Yesterday on January 31, 2017 I was arrested in the U.S. Senate's Intelligence Committee hearing on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. I was charged with "Disruption of Congress."
Like so many who have been arrested during the confirmation hearings of virtually every nominee of President Trump for every Cabinet position, I felt I had to express my deep concern about Jeff Sessions possibly becoming the Attorney General of the United States.
The night before the hearing, on January 30, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had been fired by President Trump for her decision that Justice Department lawyers would not defend the Executive Order to stop the entire US refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely ban vetted Syrian refugees and suspend all citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from using valid visas or applying for visas to the United States for the next 90 days.
The two previous days massive demonstrations in every major international airport in the United States to protest the ban had mobilized tens of thousands of Americans and prompted Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to state that Canada would take all refugees that the United States was refusing to accept.
On the day of my arrest, over 900 career U.S. diplomats issued a Dissent Memo titled: "Dissent Channel: Alternatives to Closing Doors in Order to Secure Our Borders." The memo stated...
"A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travelers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer... Moreover, such a policy runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play, and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.
"We are better than this ban...Looking beyond its effectiveness, this ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold...
"Decades from now, we will look back and realize we made the same mistakes our predecessors: shutting borders in a knee-jerk reaction instead of setting up systems of checks that protect our interests and our values...
"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 reflects our American values, and which would make the Department proud."
When asked about the dissent of career U.S. diplomats serving in Washington and in U.S. embassies around the world, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the executive order is about protecting Americans, and he said those diplomats who are objecting "should either get with the program or they can go."