL team hit its target, contributing to casualties on both sides.
One U.S. official told The Daily Beast that the raid garnered possibly “the most intelligence ever netted” on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including information that will help U.S. intelligence map the network of AQAP followers and how they operate. Central Command stumbled when trying to prove that, however, by releasing an al Qaeda training video captured by the SEAL task force during the raid—but didn’t realize it had been disseminated by AQAP nine years earlier.
This story was updated to add comment from Central Command.
Source : The Daily Beast
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:
Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.
That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am heretonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.
A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.
A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.
And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.
What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.
Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.
All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.
In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.
It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.
But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?
I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.
For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.
We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.
We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.
And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.
Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.
But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.
Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.
Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.
Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.
Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.
And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.
Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.
It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.
Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.
The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.
We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.
We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.
We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.
We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.
With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.
To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.
I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.
We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.
At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.
For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.
As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.
To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?
Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.
According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.
We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.
It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.
We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.
That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.
As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.
I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.
Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution. I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.
Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.
Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.
Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.
More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.
We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.
In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.
We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.
And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.
Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.
But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.
Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.
My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.
We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.
Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.
I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.
At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.
They weren’t even asking for change. But I am.
I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.
The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”
Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.
I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.
Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.
Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class.
I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.
If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.
Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.
America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.
To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.
This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American.
Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.
Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.
Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.
One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.
Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?
We now know that all of those promises have been broken.
Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.
So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.
Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:
First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.
Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.
Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.
Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.
Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.
Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.
Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done? On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.
My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.
True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.
An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.
Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5.
On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.
Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.
But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.
If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.
In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.
But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.
Education is the civil rights issue of our time.
I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.
Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.
We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.
But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.
The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.
In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.
This is not acceptable in our society.
Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.
But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement.
We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division.
Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.
We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.
And we must support the victims of crime.
I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.
Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.
Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.
Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audiencetonight, has become a good friend of mine.
Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis. Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California. They were pillars of their community. These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.
Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna: I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.
To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.
Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.
I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.
My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.
Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.
The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater.
And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.
We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.
I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.
To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.
Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.
We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.
But our partners must meet their financial obligations.
And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.
We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.
We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.
Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.
We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.
The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.
America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.
We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.
Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free.
On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial. At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations.
Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.
Remington unveiled the first typewriter. An early attempt was made at electric light.
Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.
Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.
Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.
Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.
American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.
Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.
And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask.
When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans.
This is our vision. This is our mission.
But we can only get there together.
We are one people, with one destiny.
We all bleed the same blood.
We all salute the same flag.
And we are all made by the same God.
And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.
The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.
We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.
The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.
And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.
From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –-
inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –-
and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.
I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and —
Believe in yourselves.
Believe in your future.
And believe, once more, in America.
Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.
Source : The Hill
A U.S. district judge in Seattle on Friday suspended Trump’s order.
By Dan Levine and Timothy Gardner
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will face off with opponents in a federal appeals court on Tuesday over the fate of President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, his most controversial act since taking office last month.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart suspended Trump’s ban, opening a window for people from the seven affected countries to enter the country.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear arguments over whether to restore the ban from Justice Department lawyers and opposing attorneys for the states of Minnesota and Washington at 3 p.m. PST (6.00 p.m. ET).
In a tweet on Monday night, Trump said: “The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!”
Trump has said the travel measures are designed to protect the country against the threat of terrorism. He has derided Robart, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, as a “so-called judge.”
In a brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department said the suspension of Trump’s order was too broad and “at most” should be limited to people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or to those who want to leave and return to the United States.
Opponents say the 90-day ban barring entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and imposing a 120-day halt to all refugees, is illegal. The state of Washington argues it has suffered harm, saying some students and faculty at state universities had been stranded overseas because of the ban.
The Republican president’s Jan. 27 executive order sparked protests and chaos at U.S. and overseas airports in the weekend that followed.
All the people who had carried out fatal attacks inspired by Islamist militancy in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had been U.S. citizens or legal residents, the New America think tank said. None came to the United States or were from a family that emigrated from one of the countries listed in the travel ban, it said. ()
Trump faces an uphill battle in the liberal-leaning San Francisco court. Two members of three-judge panel that will hear the arguments were appointed by former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by Bush.
Appeals courts are generally leery of upending the status quo, which in this case is the lowercourt’s suspension of the ban.
Opponents of the ban received far more filings in support of their position than the Department of Justice. Washington state’s challenge was backed by about a dozen friends-of-the- court briefs submitted by at least 17 state attorneys general, more than 100 companies, and about a dozen labor and civil rights groups. About a dozen conservative groups supported the government in three such briefs.
The appeals court was focusing on the narrow question of whether the district court had grounds to put the order on hold. The bigger legal fight over whether Trump had authority to issue the order will be addressed later in the litigation.
(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson in San Francisco)
Amid the public debate about America’s divisions, it may have been easy to miss this image just days before the inauguration: the national security advisers of Presidents Obama and Trump standing side by side to vow bipartisan cooperation in the transition of authority.
The advisers — Obama’s ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser — went beyond simple cordiality. Over two days, they met national security, diplomatic and international development leaders from across the political spectrum to explore common ground for the shaping of America’s foreign and security policies.
America’s recent political acrimony has been profound, but this gathering — “men and women who have, between them, witnessed every crisis to buffet American national security for 40 years,” noted The Economist — transcended it.The conference, called ”Passing the Baton,” is convened by the U.S Institute of Peace at presidential transitions.
It showed that, even now, dialogue can build the bipartisan foundations of effective policies so vital for national security.
As the Trump administration and a new Congress take on America’s security and foreign policy challenges, here are areas of broad agreement that emerged at Passing the Baton:
1. U.S. leadership is indispensable and will require allies.
Even more than most elections, last year’s contest spurred talk of an isolationist America inclined to turn inward, away from many of its international engagements and allies. But oceans long ago ceased to buffer us against turmoil abroad and every administration ends up having to respond to global crises and the threats they raise for America.
“We have to … take on a much greater leadership role” that “whether we like it or not, the world demands,”Flynn told us. The new administration will review U.S. “relationships around the globe,” he said.
But he joined Rice and others from both parties in urging that the United States continue to work with our partners. “In fact, alliances are one of the great tools that we have, and the strength of those alliances magnify our own strengths,” Flynn said.
2. America’s engagement abroad will include “strengthening its platform” at home.
Democrats and Republicans agreed that the United States needs to reinforce internal foundations from which it exercises its role abroad. This means “strengthening our economy, getting our politics to work, [and] restoring our military” following years of exhausting deployments and budget sequestration, said former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who served under President George W. Bush.
3. Getting ahead of crises abroad means addressing their root causes.
Across the political spectrum, policymakers and experts declared it urgent that the United States lead in an international partnership to focus on fragile states. These countries, governed ineffectively and often repressively, are generating the civil wars, extremism, refugees, pandemics and other crises that have roiled Europe and that threaten American security, noted retired Gen. Jack Keane.
Sen.Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) renewed his idea for an international public-private partnership — a “new Marshall Plan” — to offer greater development and investment to those states willing to enact tough reforms.
Graham and others noted that it is far cheaper to prevent crises in fragile states than to firefight wars and refugee emergencies after violence breaks out.The U.S Institute of Peace recently helped formulate strategic recommendations on that prevention work for the new Congress and administration.
4. U.S. policy must use all available tools and must strengthen those critical to building sustainable peace abroad.
Sens. Graham and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under President Clinton; and others, military and civilian, all underscored America’s need for strong tools of diplomacy, development and reconciliation.
Many focused on what federal budgeters call “the 150 account,” which covers all international activities except national defense. This spending “is 1 percent of the budget” and “is a great tool in the war on terror,” said Graham. If setting a budget to improve America’s “defense doesn’t mean the 150 account, you made a huge mistake,” he said.
Development work in strategic areas is “incredibly inexpensive compared to … military systems,” said retired Adm. James Stavridis. “These are really penny-on-the-dollar investments.”
5. American policy will need a bipartisan response to attacks on the rules-based international regime.
Leaders from across America’s political spectrum voiced concern at aggression by Russia; military assertiveness by China; a weakening in Europe’s cohesion; and the outsized influence that small groups or individuals can wield through advanced technology and weapons. These signal an erosion in the international system that has managed conflicts and advanced shared values, effectively if imperfectly, for seven decades.
“The world won’t get more orderly without U.S. leadership,” noted Frederick Kempe of the Atlantic Council.
6. Successful foreign policies require long-term consistency — perhaps for a decade or a generation.
Only sustained, consistent policies can solve or prevent crises, and this underscores the need for a bipartisan core to those policies. As Albright noted, the world’s challenges don’t present themselves in four- or eight-year segments.
Last year’s peace deal to end Colombia’s civil war was facilitated by a U.S. policy of economic development, security assistance and support for peace negotiations sustained by three administrations over more than 16 years.
Not all the talk at the conference was harmonious. But Americans from all sides showed their commitment to cultivating common ground on our relationship with the world.
For decades, American leaders have agreed that a bipartisan basis for our foreign policy is essential. Those who gathered at the recent Passing the Baton conference showed that it remains possible.
Originally published in The Hill. Republished with permission.
Source : USIP
Will Return Refugees to Persecution, Devastate Families, Threaten Public Safety
(Washington, DC) – The two executive actions, on immigration and border policy, that United States President Donald Trump signed on January 25, 2017, will severely harm millions of immigrants and US citizens, Human Rights Watch said today.
President Donald Trump has promised to move quickly to implement his agenda for change in the US. Many of the policies and pledges made by Trump and his cabinet nominees pose profound threats to the rights of people both within the US and abroad. In the coming critical weeks, Human Rights Watch experts will provide rolling coverage and analysis of the rights implications as the new government’s agenda unfolds.
What the Trump Refugee Ban Means for an ISIS Survivor
HRW’s Sarah Margon spent a damp, cold day this weekend at Khazir camp, about an hour outside of Erbil, which houses thousands of Iraqi civilians who have fled Islamic State control. There to learn more about the detention of many of these young men by Kurdish authorities, the immediate impact of President Donald Trump’s new executive order “hit me like a kick in the gut,” she writes.
Trump Ban Creates Chaos at Airports; Judge Issues Stay
President Donald Trump’s execuitive order suspending the US refugee program for at least 120 days and banning entry of nationals from seven countries created chaos at airports, prompting protests. Late in the day, a New York judge issued a temporary stay preventing the deportation of some travellers already in the country, Reuters reports.
Will Immigrants Personal Data Be Used To Help Deport Them?
A little-noticed provision in one of President Trump’s executive orders this week stripped federal privacy protections from many immigrants, raising fears among advocacy groups that information people willingly submitted to the federal government during the Obama administration could now be used to help deport them, writes the Washington Post. “The U.S. shouldn’t do a bait-and-switch with sensitive personal data. We have to be able to trust that the government will use and share that data only in the way it said it would,” ” says Sarah St. Vincent of Human Rights Watch.
Trump’s Refugee Scare-Mongering Has No Basis in Reality
In suspending the U.S. refugee resettlement program, President Donald Trump is turning his back on the very people who are most in need. Mr. Trump’s scare-mongering on refugees is out of all proportion to reality, writes Bill Frelick in the Globe and Mail.
US: Trump Delivers Blow to Refugees
“Trump Refugee Order “likely to hurt the people most in need”
President Donald Trump today signed an executive order that he claimed would clamp down on refugee admissions to the US. While the text has not been released yet, media reports suggest it will suspend the refugee program for 120 days and bar Syrian refugees indefinitely. The following quote can be attributed to
Grace Menge, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch comments:
“Trump’s latest executive order is likely to hurt the people most in need: those fleeing violence and terrorism, and on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less. Its decision to drastically curtail the refugee program would abandon tens of thousands to the risk of persecution or worse and cede American leadership on a vitally important issue.”
Trump, Iraqi Oil and International Law
In an interview with ABC this week President Donald Trump repeated his position the US “should have taken the oil” from Iraq during the occupation of the country following the 2003 US-led invasion. But Trump’s position would violate US law and military regulations that go back to the American Civil War and longstanding US international legal obligations. HRW’s Sarah Saadoun explains.
HRW’s Fred Abrahams: Trump & Torture
In an ABC News interview this week President Trump insisted that torture “works,” claiming his advisors told him so. That comes amid reports that Trump is considering executive orders that include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program and revise the Army Field Manual to determine whether certain “enhanced interrogation techniques” can be used. HRW’s Fred Abrahamsdiscusses the torture issue in an interview Brent Goff of DW News.
Jettisoning Women’s Rights: “Common Ground” for Russia and the US
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to speak on Saturday, the first call since the Russian leader called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory.
HRW’s Janet Walsh, Acting Director, Women’s Rights Division, comments:
Trump and Putin will talk by phone this weekend about “common ground” for Russia and the US. Sadly, jettisoning women’s rights seems to be part of Trump’s and Putin’s common ground. Today, Russia’s State Duma voted to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence. That’s right: decriminalize. The US, through Trump’s executive actions this week, is putting women’s lives at risk around the world. Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, a pernicious and cruel policy that will limit women’s access to lifesaving reproductive health services, including abortion. And an executive order to gut US funding for international agencies, including those working to prevent maternal mortality, is in the works. Common ground, indeed.
Showing Up Is Not Enough, Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with President Trump at the White House tomorrow. She has said being a female leader is the “biggest statement” she can make to the president about women’s rights when they meet. HRW’s Amanda Klasing begs to differ.
Trump’s Immigration Actions to Harm Millions
The two executive actions, on immigration and border policy, that United States President Donald Trump signed today will severely harm millions of immigrants and US citizens, Human Rights Watch said.
No Mr. President, Torture Does Not “Work”
In an ABC News interview tonight President Trump insisted that torture “works,” claiming his advisors told him so. Despite torture being illegal under US and international law, the claim that it works flies in the face of the conclusions of the more than 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program, which found, based on extensive evidence, that the program was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation. Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, reportedly toldTrump he had “never found” waterboarding to be useful. And just a few weeks ago, a group of 176 retired generals wrote to Trump to tell him that torture was counterproductive to US national security and that “lawful, rapport-based interrogation techniques are the most effective way to elicit actionable intelligence.”
Source : Human Rights Watch