Amidst GOP presidential candidates (I believe with the exception of Jeb) and a number of governors appearing to be xenophobic and Islamophobic, the comedian-in-chief took their position as an opportunity to ridicule and belittle:
Manila, Philippines (CNN)President Barack Obama sharply criticized Republicans Wednesday for suggesting that Syrian refugees coming to the United States posed a security threat, blasting some GOP suggestions as “offensive” and mocking what he said was a fear of “widows and orphans.”
“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said. “We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”
“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” he said later. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
How presidential. What a uniter.
Meanwhile in this morning’s news, 8 ISIS suspects have been arrested at the Istanbul airport, posing as refugees:
Police sources said one of the suspects had a hand-drawn picture of a planned route from Turkey to Germany, via Greece, Serbia and Hungary.
It is believed the group are Islamic State militants planning to make their way to Germany posing as refugees.
The Anadolu Agency said the group arrived in Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco, and were interviewed by criminal profiling teams at Ataturk Airport.
Anadolu said the eight claimed to be tourists visiting Istanbul but a hotel refuted claims they had reservations there.
The arrests come as Europe is on high alert following the terror attacks in Paris which have left 129 dead and hundreds injured.
The arrests come after an ISIS terrorist bragged about how easy it was to smuggle thousands of covert jihadists into Europe under the guise of being a desperate refugee.
The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen had made it into western nations, hidden among innocent refugees.
He said members of the blood-thirsty group were following the well-trodden route taken by refugees and migrants fleeing Syria, travelling across the border of Turkey then on to boats across to Greece and through Europe.
The man claimed there are now more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen “ready” to strike across the European Union.
He said it was the beginning of a larger plot to carry out revenge attacks in the West in retaliation for the US-led coalition airstrikes.
He said extremists are taking advantage of developed nations’ generosity towards refugees to infiltrate Europe, he said.
More than 1.5million refugees have fled into Turkey alone – desperate to escape the bloodshed in Syria.
From Turkish port cities like Izmir and Mersin, thousands of refugees venture across the Mediterranean aiming for Italy, he said.
Then the majority make for more welcoming nations like Sweden and Germany, turning themselves over to authorities and appealing for asylum.
He said: “They are going like refugees.
“It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world.”
Two Turkish refugee-smugglers backed up the claims made by the terrorist.
One admitted to helping more than ten trained ISIS rebels infiltrate Europe under the guise of asylum seekers.
He said: “I’m sending some fighters who want to go and visit their families.
“Others just go to Europe to be ready.”
One good piece I’ve seen in defense of allowing in Syrian refugees is by Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare Blog:
There is a critical moral line here; there is also an important strategic line. I have nothing to add on the law to Steve Vladeck’s excellent piece this morning on the federalism issues associated with refugee resettlement. Allow me, however, a brief meditation on the morality and strategic stupidity of the hostility many of our leading politicians are showing to ISIS’s and Assad’s victims.
Let’s start with the moral point: Unlike the many tough and controversial tactics the Bush and Obama administrations have used in combatting terrorism, what’s going on now involves action directed at concededly innocent people. Even the CIA’s interrogation program waterboarded people believed to be Al Qaeda’s senior operational leadership. The tens of thousands of people governors are pledging to keep out of their states are, by contrast, innocent victims of the very people we are fighting. Nobody contests this. Nobody argues that they are, in fact, an army of ISIS operatives. The concern, rather, is that some tiny percentage of them will be sleeper operatives infiltrated into a much larger group of people deserving of our protection.
I would make an analogy here to throwing out babies with bathwater, except that it would be in poor taste. We’re dealing with real babies, after all.
Let’s concede the point that our rigorous and slow screening system will fail in some small percentage of cases and that we will admit some number of people who turn out to be bad. If that is enough to stop all Syrian refugees from finding shelter here, why do we grant visas—and we grant many of them—to people from that part of the world at all? Why do we let students come here from the Persian Gulf? Why do we let tourists come here from just about anywhere? And, more to the point, why have we let refugees come here from all sorts of nasty places in the world? Each refugee community brings with it a certain number of bad apples. But I wouldn’t give back the Mariel boatlift, though it involved a fair number of Cuban criminals. The United States also sheltered a large number of Iranians after the Revolution in 1979. We are, by a few country miles, the world’s leader in refugee resettlement. To suddenly say that the risk of ISIS infiltrating this particular refugee flow makes it categorically different from all others is really a backhanded way of saying that we should make a different set of security presumptions about Arabs, even those we know to be victims of the worst forms of oppression by our own military enemies.
The sentiment is not just ugly. It may also be profoundly self-defeating in security terms. Yes, if we admit tens of thousands of refugees, we will likely admit some who will give the FBI headaches. We will also create a community that values American liberty and religious freedom, that engages constructively with our economy and with our law enforcement and that sees this country as part of the solution to—or at least a haven from—the tragedy that is Syria.
It is worth reflecting at least briefly on the security risks of turning our backs on hundreds of thousands of helpless people fleeing some combination of ISIS and Assad. Imagine teeming refugee camps in which everyone knows that America has abandoned them. Imagine the conspiracy theories that will be rife in those camps. Imagine the terrorist groups that will recruit from them and the righteous case they will make about how, for all its talk, the United States left Syria to burn and Syrians to live in squalor in wretched camps in neighboring countries. I don’t know if this situation is more dangerous, less dangerous, or about as dangerous as the situation in which we admit a goodly number of refugees, help resettle others, and run some risk—which we endeavor to mitigate—that we might admit some bad guys. But this is not a situation in which all of the risk is stacked on the side of doing good, while turning away is the safe option. There is risk whatever we do or don’t do.
Most profoundly, there is risk associated with saying loudly and unapologetically that we don’t care what happens to hundreds of thousands of innocent people—or that we care if they’re Christian but not if they’re Muslim, or that we care but we’ll keep them out anyway if there’s even a fraction of a percent chance they are not what they claim to be. They hear us when we say these things. And they will see what we do. And those things too have security consequences.
Trying to weigh in the pros and cons, I am on the fence.