Posted by Arab American Institute on January 09, 2017 in Blog

General John Kelly will appear before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs on Wednesday, January 11th at 2:00pm.

Watch online here

General John Kelly is a retired four-star Marine general who served as the commanding officer in Iraq of the Multi-National Force—West from February 2008 to February 2009, then as the commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in October 2009. Kelly became the Commander of United States Southern Command in November 2012 where he served until January 2016. In that post, Kelly’s responsibilities included overseeing the operations at the U.S. detention facilities in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. 

The Department of Homeland Security – which was created in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 – has a major role in creating and implementing national security programs that keep America and its borders safe. DHS directs several federal law enforcement agencies including the Customs and Border Patrol, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Given these responsibilities, the Arab American Institute has several questions for how General Kelly intends to pursue national security while also upholding civil liberties protections for all Americans, particularly Arab Americans and American Muslims who have been negatively impacted by some DHS actions in the past. Our questions include:

  • How will you govern the relationship between civil liberties and national security?
  • If directed to establish or assist in the creation of a “Muslim Database” or a “Muslim Ban” would you do so?
  • Will you support the continuation of the refugee resettlement program? Do you have confidence in the current vetting system for this program, and what in your view would “extreme vetting” entail?
  • Will you direct or allow surveillance programs that target American citizens based on religion, ethnicity, or political views?
  • What is your understanding of the domestic threat that ISIL poses, and how do you intend to counter it?
  • How would your Department approach protecting Americans from the broad landscape of domestic terrorism threats that cross the political, ideological, racial, and religious spectrums?
  • Would you make any changes to the current government watch listing system? How do you plan to ensure that Americans have sufficient access to due process mechanisms to challenge his/her placement on a watch list?