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Trump's travel ban “recruiting tool for extremists”: James Clapper

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Travel BanTrump’s travel ban “recruiting tool for extremists”: James Clapper

Published 10 February 2017

James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, said he worried that the Travel Ban announced by the Trump administration is damaging to U.S. interests. Moreover, he said, it was unnecessary because he was not aware of any intelligence which would justify necessitating the ban. Clapper said the current vetting was not “perfect,” but that the safeguards were strong enough to keep the country safe without this new measure.

James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, said he worried that the Travel Ban announced by the Trump administration is damaging to U.S. interests. Moreover, he said, it was unnecessary because he was not aware of any intelligence which would justify necessitating the ban.

In an interview with CNN’s national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, Clapper said: “I do worry (the) countries in question with whom we do deal and who are reliable partners, and I also worry about this creating a recruiting tool for the extremists,” Clapper said, “that they will point to this proof that there is a war on all Muslims and they are very astute, particularly ISIL, at exploiting for recruitment purposes.”

Trump’s travel ban covers people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya. The ban bars people from these countries from entering the United States for 120 days until a stricter vetting process has been put in place.

Clapper said the current vetting was not “perfect,” but that the safeguards were strong enough to keep the country safe without this new measure.

Clapper, who left office on the day the new administration came in, said that although he was more removed from the relevant information each day that goes by, “I don’t believe we, in (the intelligence community), were aware of any extraordinary threats that we weren’t already dealing with.”

He added, “We were using some very rigorous vetting processes to check people, validate the people were who they claim to be.”

Clapper also said that Russia posed a clear threat to the United States. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian government hackers were behind cyber efforts intended to affect the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

I’m sure they’ve continued” with the hacking, even after intelligence agencies released a report detailing their alleged breaches, he assessed. “I think it’s in their DNA, whether during the Soviet Era or now.”

And what about possible Russian attempts to interfere in the 2018 midterm or 2020 presidential election?

I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. If they thought it would be to their advantage to influence a national election or a congressional election, they would,” Clapper said.

Clapper, a retired Air Force intelligence officer, served under every president since John F. Kennedy.

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