Foreign Service Officers Join the Dissent

Over the weekend thousands of people took to the streets (again) and international airports to protest against the current occupant of the White House. This time the focus of their dissent was on the executive order Trump signed banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

According to the folks at Lawfare, opposition to that order has now been joined by hundreds of foreign service officers and diplomats at the State Department.  They’re using the State Department’s Dissent Channel, which was created in 1971 in response to concerns within the Department over the government’s handling of the Vietnam War.

Employees have drafted a dissent memo (which you can read at the Lawfare link above) stating their opposition to the president’s executive order, saying that “the ban” will not achieve its ends, is likely to be counterproductive, and it even offers a more pragmatic way forward. It ends with this:

We do not need to place a blanket ban that keeps 220 million people – men, women and children – from entering the United States to protect our homeland. We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe. And we do not need to sacrifice our reputation as a nation which is open and welcoming to protect our families. It is well within our reach to create a visa process which is more secure, which affects our American values, and which would make the Department proud.

According to Dissent Channel protocols, authors of a memo must not be subject to penalty or disciplinary action and the department must acknowledge receipt of this memo within two working days, distribute it to leadership in the State Department and issue a substantive response within 30-60 working days.

Given the lengths to which the Trump administration has been willing to go in order to silence dissent within the federal bureaucracy, I suspect that the authors/signers have taken a major risk in order to state their objections and that these protocols are not likely to hold. With that in mind, it is important to acknowledge what they have done and let the American people know about the courageous stand they are taking.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.