Senate Democrats block Syrian refugee bill

Against 2016 backdrop, Senate to vote on Syrian refugees -

In a significant vote Wednesday that has both national security and 2016 campaign ramifications, senators will decide whether to take up a controversial bill that would curb the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to the United States in order to prevent terrorists from slipping in.

Senate Democrats blocked consideration of a Republican bill on Wednesday that would have curbed the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States in order to prevent terrorists from slipping in.

In exchange for taking up the bill, Democrats wanted votes on amendments, including one that would have forced GOP senators to go on-the-record on Donald Trump’s controversial plan to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

The 55 to 43 vote was largely split down party lines and fell short of the 60 votes needed for the bill to advance. The result means the refugee bill, which passed the House with broad bipartisan support in November, likely is dead for the year.

President Barack Obama had warned he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

“By blocking this measure, Senate Democrats are making it that much harder for us to keep Americans safe,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement after the vote. “Their vote is irresponsible in a time of grave threats. Even the administration’s top law enforcement officials say there are gaps in our refugee program that terrorists can exploit.”

Concern about the refugees is a dominant political issue in the presidential campaign, with Trump, the Republican front-runner, leading the charge against the Obama administration program. Most Democrats back the program, which provides safe havens for thousands of people fleeing those war-ravaged countries, and bristle at what they say are attempts by Republicans to politicize the plight of the refugees.

Republicans were equally frustrated that Democrats refused to modify the program, which drew scrutiny after the recent terrorist attack in Paris and concerns that it might have been carried out by refugees from Syria. Republicans also resented the Democrats’ insistence on getting votes on Trump’s Muslim ban. The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said Democrats were trying to force the “circus” of the 2016 campaign onto the Senate floor.

“I hate to see the Democratic leader try to trivialize this very important national security debate and discussion by injecting presidential election politics right in the middle of this important discussion and debate on the Senate floor,” Cornyn said.

The second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, charged that Republicans ran “like scalded cats” when Democrats tried to force a vote on Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.

GOP presidential candidates Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz returned to Washington from the campaign trail for the vote, the outcome of which was uncertain until a few hours before the vote when it became clear Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on how to deal with amendments.

Democratic presidential contender Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders missed the vote.

“By advancing this bill, Republicans are creating a terrible distraction for the sake of embracing the hateful rhetoric and vitriol of the Republican Party’s standard bearer, Donald Trump. This should come as a surprise to no one,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on the floor ahead of the vote. “Over and over again, Republicans remain committed to pledging loyalty to the divisive platform they have built for Donald Trump.”

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his colleagues to advance the measure.

“It’s clear that many Americans are concerned about the administration’s ability to properly vet thousands of individuals from Syria and Iraq. Elected officials in both parties have expressed concerns too, as have administration officials,” he said. “That’s why many Americans are asking us to take a step back and press ‘pause’ on the program so we can ensure we have the correct policies and security screenings in place.”

The bill requires the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence all to certify that individuals from Syria or Iraq — or a refugee who has visited one of those countries in the last five years — is not a security threat and can be admitted to the U.S.

The Obama administration threatened to veto the bill when it passed the House in November with the support of 47 Democrats, which means it could have enough support to override a veto in that chamber. Reid said at the time he expected his caucus to block the Senate from debating the bill.

Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, Iraq and other Mideast countries, warned lowering the number of refugees could feed the sense in that region that the U.S. has turned on Arabs, and Sunni Arabs in particular.

While he was there to express confidence in the vetting process, Olsen acknowledged he couldn’t guarantee a bad actor wouldn’t slip through.

“No process is absolutely perfect and there is no way to guarantee that every person who enters the country poses no threat. That’s not realistic,” he said. “The bottom line, from my understanding of the process now, is that if there is a doubt about the security of a person, then that person is not going to be admitted.”


Uncertain Journeys


EXPOSURES Uncertain Journeys BY ASHLEY GILBERTSON NOV. 21, 2015 Photo Volunteers help refugees, primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, disembark on the island of Lesbos, Greece, near Turkey. The Aegean Sea is particularly rough, with the first signs of winter storms beginning in late September when I made this photograph. During their journey, many refugees were seasick, and some suffered from life-threatening dehydration and cold. Credit Photographs by Ashley Gilbertson/VII Photo for Unicef


AFTER the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, our resolve to help refugees should be stronger than ever. As we express our anger and grief, we must remember that they are fleeing precisely the type of violence that France experienced that night. Rather than turning them away, the United States and Europe need to fully commit to managing their safe passage, screening and settlement, and not leave it up to the ragtag teams of volunteers who have so far been stepping in where governments and agencies have failed.

I recently spent three weeks photographing the refugee crisis in Greece, the Balkans and Germany, on assignment for UnicefOn the rocky shores of the Greek island of Lesbos, people scrambled out of their boats, welcomed by an ad hoc group of dedicated and passionate volunteers. Almost 700,000 refugees have arrived in the country this year after making the dangerous passage by sea from Turkey.

Governments and NGOs generally have sophisticated systems in place to manage the flow of people in emergency situations in developing countries. But I came across only occasional interventions by organized agencies.

The volunteers, many on vacation from throughout Europe and the United States, were filling the gaps. Some of them had medical training; a group of Spanish lifeguards patrolled the coast, diving into the frigid waters to rescue people; some handed out sandwiches they were making all day; and others distributed warm, dry clothes collected from towns and suburbs back home.

“Welcome to Europe!” they called out, hugging relieved refugees. There were many tears. Children, then parents, were wrapped in metallic space blankets. They were given medical assistance and provided with information about the next steps in their passage.

Their welcome is some of the only warmth in a cold and arduous journey. Men, women, children, the disabled, the elderly  no matter  they’re all packed one on top of the other into crowded train cars; screamed at in foreign languages; marched to buses by platoons of cops in full riot gear; kept in lines or clear of border fences by police officers using tear gas and batons; forced to wait for days at a time in filthy, backedup transit centers; and generally treated like undesirables, or worse, like criminals.

I expected the scenes of grief, trauma and desperation. I was surprised to find the many moments of relief, even joy, as the refugees built bonds and passed through hardship together. It is crucial that we bear witness to all of these aspects of the story.

As members of the public, I believe, we need to act as the watchdogs of governments and local authorities. We have to demand that policy makers provide systematic humanitarian assistance and not leave it solely up to volunteers to do the work.

We should be pressuring governments to treat the refugees as members of their own families. And everybody could be donating clothes, money or even our vacation time to receive them where they arrive.

We should not let that terrible night in Paris diminish our sense of humanity and responsibility. Let’s remember that the society that we are so protective of is built on the will of refugees  our own families and the families making the frightening journey today  with the hope of providing a better life for our children.



A volunteer on Lesbos, Kadoni Kinan, 26, pulled a young Syrian boy from a raft that had just arrived from Turkey. In 2010, when Mr. Kinan fled Syria, he stayed at a Red Cross center in Belgium for more than two years. “They gave me a lot when I was living there, and now it’s time for me to give them something back,” he said. Mr. Kinan, 26, flew to Greece to volunteer two months ago. “I did this because I am myself a refugee and I know this feeling very well. It would be good for the refugees who come by boat to find someone welcoming them,” he said. “I found my soul doing this.”

I also saw many moments of bonding. Two brothers, on the left, Ali Abdul-Halim, 17, and Ahmad Abdul-Halim, 15, are moving unaccompanied to Germany from their home in Balabak, Lebanon. They paused on a rock to call their parents to say that they’d survived the journey over the sea.

Hussein Nabizadeh, 32, held his son’s hand as they began the long walk to an aid station that would provide dry clothes and food.

15Volunteers-slide-WIJ1-master1050-v3A Syrian refugee was wailing near an elderly relative lying on a beach, badly dehydrated and suffering from a heart condition.

Eventually, a lone Dutch volunteer showed up. He had no idea what to do — and why should he?




At a transit camp in Gevgelija, Macedonia, people queued up to register and receive travel papers after crossing the border from Greece. From here, refugees board a special train that takes them to the Serbian border, a transit country for most of the refugees heading west.





People prepared to board a train at Gevgelija.

Transport options are becoming increasingly limited as the crisis develops, and operators of special trains like this are charging refugees about $37 each to make their way north. A number of people run out of money before they manage to enter the European Union.




Men, women, children, the disabled and the elderly are all packed like cattle into overcrowded trains across Macedonia, from the edge of Greece to the Serbian border. Passengers often wear masks to avoid inhaling the exhaust from the engine and to mask the foul smell of the toilet and burning brake pads. Throughout their journey, they are extorted by mafia-run operations and human smugglers.




In a quiet moment, Rosa Jelal, 20, changed her daughter as they passed through a transit center in Sid, Serbia. Ms. Jelal is a refugee from Kobani, Syria, and was hoping to make her way to Germany with her family.





Refugees waited in lines for up to three days in Presevo, Serbia. Most days, about 5,000 people crowded into the town, overwhelming the capacity of the reception center, and resulting in strong-arm tactics from the local police.




Muneer Yousafi, 16, who was traveling alone from Afghanistan when I met him, learned how to shave with new friends in a park by a bus station in downtown Belgrade, Serbia.

Muneer and his family left Kunduz, where he grew up, after the Taliban destroyed their house during fighting earlier this year. In the attack, Muneer lost partial use of the left side of his body, including his eye, arm and leg. “We escaped to Mazar-i-Sharif, because the situation in Kunduz was too dangerous. But all of Afghanistan is too dangerous, so my family collected all of their money and sent me here for security, and to get new citizenship,” he said. Ten days before I met him early October, he ran out of money, and had been stuck in Belgrade, living out of a tent in the park by the central bus station, which has become a resting place for those on their way west. His traveling companions continued to Germany, and, he says, “I am relying on other Afghans to give me a little bit of money until I can get enough to get to Germany.”

Three weeks after I met him, I received a note from Muneer saying he’d made it to Sweden.



Shaimae Drazeni, 15, at center, is from Halab, Syria. I photographed her as she was passing through a transit center in Berkasovo, northwest Serbia. She was relieved to be on her way to safety, though she was firm in her resolve to return to Syria as soon as she could.




An Italian volunteer sorted shoes for refugees at Miksaliste, a volunteer-run center in Serbia, which provides medical assistance, clothes, shoes, food and other necessities.




A father comforted his son inside a refugee transit center in Opatovac, Croatia. At this center, refugees were held behind high dirt berms in different quadrants of the camp, until police officers in full riot gear marched them out to buses.



Here’s What Republicans Don’t Get About Syrian Refugees


“These are not just random people showing up who we don’t know who they are.”


With a growing group of governors and members of Congress demanding a halt to the acceptance of Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks, refugee resettlement groups and the Obama administration are pushing back strongly against accusations that the vetting process for Syrian refugees is too lax.

Those demanding the United States keep out Syrian refugees maintain that ISIS may use the refugee crisis as a “Trojan horse,” as Donald Trump put it, to sneak terrorists into Western countries. Such fears were stoked by reports that the passport of a recently arrived Syrian refugee was found at the scene of a suicide bombing at the Stade de France in Paris. French authorities, though, say that document was forged.

But the refugee crisis in Europe is far different from the situation facing the United States. Thousands of refugees are entering Europe each day, and the UN refugee agency and individual governments are struggling to register, track, and care for them. But the United States has admitted fewer than 2,200 Syrians in the four years since the civil war there began, and the process of gaining permission to come to the US can take up to three years, say aid groups. In September, President Barack Obama pledged to accept at least 10,000 Syrians over the next year.

“Those who come to the United States have gone through a very thorough vetting process…with various departments of the government—the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center,” says Matthew Soerens, an official at World Relief, one of the nine organizations that help the government resettle refugees in the US. “So these are not just random people showing up who we don’t know who they are.”


Senior Obama administration officials held a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning to detail the vetting procedures for refugees and to counter what one referred to as “a lot of false information” about the resettlement program. “All refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the United States undergo intensive security screening, and this involves multiple federal intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies,” the official said. “The safeguards that are used include…fingerprint and biographic checks, and a lengthy in-person overseas interview.”

Another official on the call said the US government has added another layer of screenings specifically for Syrians called the “Syria Enhanced Review.” That program essentially prescreens and researches a refugee’s application, creating a dossier that US officials can then use to more precisely question refugees during their security interviews.

“If somebody says, ‘I was at a demonstration in Aleppo and the soldiers came and the police came and something happened,’ we can actually look back and see, was that consistent with known country conditions at that time and that place? And we can follow up with lines of questioning that would be appropriate,” the second official said.

The entire process can take from 18 months to three years. Lavinia Limón, the president of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a former head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, said security checks on refugees continue throughout this time period. And making it through all of the security steps may not guarantee that a Syrian can actually come to the United States. “There’s no right to come into the United States, so even if somebody passes all the security checks, if the [security officer] just doesn’t like the guy, doesn’t feel good about it, the officer can say no,” Limón says.

In their call with reporters, the Obama administration officials noted that governors cannot actually bar refugees from their states, as many have announced they would attempt to do. “Refugees arriving in the US are protected by the Constitution and federal law,” the first administration official said. “He or she is also free to move anywhere in the country.”

refugees_heartBut that doesn’t mean governors are completely powerless to make the lives of Syrian refugees more difficult. The nine nonprofit groups that help resettle refugees depend on a mixture of state, federal, and private funds and donations to help support newly arrived refugees. Governors could direct state refugee agencies to stop providing funds and assistance to Syrians. That could include services such as trauma counseling or English classes—assistance that might not be necessary for survival but that does help refugees successfully integrate into the community. “Those are critical resources,” says Soerens of World Relief.

Both he and Limón made it clear that the resettlement agencies won’t allow pressure from the governors to alter their plans to resettle refugees. “We actually have Syrian refugees landing in some of those states today,” Limón says. “I find it sort of amazing that these governors would be so undermining of our freedoms. Because it’s Syrian refugees today; who is it tomorrow?”


Let’s all remember what registering those of a particular religion looks like….it looks like this…


Kevin Varney

Let’s all remember what registering those of a particular religion looks like…it looks like this…

Jeremy Foster

Is this in reference to the reporters question to Trump about a Muslim database?
Like · 44 · November 20 at 4:50pm

Kevin Varney:

that as well as anyone who would label an entire group..but to be honest I have a hard time imagining that the government doesn’t have information on at least the majority of us in one form or another. Anti-government whites are more prolific in the U.S. than Islamic terrorists so I think that ship already sailed.

Let's all remember what registering those of a particular religion looks looks like this......

Posted by Kevin Varney on Friday, November 20, 2015

President Obama Compares Syrian Refugees to Mayflower Pilgrims, Administration Says States Can’t Block Them

President Obama used his weekly address to appeal to families counting their blessings on Thanksgiving, reminding Americans that the holiday isn’t only about turkey but a tribute to the deep immigration history that led to the nation’s founding.

obama“In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this continent, refugees who had fled persecution and violence in their native land,” Obama says. “Nearly 400 years later, we remember their part in the American story – and we honor the men and women who helped them in their time of need.”

The Obama administration said Wednesday that states can’t legally block the resettlement of refugees, according to a letter from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement sent to state officials.

In the letter, the agency said states are bound by the Refugee Act of 1980 to provide “assistance and services” to refugees “without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex or political opinion,” and cannot cut off ORR-funded services to Syrian refugees.

Additionally, the letter says refugees are protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits discrimination on the bases of race and national origin” in all programs that receive federal financial assistance.

More than 30 state governors have indicated they will attempt to block any future refugees from settling in their states.

Obama said he’s been “touched by the generosity of the Americans” who have written letters and emails in recent weeks offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the Islamic State, ISIL.

“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” the president says. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”

The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill on Nov. 19 that would require the FBIdirector to certify a background investigation for each potential refugee from Syria or Iraq, and administration officials including the DHS secretary must attest that each potential refugee is not a security threat to the U.S. The White House and Senate Democrats oppose the measure, which passed through the lower chamber with a veto-proof majority.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, charged that the majority of U.S. governors have taken positions that reflect the views of their constituents.

“It’s hypocritical for Obama Administration officials to threaten enforcement action against these states when they refuse to enforce the vast majority of our immigration laws, such as cracking down on sanctuary cities that openly defy federal law and endanger the American people,” he wrote. “The Administration’s latest threat shows why we need the American SAFE Act so that the American people have confidence in their government’s ability to fully screen refugees seeking to come here.”

After serving turkey to homeless veterans and pardoning a turkey on Wednesday, President Obama privately enjoys Thanksgiving at the White House.


DANGEROUSDallas Mayor ‘More Fearful’ Of White Terrorists Than Syrian Refugees


Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) isn’t afraid of the Syrian refugees fleeing a civil war in the Middle East. He’s more concerned about the white men who grab military-grade firearms and shoot up public venues.

“I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue,” Rawlings told MSNBC on Saturday, addressing the recent claims by a number of public figures that the U.S. needs to turn away refugees from war-torn Syria because some of them could be terrorists planning an attack.

Many members of Congress, along with a number of governors and Republican presidentialcandidates, have said they don’t think it’s a good idea for the U.S. to accept Syrian refugees in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Last Thursday, a bill that would likely halt the admission of Syrian refugees into the country passed in the House with overwhelming support.

But as Rawlings pointed out to MSNBC, refugees seeking to enter the U.S. actually go through a rigorous screening process that can take between 18 and 24 months. The process includes in-person interviews and in-depth background checks performed by the FBI, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. And there have been barely any cases of refugees conspiring to aid a foreign terrorist organization since the Sept. 11 attacks. Twelve of the 785,000 refugees accepted into the U.S. since 9/11 have since been arrested or removed because of terrorism concerns — accounting for about one thousandth of 1 percent of the total.

Since the attacks in Paris, many Arabs and Muslims have been openly discriminated against in the U.S. Rawlings noted that Western hostility toward Middle Eastern refugees will only help the self-styled Islamic State, the militant organization that has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and that seeks to radicalize moderate Muslims and drive a wedge between societies.

“ISIS is no more Islamic than the Nazi senior staff was Christian, and we have got to differentiate between those,” he said.


In the U.S., the term “terrorist” has become practically synonymous with “foreign Islamic extremist” since Sept. 11, even though self-identified Muslims have hardly had a monopoly on acts of terror in the U.S. and Europe in the past several decades. Historically and in recent years, white terrorists have always been more dangerous to U.S. citizens than foreign terrorists of other races or ethnicities.

The first federal anti-terrorism law was devised in 1871 in response to the Ku Klux Klan. And according to a study released in June by the New America Foundation, at least 48 people have been killed in the U.S. by radical anti-government groups or white supremacists since the Sept. 11 attacks — almost twice as many as were killed by self-identified jihadists in that time.

Last month, in response to growing threats, the Department of Justice created a new unit to combat domestic terrorism. Local law enforcement agencies have also reported being more concerned with the activities of right-wing extremist groups than Islamic extremists in their jurisdictions.

Rawlings is one of many mayors who are welcoming Syrian refugees into their cities despite the governors of their states opposing the gesture (something the governors don’t actually have the authority to enforce). Rawlings said Monday that he believes both he and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has said the state should refuse Syrian refugees, care deeply about the safety of Dallas.

“We want to get rid of ISIS. We all agree with that,” Rawlings said. “ISIS wants us to be divided on this issue. ISIS wants us to demonize these refugees, wants us to alienate these children.”

TRUMP CONTINUES TO SPREAD LIES: Muslim-Americans cheered on 9/11

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed Muslim-Americans cheered after the 9/11 attacks.

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump twice repeated over the weekend that he saw people cheering in New Jersey after the September 11 attacks — but his claims are being widely disputed as false.

Trump first made the claim at a campaign rally in Alabama on Saturday, where he said he “watched the World Trade Center go down” and watched in New Jersey, “as thousands of people were cheering as the building was coming down.”

He doubled down on those claims in an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week,” even as George Stephanopoulos pushed back.

RELATED: Trump calls for mosque surveillance

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” Trump said. “They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down.”

“Police say it didn’t happen,” Stephanopoulos pressed, to which Trump said he saw it himself on television.

Trump claimed: “It was well covered at the time.”

But numerous publications and local politicians have said Trump is incorrect.

Both Politifact and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker analyzed Trump’s claim. Politifact rated it“pants on fire” and The Washington Post gave it “four Pinocchios.”

Neither outlet could find any news reports that corroborate Trump’s account of events. There were a few reports of rumors that there were celebrations in New Jersey, along with images of Palestinians celebrating overseas that were broadcast locally.

A September 17, 2001, an Associated Press story referred to “unfounded … rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims” in Jersey City, New Jersey.

And in a September 18, 2001, article, The Washington Post wrote that “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.” But there was no source for the information and there is no evidence of anything coming of the questioning.

Politicians from the area also pushed back.

“Either @realDonaldTrump has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party,” Democratic Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted Sunday.

“Not sure what luxury spider-hole @realDonaldTrump was hiding in on Sept11 but I saw Americans come together that day @GStephanopoulos,” tweeted former New York Gov. George Pataki — a competing candidate in the GOP primary.

HATEFUL-LIAR“That is totally false. That is patently false,” Jerry Speziale, the police commissioner of Paterson, New Jersey, told The Washington Post. “That never happened. There were no flags burning, no one was dancing. That is [barnyard epithet].”

One of Trump’s GOP primary opponents, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was non-commital on whether it happened, but said he didn’t recall anything of the sort.

“I do not remember that, and so it’s not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but, you know, there could be things I forget, too,” Christie

Trump did get back up from his primary opponent Ben Carson, who told reporters gathered in Nevada that he did see celebrations of American Muslims in New Jersey after 9/11.

“I saw the film of it, yes,” he said. Asked what kind of film, he said: “The news reels.”

“You know there are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything,” Carson said. “I think that was an inappropriate response. I don’t know if on the basis of that you can say all Muslims are bad people. I really think that would be a stretch.”

But Florida Sen. Marco Rubio denounced Trump’s claim Monday after a campaign event in Iowa.

“It’s not true and there’s plenty of fact-checks to prove that it isn’t,” he told reporters there, according to his campaign.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Monday that he didn’t know where Trump was getting his evidence.

“I don’t think anybody else in America has seen it,” Sanders said. “What I get concerned about, Brooke, is the growth of Islamophobia in this country, the desire to win votes by scapegoating a group of people, which is not what America is supposed to be about. So I think once again, Mr. Trump is missing the boat.”

Trump himself also demanded an apology from The Washington Post later Monday linking to the 2001 article referencing murky reports of allegations of celebrating.

“Via @washingtonpost 9/18/01. I want an apology! Many people have tweeted that I am right!,” Trump tweeted.

Serge Kovaleski, the lead reporter on the Washington Post story that Trump links to, said he doesn’t remember witnesses reporting large groups of people celebrating.

“We did a lot of shoe leather reporting in and around Jersey City and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story. Much of that has, indeed, faded from memory,” said Kovaleski, who’s now an investigative reporter for The New York Times. “But I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember.”

The Washington Post had already updated its story many hours earlier to include the quote from its 2001 story and said it didn’t change the rating it was giving Trump’s claims.

The comments came during a weekend where Trump called for surveillance of mosques, the use of waterboarding, a registry list for all refugees and in which he retweeted a follower’s tweet containing bogus statistics falsely implying blacks were responsible for most murders of both races.

Study Says White Extremists Have Killed More Americans in the U.S. Than Jihadists Since 9/11

Two women hug as community members in Oak Creek, Wisc., pay respects to the six victims in the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Aug. 10, 2012

Two women hug as community members in Oak Creek, Wisc., pay respects to the six victims in the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Aug. 10, 2012

Radical Islamists were also indicted more frequently than non-Muslim extremists and served longer sentences

Since 9/11, white right-wing terrorists have killed almost twice as many Americans in homegrown attacks than radical Islamists have, according to research by the New America Foundation.

In their June study, the foundationdecided to examine groups “engaged in violent extremist activity” and found that white extremists were by far the most dangerous. They pointed to the recent Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, as well as many lesser-known attacks on Jewish institutions and on police. They found that 48 people were killed by white terrorists, while 26 were killed by radical Islamists, since Sept. 11.

The study also found that the criminal justice system judged jihadists more harshly than their non-Muslim counterparts, indicting them more frequently than non-jihadists and handing down longer sentences.


The tables below show the lethal terrorist incidents in the United States since 9/11.





For More Than 200 Years, America Has Shunned A ‘War On Islam’

In the late 18th and early 19th century, a number of North African nations were ruled by dictatorial leaders whose territories came to be known under the collective heading of the Barbary States. These leaders, such as Yusuf Karamanli (who ruled as the Pasha of Tripoli in what would become modern-day Libya), were in league with groups of nautical raiders who frequently attacked ships throughout the Mediterranean and beyond in order to finance their operations, and who came to be known as the Barbary Pirates.

In the final years of the 18th century and throughout the first two decades of the 19th century, the United States was drawn into multiple, semi-undeclared military conflicts with these Barbary Pirates. The first such Barbary War was conducted by the Jefferson administration against Karamanli’s Tripoli between 1801 and 1805, supported by congressional acts that stopped short of declaring war but authorized activities such as seizing ships and supplies. The Second Barbary War (1815) was fought by the Madison administration (with more overt congressional sanction) a decade later against Algiers, which had sided with England during the recently concluded War of 1812 and was continuing to harass American shipping.

MUSLIMSThe specific causes and histories of each Barbary War, and of the conflicts that led up to and followed them, were various and complex. Yet from the earliest such conflicts the U.S. government had made one thing very explicit and clear: the battles were not in any way between religions or civilizations. In 1796, the Washington administration sent his old Army colleague David Humphreys and other ambassadors to North Africa to negotiate a treaty with the Barbary States; the resulting document came to be known as the Treaty of Tripoli, and was sent to the Senate by new President John Adams and unanimously ratified in the summer of 1797.

That treaty opened with a clear statement of the goal, “a firm and perpetual Peace and friendship” between the nations. And in Article 11, it addressed directly the issue of religion:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Those interruptions, when they arose a few years later, had no more to do with religion or a clash of civilizations than did these late 18th century issues.

The evolving U.S. relationship with the Barbary States didn’t just affect our foreign policy. During the Revolution, the North African nation of Morocco was the first in the world to recognize the new United States (in 1777); the two nations would subsequently sign a Treaty of Friendship in 1786, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson signing for the United States. Thanks to this enduring relationship, when a number of Moroccan Muslims—“Moors,” as they were known in the language of era—sought to flee the rising power and brutality of the Barbary States, they chose America as their destination. Many of these refugees settled in Charleston, South Carolina, helping comprise the state’s burgeoning Moorish community that would become the subject of one of South Carolina’s first post-Constitution laws, the Moors Sundry Act of 1790.

TRUMP’S BIGOTRY CONTINUES…AGAINST THE PRESIDENT AND MUSLIMSTrump continues find ways to blame everyone else for his poor judgment but himself. Anyone that is n…

There are no easy answers to the international issues and conflicts facing the United States and our allies in 2015, nor simple solutions for the communities of refugees fleeing those conflicts. Yet as our histories illustrate, any answers that include either a “war with Islam” or a refusal to accept such refugees in the United States will represent a significant and troubling break from some of our foundational moments and ideals.

Ben Railton is an Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Fitchburg State University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.