GOP frontrunner Donald Trump wasted no time in amping up his rhetoric against Muslims shortly after the tragic attacks in Brussels. But the inflammatory statements Trump continues to make actually play right into the hands of terrorist organizations like ISIS, says one expert on terrorism, and such rhetoric needs to be stopped. Other experts agree.
Trump has once again started to call for closed borders and torture.
“I would close up our borders to people until we figure out what’s going on,” Trump said Tuesday morning on Fox News. “We have to be smart in the United States. We’re taking in people without real documentation, we don’t know where they’re coming from, we don’t know what they’re — where they’re from, who they are.”
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“Waterboarding would be fine” for Salah Abdeslam, one of the alleged participants in the massacre in Paris last November, which had previously been a cause for Trump to increase his rhetoric against Muslims, Trump said on the Today Show. In addition, he has stated bluntly that he would like to do “a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding to terrorism suspects, and on Tuesday he again repeated his belief that laws should change in order to allow acts of torture even beyond waterboarding.
“If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people.”
But this is actually exactly what Americans, particularly those who hope to hold the highest office in the land, should not be saying, according to Malcolm Nance, head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project and a veteran of Navy intelligence.
Nance expressed horror over Trump’s comment on MSNBC.
“Good God, they’re probably cutting videos of this right now. Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives … that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that’s why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them.”
Michael Chertoff, who was secretary of homeland security under the George W. Bush administration, flatly called Trump’s ideas “preposterous” on Fox News.
“First of all, we have a much, much tougher refugee program than the Europeans have,” Chertoff explained. “The problem the Europeans have is people showed up on their doorstep — hundreds of thousands, coming directly from the region. That does not happen in the U.S. We check people very carefully before we admit them as refugees.”
Chertoff readily admits that it’s not impossible for someone to come into the United States and carry out a terrorist attack, but he says that improvements made in the United States’ visa waiver program, as well as the officials’ ability to review data, make such a possibility “much harder in the U.S.”
Furthermore, Chertoff points out that historically, the people who have carried out terrorist attacks in the U.S. did not necessarily start out as Muslims. Many of them, in fact, did not.
“On the other hand, if you look historically back at people who carried out terrorist attacks in the U.S., many of them didn’t start out as Muslims,” Chertoff said. So Trump’s “bluster” on closing the borders to the United States would not be very effective, Chertoff believes.
“The idea that you can identify people who are a risk based upon their religion or the way they look is completely fallacious. It’s like going after cancer with a meat axe instead of a scalpel.”
But even if Trump’s call for closing the borders to people based on their religion, as well his clamoring for torture, Malcolm Nance believes it is harmful bluster. In fact, he believes that Trump’s rhetoric is detrimental to global counterterrorism missions.
“There are intelligence officers right now that are going to have to contend with their partners over what’s being said during the U.S. presidential race,” he said. “It’s irresponsible, and it needs to stop.”
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]