On January 27, 2017, one week after his inauguration, Donald Trump issued an executive order, temporarily banning entry into the U.S. of people from five predominantly Muslim countries; Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia. This ban, which White House mouthpieces denied was a ‘ban,’ but which Trump described in a tweet as a ‘ban,’ was, they claim, intended to protect the homeland from terrorist attack. Tens of thousands of travelers, including some U.S. legal permanent residents, were caught up in this uncoordinated, ill-conceived move. Individuals and organizations filed suit to block it. When acting Attorney General Sally Yates told DOJ attorneys she saw no legal basis to try and defend the order, Trump fired her and replaced her with a tame U.S. Attorney who promised to try and defend it.

Shortly after the executive order was announced, several hundred State Department Foreign Service Officers signed a Dissent Channel message, opposing the ban and offering alternatives that they believed would better achieve Trump’s aims. Unfortunately, that message, which is supposed to be an internal State Department document, was leaked to the media.

The White House response, as in the case of the acting AG, was swift and predictably brutal. White House attack dog (aka spokesperson) Sean Spicer, in a press conference on January 31, went on a rant, not about this internal document being leaked, but about bureaucrats who didn’t wholeheartedly support whatever inane idea the minions in the White House come up with, saying, that they should ‘get with the program or get out.’

In a side note, counselor to the president, Kellyanne Con2way, cited the ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ to justify the executive order, and when it was pointed out that no such massacre ever took place, her response was, ‘oops, I meant the Bowling Green terrorists.’ Of course she did, and we’re supposed to overlook her verbal slip – but, more on that later.

On February 3, Judge James Robert, a George Bush-appointed federal judge in Seattle issued a restraining order, temporarily stopping implementation of the executive order nationwide. Trump’s response, as usual, was to take to Twitter to castigate the ‘so-called’ judge and maintain that his ‘legal’ order would be upheld. We’ll see.

A month into the Trump Administration and we have more evidence that this gang has no respect for order or other people, and have every intention of forcing their views down our throats whether we will it or not. They also display a shocking ignorance of reality, preferring instead their ‘alternate’ facts.

Take the firing of the acting AG, for instance. Yates, like all other executive branch officials regardless of party, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution when she took office. In her confirmation hearings before Attorney General Candidate Jeff Sessions, she testified that she would do her job fairly and not cave to White House pressure. She honored her word, and was fired for it, the first Justice official to be fired under these circumstances since the Nixon Administration.

Even more disturbing to me, as a former diplomat, was Spicer’s reaction to the Dissent Channel message. Established during the Nixon Administration, because of the strong objections to the war, the Dissent Channel is a way for rank and file in the diplomatic corps to communicate their views to the decision makers on policy issues without fear of retaliation. Whoever leaked it was wrong to do so, and that is what should have upset Spicer. Instead, he chose to attack the signatories, and in a not-so-veiled way threaten their jobs.

As to Conway’s Bowling Green story, the facts are that two Iraqi brothers were tried and convicted of attempting to send money and material supporting attacks on U.S. military personnel overseas, not here in the U.S. She conveniently left this information out of her ‘story.’ A few other lines in her first statement are also worthy of mention. The domestic terrorist-related incidents, the San Bernadino shootings and the Orlando nightclub shootings, were the work of Pakistani immigrants and the US-born son of an Afghan immigrant respectively. Neither of those countries are on Trump’s banned list. Nor, for that matter, is Saudi Arabia, home to the majority of the 9/11 hijackers. The press could ask someone from the White House to explain, but that would probably just generate more smoke.

All of this, but in particular, Spicer’s spouting in his press conference, shows a complete disdain for the bureaucracy that the Trump White House will need to implement his policies for the next four years—I’d like to see him get it done with just the crew of obedient lap dogs he’s surrounded himself with. It also shows an abysmal ignorance of the Constitution, laws, and how things really work. The Dissent Channel was intended to allow those within the ranks to express views on policy issues. The decision makers have the option of ignoring this advice, but if they at least consider it, and explain why they’re rejecting it, they have a better chance of garnering rank and file support to carry it out. As a former army officer, I was taught to always tell the commander when you think he’s about to make a wrong decision, and when he says thank you, but I’m doing it anyway, salute and execute, or resign. Those who signed the Dissent Channel message are, I’m sure, willing to do that. The White House, with its ‘my way or the highway’ mindset, does not seem willing to accept any response but, ‘yes sir, three bags full, sir.’

If, as I fear, the learning curve of Trump’s White House is shallow, we’re in for a rough ride over the next four years.

Published by Charles Ray