Reacting to London Attack, Trump Says Travel Ban Is Tough and Smart. He's Half Right.

The president's counterterrorism policy confuses political incorrectness with seriousness.



Reacting to the terrorist attack in London on Saturday night, Donald Trump tweeted that "we need to be smart, vigilant and tough," "stop being politically correct," and "get down to the business of security for our people." But the only concrete policy he mentioned was his temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries, which is unlikely to make the already tiny risk of dying in a terrorist attack any smaller.

"We need the courts to give us back our rights," the president said on Saturday, meaning he wants the Supreme Court to lift the preliminary injunction against his executive order. "We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!"

If that is Trump's aim, the focus of his travel ban is rather puzzling. The executive order covers six countries (down from seven in the original version): Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Since 1975 no one in the United States has died in an attack by a terrorist from any of those countries, although there have been less serious incidents, including two nonfatal knife attacks last year by people with Somali backgrounds, both of whom were killed in the midst of their assaults. From 1975 through 2015, according to a count by Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh, six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, and one Yemini were "convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil."

Continuing the administration's pattern of ignoring relevant evidence, Trump's order mentions just one of those cases, involving "a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen." As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit noted when it upheld the injunction against the travel ban, the order "does not include any examples of individuals from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen committing terrorism-related offenses in the United States." But according to Nowrasteh, there are at least 13 such cases involving people from Iran, Sudan, and Yemen.

Even if Trump had included all the relevant examples, the case for targeting these six countries would be weak, since citizens of other countries account for a much larger share of terrorist plots, attacks, and casualties in the United States. From 1975 through 2015, Nowrasteh found, 19 foreign-born terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, 14 came from Pakistan, 11 came from Egypt, and 11 more came from Cuba. Their combined death toll was 2,537. During the same period, six foreign-born terrorists came from Iran, six from Sudan, two from Somalia, and one from Yemen. Zero came from Libya or Syria. The combined death toll for terrorists from those six countries was zero.

Nor is it clear how Trump's plan, which calls for the development of improved vetting procedures during the three months when citizens of the six countries would be forbidden to enter the United States, can reasonably be expected to catch the tiny percentage prone to terrorism. As an internal Department of Homeland Security report prepared last March notes, "most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns." In the one relevant case cited by Trump's executive order, for instance, better vetting would have made no difference, since the offender entered the country as a child.

In a declaration cited by the 4th Circuit, 10 former national security, foreign policy, and intelligence officials (mostly from Democratic administrations) said "there is no national security purpose for a total bar on entry for aliens" from the seven countries named in the original travel ban (the current six plus Iraq). "Since September 11, 2001," they said, "not a single terrorist attack in the United States has been perpetrated by aliens from the countries named in the Order." As noted above, that is not quite accurate. But it is fair to say that Trump's selection of countries seems arbitrary given the backgrounds of terrorists who have carried out attacks in the United States, very few of whom came from any of those countries.

The same is true if you look at people convicted in connection with planned domestic attacks that never came to fruition. Nowrasteh identified four such cases involving people from the targeted countries (two from Iran and two from Somalia) since 9/11.

Trump's travel ban may indeed be tough (at least as far as its impact on foreign nationals and their American relatives goes), and it may be politically incorrect. It may even be (and probably is) constitutional. But that does not make it smart.

Addendum: In a follow-up tweet this morning, Trump says, "The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C." That remark is weird for a couple of reasons: 1) It was Trump, not the Justice Department, who ultimately decided to issue a revised executive order rather than continue to defend the original version, and 2) excluding lawful permanent residents and current visa holders from the ban made the order harder to challenge.

Trump compounds the weirdness in a subsequent tweet: "The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court—& seek much tougher version!" Reverting to the original order after successfully defending the revised one would only prolong the legal battle, and here again Trump makes it seem as if he is not really in charge of his own administration, that the Justice Department decides which executive orders to issue.

NEXT: Brickbat: Where's The Beef?

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  1. including two nonfatal knife attacks last year by people with Somali backgrounds

    Up next: a ban on libertarians.

    It’s the only way to be safe.

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  2. Are you telling me that the first thing reason has to say about the latest terrorist attack–which happened LITERALLY right before the tribute for the last one–is the standard lefty boilerplate about how unlikely it is that you’ll get attacked?

    Jesuz fukkn crist. Isn’t that shtick getting old yet? Shouldn’t you all be just about to bow, dripping with blood, semen, and excreta and shout “The Libertarians!!”

    1. Simple math is “standard lefty boilerplate” now?

      1. Don’t try to shame his feelz with your liberal elitist numbers!

      2. It’s almost as tasteless and shameful as when the liberal cucks post about how uncommon mass shootings are when there is one.

        Shut up and ban guns already you cucks.

        1. Except those things are in no way equivalent.

      3. Simple math along with other basic facts.

    2. Motherfucker we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and the govt has shit on our civil liberties and privacy to fight terrorism so you and Trump can go fuck yourselves.

      1. +1 Lick my taint.

    3. At least they left out the lightning strikes this time.

    4. Damn, got the retards riled up.

      But that’s part of the shtick, isn’t it?

      Gotta pretend that no one understands the ‘math’, that people are too stupid to grasp that they’re not very likely to be killed by a terrorist at all.

      Everyone gets that, geniuses.

      Here’s what you don’t seem to be getting.

      Terrorists aren’t lightening. Lightening is gonna happen. There’s nothing you can do to stop it. Car accidents are gonna happen as long as there are cars. Accidents will happen.

      But terrorism doesn’t have to happen. It CAN actually be stopped. Because it’s something people decide to do. So people trying to stop it aren’t fighting lightening–they’re trying to make other people abandon a tactic.

      Terrorism is a tactic. It’s not a standalone incident. It can’t be–and still be terrorism. It’s a tactic in asymmetrical warfare.

      That’s right, warfare. We’re fighting a war. Not a conventional one by any means, but a war nonetheless. And the people we’re fighting–however ineptly the intelligentsia thinks they’re doing–have explicitly stated that they do, in fact, intend to destroy our way of life, smash everything we believe in.

      And each ‘terror attack’ is a tiny victory for them, each one gets them recruits, each one confirms their belief that they are ‘winning’ against a weak west.

      And your response is ‘let them win ‘cos it’s not hurting us yet’. Imbeciles.

      1. If the purpose of terrorism is to instill terror, your shit-stained drawers represent at least one victory.

        1. You are statistically unlikely to be physically assaulted by a cop, so you should not concern yourself with trying to prevent those kinds of events.

          1. Sssssh! these ones only get mad when you throw logic instead of poo.

          2. *You are statistically unlikely to be physically assaulted by a cop, so you should not concern yourself with trying to prevent those kinds of events.*

            Are you saying we should ban cops to prevent those kinds of events, then?

            The whole debate is where you draw the line. I’m not comfortable with a blanket ban on every single person from various countries because it goes too far and entrenches bad practice of extensive government power and control.

          3. Who is saying that no one should be concerned with preventing terrorist attacks?

      2. Huh, a war, you say? What a novel viewpoint. Hopefully the government will get off its ass and start engaging in warfare.

      3. We’re fighting a war.

        Speak for yourself.

        1. No, we are not fighting a war.

          Islam IS fighting a war, but few people in the West understand that.

      4. Successful attacks are the ends of recruitment. The means of recruitment is showing videos of Trump bashing Muslims and constantly stoking fear of terrorism.

        1. “”The means of recruitment is showing videos of Trump bashing Muslims and constantly stoking fear of terrorism.””

          That’s pretty short sighted since he’s been in office for a short time. What about the attacks when Obama was in office?

          This is a far deeper problem that shaking your fist a Trump.

        2. Successful attacks are the ends of recruitment. The means of recruitment is showing videos of Trump bashing Muslims and constantly stoking fear of terrorism.

          So, videos of Trump bashing Muslims causes terrorism?


          Funny, London elected a Muslim mayor and the Muzzies seem somewhat less than impressed by this.

          Why would Trump overwhelm the “positivity” of electing a far-left Muslim as mayor of a dying city?

      5. It’s like chili day at the zoo with all the shit you monkeys are flinging. Guess you all like how it feels on your fingers.

        Not ‘speaking’ for anyone–just pointing out what IS happening. I know reality can be difficult, but, there it is, sorry. Maybe if you screech ‘la la la’ louder and fling some more poo you’ll feel better.

        And yes, it would be so nice if the government acted as if they understood this.

        But they don’t. Like Tony, they get it ass-backwards. The means of recruitment is dead infidels with infidel governments, media, and other verbose imbeciles screeching that ‘it’s not ALL muslims–besides, the chance of this happening is rare–and anyone who speaks out against this is a pants-shitting islamophobe’ as the chunks of bodies cool on the pavement.

      6. Unfortunately, we’re not fighting a war.

        Even Trump doesn’t get it.

        Islam is fighting a war.

        We’re just losing it.

    5. This has been Reason’s schtick for some time now: we shouldn’t be terrified of throat-cutting Islamonazis, instead we should be terrified of manmade global warming and statues of dead Confederate generals.

      1. Whatever other complaints there may be against them, I find that Reason is pretty good about not telling us we should be afraid about particular things.

      2. You and Bailey should just fuck and get it over with.

    6. Shouldn’t you all be just about to bow, dripping with blood, semen, and excreta and shout “The LibertariansAristocrats!!”

    7. “is the standard lefty boilerplate about how unlikely it is that you’ll get attacked?”

      That’s the standard Libertarian response. The standard lefty response is to excuse the attacks because the perpetrators are of an oppressed class. I guess you don’t need me to tell you the standard righty response.

  3. Did the fat turd twit something dumb again?

    1. Works as designed. Trump Tweet = lefty media has TDS with while real important news happens without them covering it.

  4. …”although there have been less serious incidents, including two nonfatal knife attacks last year by people with Somali backgrounds, both of whom were killed in the midst of their assaults. During the same period, according to a count by Cato Instutute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh, six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, and one Yemini ‘have been convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.’ “
    Thank you Jacob. Some people (Shikha) want to ignore that people from the named countries have tried to kill Americans.

  5. So, Reason is now calling for a total Muslim ban?

    1. They sure have expended a lot of energy describing how Trump’s plan won’t work without offering much in the way of alternatives. But I’m pretty sure THAT alternative is off the table.

  6. I don’t like Trump but not everything he does is wrong. There are about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and up to 180 million are Salafist / Wahabist. Probably another 40% agree, sympathize or empathize with their ideas. Saudi Arabia who is the biggest supporter of terroism are building Mosque all ovet the world exporting their state religion. If you want to understand their brand of Islam just look at their country. They are one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet. Immigrants from these countries do not assimilate to their host countries. Take a look at Briton, France or for take matter Dearborn Michigan. Once their numbers increase they start demanding all businesses cater to their religious views. They don’t want follow their host country’s laws they want to establish Sharia courts. If Muslims actions in European countries are any indication then I would have to agree with Trumps travel ban but to include Saudi Arabia.

    1. Exactly. Do we really want more of them moving here from those cultures?

    2. RE: but to include Saudi Arabia

      That’s kind of the article’s point; even if one ascribed to the logic Trump was employing – that we must block Muslims from entering the country – the proposed ban is a failure. It doesn’t even apply to the countries that have produced the terrorists that have hurt us. The political feasibility (or wisdom) of including Saudi Arabia, an important if unpalatable ally to us in the Middle East, is basically out of the question.

      In total, that means the Travel Ban is just idiotic saber-rattling, red meat thrown to a certain subset of the voting bloc, and is not a serious piece of regulation.

      1. That is true.

        But the alternative was Hillary who openly advocated to bring in more “refugees”.

        At least now we’re talking about the issue instead of pretending it doesn’t exist like left wants to keep doing.

        1. I disagree with you there, I think we’d be talking about the issue no matter who was in office. The difference would be the outcomes the administration was pushing for.

      2. Sorry Saudi Arabia isn’t an ally. We are their paid mercenaries. They hate our poltics, our way of life and our freedom of religion. The only thing that they like are our politicians because our politicians are the best that money can buy.

        1. “Sorry Saudi Arabia isn’t an ally. ”

          You are correct. Belgium, Denmark and Canada are allies. The arrangement with Saudi Arabia is called a ‘strategic partnership,’ which a is step down and includes such bastions of democracy as Pakistan, Israel and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

          “The only thing that they like are our politicians because our politicians are the best that money can buy.”

          Not true. There are many many American things Saudis like to buy. Apartments in Manhattan, for example.

  7. “The executive order covers six countries (down from seven in the original version): Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Since 1975 no one in the United States has died in an attack by a terrorist from any of those countries,”

    Please… Pretty Please, stop saying things like this as if it was some valid relevant point. Don’t get me wrong, I think Trump’s planned travel ban is stupid and won’t accomplish anything. But, this point is equally stupid. Prior to September 11th, no one had ever died from a terrorist attack of crashing commercial airlines into a building. The attacks that succeed tend to be either small scale or use a new, original concept.

    You’re essentially towing the same line as Homeland Security and supporting security theater that intended to help people’s feelz by reacting to attacks that have already happened.

  8. “The executive order covers six countries (down from seven in the original version): Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Since 1975 no one in the United States has died in an attack by a terrorist from any of those countries”

    I’ve read of dozens of Somali-Americans who’ve traveled to join ISIS and other terrorist groups from Minneapolis. Nine of them were taken off planes bound for Syria and convicted of trying to join ISIS.

    There was a report at the WSJ last week (before the attack over the weekend) that showed that of the 16 terrorists who perpetrated attacks in Europe over the last two years, 13 of them were the European born children of immigrants–much like the Somali-Americans who joined ISIS.

    If screening for ties to terrorism won’t prevent the children of immigrants from coming to the United States because it’s their children that represent the clearest terrorist threat, then that doesn’t make people less likely to support Trump’s “travel ban” or enhanced screening. That makes Americans want to prevent people from countries strongly associated with terrorism from coming here in the first place.

    1. Yeah, it’s not really about what country a terrorist is born in, more like the countries that are unstable enough to currently harbor terrorist organizations.

      1. THIS^^
        The travel ban should cover anyone who has visited those countries and Pakistan, Yemen, etc in the past 5 years without explicit govt authorization. Including US citizens.

        If you go there, f you!

        1. Including US citizens.

          That one might be tough.

    2. Take a close look at the Mosque in Minneapolis. You will probably find it was paid for by Saudi Arabia and it’s spiritual leader is Salafist or Wahabist. If any Mosque prduces more than two terroist it should be bulldozed and it’s leader deported.

      1. You cannot do that. Constitution and all that.

        That is why you don’t let them come in such numbers in the first place. They have no constitutional rights outside US jurisdiction.

  9. The other close correlation in the WSJ piece showed that 10 of the 16 terrorists who struck Europe in the last two years, 10 of them had either gone to Syria and come back or had tried to go to Syria.

    The government has a legitimate libertarian responsibility to protect our rights from foreign threats, and who can and can’t come here, become citizens, etc. is purely at the behest of Congress according to the Constitution–so long as Congress’ rules conform to the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The text of Trump’s travel ban conflicts with neither one, and if Congress enacted a total ban on visas and citizenship from those countries compromised by anti-U.S. terrorism–using the same basis as Trump’s executive order–that wouldn’t conflict with the First or Fourteenth Amendment either.

    P.S. Telling people that we can’t prevent terrorists from coming here because of the First Amendment probably doesn’t discourage them from supporting Trump’s travel ban. It probably just discourages them from supporting the First Amendment.

    1. This will force your enemies to use more white bread native born stooges for their terror attacks, assuming that Trump’s orders will prevent foreign terrorist attacks.

      They have a tactic that is cheap and effective at doing what they want it to. Terror doesn’t require the perpetrators to be foreigners. It works just as well, even better arguably, if they are natives.

  10. Because washing pieces of little girls out of your hair is a small price to pay for more Muslim immigration!

    1. Sometimes, I actually think the people who support open immigration from countries that hate us are knowingly wanting bad people to come here. As if the USA cannot be destroyed unless its from the inside out thru demographics.

      Then I remember that Hillary does not seem, on a fundamental level, really understand why she lost the election.

      1. They do want terroist. Do you think people would put up with their constant spying and going further in debt if we were not afraid. Fear a great motivater.

  11. sometimes the travel ban is a start and its better than anything the writers of Reason have proposed

    1. Once the president says the magic words, everything will start to get better.

      1. Things are better.

        -Hillary lost
        -Gorsuch is on the Supreme court
        -ObamaCare is falling apart and is being undermined by the Trump administration
        -the left are barely leaving their safe spaces

        1. I agree that some things are better under Trump. And there may be some nice surprises for us all in the future. Still, I was disappointed by how quickly he surrounded himself with the typical coterie of bankers, neo-cons and military careerists. Have you been at all disappointed by Trump, and if so, how?

          1. Of course. Even Reagan, who was a good president, came with his share of disappointments. Being president is a really goddamned hard job, and no matter what you do, and how good you do it, a good size chunk of the population will hate your guts.

            So given the alternative, I’m ok with the guy right now. Hopefully he gets better and not worse. Either way, one silver lining is that all the right people despise him. Which augers well in my opinion. Because as long as the democrats are in lock step against him, he is forced to reach out to congressional conservatives if he wants to get things done, as no democrat will make a deal with him.

  12. So the idea is that if it is only a tiny risk, then no worries.

    1. You’ll only be a little bit dead.

    2. They will work to ban guns and other stuff covered under the 2nd Amendment one way or another. If it means some immigrant terrorists kill Americans then so be it.

    3. I mean, do you realize that only 1,177 people died on the USS Arizona out of a population of 133 million?! That’s not even 1/1000th of a 1% – which is why we rightly stayed out of WWII.

  13. If the “travel ban” was really the “Muslim ban” Trump proposed during the election –

    ie, no travel, no tourism, no immigration, no students, from ALL Muslim countries, for 4 years (or until rescinded) that would be tough, and smart.

    As to the likelihood of getting killed in a “terrorist” attack, well last year it was less than this year. Next year it will be more than this year.

    In England it looks to me like you can measure the change now weekly.

    We got enough of our own home grown cranks and crooks without importing ever more members of a violent political “religion” that hate us because we are not them.

    1. “and smart.”

      Sorry, but that’s not enough. You gotta be smarter than your enemy if you expect to beat him. And it only takes an idiot to neutralize this Muslim Ban of yours. You pointed it out yourself, there are plenty of native candidates, and the enemy has no qualms about exploiting them.

      1. so, it would at least slow down the growth in the pool of available candidates, right?

        but, I’ll go further –


        That will put a stop to it all.

        1. I said smarter than your enemies, not crazier.

  14. Is it that hard to acknowledge that Trump wants to prevent the same countries sending millions of migrants into Europe from doing the same to the US? WE have the benefit of being able to control who can and can’t cross the ocean from there to here. A travel ban is just one part.

    Please don’t pretend that there’s no correlation between the frequent attacks in Europe and their inability to keep the perpetrators from entering their country, or the fact that the kids of the people they already let in are now committing these crimes as well.

    Or is it too much to ask for a little bit of “reason” from the writers here?

    1. I wish he actually did want to prevent that, but sadly his week-kneed response shows that he really doesn’t get it.

    2. The reason Europe is getting all the migrants/refugees is that they are on the same land mass. I think that the Atlantic ocean is doing pretty well stopping a similar situation in North America. If we also stop actively bringing in refugees that have no particular connection to the US, the travel ban probably doesn’t add much in terms of security.

      1. there are now more illegal Asian immigrants coming to the West coast than from latino nations. Oceans don’t seam to stop those who want to get somewhere

        1. So you want the government to stop them? Because these outsiders violate your sense of community? What happened to letting market forces govern the movement of ideas, people and goods?

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