Report: About 900 State Dept. Officials Sign Dissent Memo on Executive Order
WASHINGTON -- About 900 State Department officials have reportedly signed on to a memo disagreeing with the Trump administration's refugee ban and block of people entering the country from a handful of Muslim-majority nations despite White House warnings that they should fall in line.
A draft dissent memo that began circulating after President Trump's Friday executive order notes the "near-absence" of terror attacks committed by those entering the country on a visa from the targeted countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- and emphasizes the "isolated incidents of foreign nationals entering the U.S. on a visa to commit acts of terror," from countries not listed in the executive order.
The memo argues that the order will sour relations with Muslim-majority countries, increase anti-American sentiment and possibly be "a tipping point towards radicalization," and will "impose terrible humanitarian burdens" as well as hurt the U.S. economy.
"The end result of this ban will not be a drop in terror attacks in the United States; rather, it will be a drop in international good will towards Americans and a threat towards our economy," it adds. "Looking beyond its effectiveness, this ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold."
Reuters reported that the memo has now been submitted through the proper management channels.
State Department employees using the Dissent Channel, which dates back to the Vietnam War era as an outlet for foreign service officers and other employees to express their views, are protected from retribution. Cables drafted within the Dissent Channel work their way up to the secretary of State, where a response is required within 1-2 months. NPR reports that the State Department usually sees a handful of dissent cables each year, such as one last year from about 50 FSOs dressing down the Obama administration for not doing more to protect Syrian civilians.
"The Dissent Channel was created to allow its users the opportunity to bring dissenting or alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues, when such views cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels or procedures, to the attention of the Secretary of State and other senior State Department officials in a manner which protects the author from any penalty, reprisal, or recrimination," reads the department policy.
"Freedom from reprisal for Dissent Channel users is strictly enforced; officers or employees found to have engaged in retaliation or reprisal against Dissent Channel users, or to have divulged to unauthorized personnel the source or contents of Dissent Channel messages, will be subject to disciplinary action. Dissent Channel messages, including the identity of the authors, are a most sensitive element in the internal deliberative process and are to be protected accordingly."