Posted by Ali Albassam on November 21, 2016 in Blog

After the controversial appointment of former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon as chief strategist, the President-elect took it a step further in appointing retired general Michael Flynn as national security advisor, Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and Mike Pompeo as CIA director.

What do all these men have in common?

They’ve all made controversial comments that should be disqualifying of any cabinet position.

Michael Flynn

Take for example, Michael Flynn, a decorated veteran who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 - 2014, on paper, Flynn's credentials appear to speak for themselves. But the moment you read his past statements, it becomes quickly apparent how problematic his appointment is.

In July, Flynn tweeted an anti-Semitic remark, before deleting and apologizing for it shortly after.

At an event in Dallas held by ACT! For America, a recognized hate group, Flynn compared Islam (not “radical Islam,”) to a “cancer” arguing that it “is a political ideology” that “definitely hides behind being a religion.”

Overlooking the many social, political, and economic reasons cited by several academics and national security experts, Flynn appears to view the Islamic faith as the root cause of violence. 

“Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” Flynn tweeted along with an anti-Islam conspiracy video.

When you scroll through his old tweets, you're likely to find more thinly veiled xenophobia and even conspiratorial fake news stories.

Despite Flynn’s inflammatory assertions on Islam, it should be noted that Flynn has no background in religion, let alone Islamic studies.

As National Security Advisor, his conspiracy theories about Muslims will heavily inform his counterterrorism work. Given Flynn’s views on Islam, it is safe to say religious liberty is not a protection afforded to American Muslims in his framework. 

Unlike Sessions, Flynn’s appointment does not require senate confirmation.

Now, he will be one of the first people our President-Elect goes to for advice when it comes to national security.

Senator Jeff Sessions 

Jeff Sessions, the Republican Senator from Alabama who’s vying to be Trump’s Attorney General is no stranger to controversial comments about minorities.

In fact, in the 1980’s, the senate failed to approve his federal judgeship due to accusations of racism. Former colleagues testified that he’s used the n-word, and that he thought the KKK was “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”

Attorney General Nominee Senator Jeff Sessions has stated that advocacy organizations “force civil rights down the throats of people.” And that civil rights groups like the ACLU and NAACP are “un-American”.

While Sessions has expressed his distaste for civil rights groups, he seems to have a very close working relationship with hate groups. 

Sessions has regularly accepted awards and given speeches at events hosted by hate groups like the  Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the  Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization, calls Sessions a “champion of Anti-Muslim and Anti-Muslim extremists.”

Sessions has endorsed candidate Trump’s “Muslim ban” stating, “We have no duty to morally or legally admit people,” and referred to the “toxic ideology of Islam.”

 As noted, the position of Attorney General has a lot of independent policy authority and prosecutorial discretion. In addition to implementing abhorrent policy prescriptions, we have concerns about an AG who voted against the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act at a time when we are seeing a surge in hate crimes nationwide.

If Sessions failed to disassociate himself from racism following his failed bid for federal judgeship, why should the Senate reward him by confirming him as Attorney General? 

Mike Pompeo

The 2016 presidential campaign had one candidate regularly trafficking in anti-Muslim bigotry and another criticizing him for doing so because it would negatively impact counterterrorism policy since American Muslims are the “front line” of combatting terror attacks.

Going further than this highly problematic narrative, Trump’s incoming CIA Director, Tea Party Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS-4), asserts that the Muslim community in America is a much larger part of the problem stating, “Silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow.” His prescription was remarkably honest: “We don’t have to say that all Muslims are bad. But … we’re going to have to have a broader approach in order to keep Americans safe.”

In addition to implying that Muslim leaders are complicit in terrorism, Pompeo has advocated for keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open, expanding mass surveillance, and bringing back torture methods such as waterboarding. 

Pompeo opposes the Iran deal (although the UN security council, Germany and several Nobel prized nuclear scientists endorse it) and wrote that  "Congress must act to change Iranian behavior and, ultimately, the Iranian regime,"

Such rhetoric indicates that if appointed, Pompeo could bring the CIA back in the business of regime change – a business Iran had the misfortune of being a customer of in the past.

Given the tone of the campaign, the policies proposed and the appointments made thus far, we have grave concerns about what is to come.  Concerns from bigotry and increased hate crimes to profiling and unjustified heightened scrutiny towards minority communities. Arab Americans, American Muslims and our allies during both the last days of the Obama Administration and the first 100 days of the Trump Presidency will continue to push back against concerning programs and policies.