Though cast as measures meant to make the U.S. safe, the Trump administration’s moves during its first week in office are more likely to weaken the counterterrorism defenses the United States has erected over the past 16 years, say current and former U.S. officials, the Washington Post reports. Through inflammatory rhetoric and hastily drawn executive orders, the administration has alienated allies, including Iraq, provided propaganda fodder to terrorist networks that frequently portray U.S. involvement in the Middle East as a religious crusade, and endangered critical cooperation from often-hidden U.S. partners, whether the leader of a mosque in an American suburb or the head of a Middle East intelligence service.
An executive order issued Friday bans entry to people from a list of Muslim-majority nations including Iraq, where U.S. military and intelligence agencies have relied on cooperation from Iraqi and Kurdish authorities, not to mention thousands of individual translators and contractors. “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” said Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and John McCain (AZ). “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.” Supporters of the Islamic State quickly claimed the travel ban as a victory. Postings on social-media sites linked to the terrorist group predicted that Trump’s order would galvanize Muslims. A leaked draft of an order on U.S. detention policies compounded critics’ concerns by raising the prospect of rebuilding the CIA’s network of notorious “black site” prisons around the world.