A Washington Post “fact check” of a Trump administration statement turned into a bizarre defense of foreign-born terrorists Monday.
The White House is using a list of 72 immigrants arrested on terror-related charges in the U.S. since 9/11 to defend Trump’s immigration ban. All 72 are from the seven countries covered by the ban, and 33 of them were convicted of serious terror crimes. Hoping to downplay and discredit these findings, WaPo fact checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee ends up defending the convicts, and making the dubious assertion that letting a few terrorists into the country just isn’t a big deal.
She defends an Iranian immigrant convicted of trafficking heroin into the country on behalf of Hezbollah, noting he did not actually plan a terror attack on U.S. soil, as though anything short of detonating a bomb constitutes a star resident.
“In one 2013 case, Siavosh Henareh, was sentenced to prison for conspiring to import heroin into the United States,” she wrote. “Henareh was one of three defendants charged in connection to trafficking of drugs and weapons on behalf of Hezbollah.”
Oh yeah, and his two friends were trafficking weapons for the terror group as well. Nothing to see here.
Another guy is written off as non-threatening by Ye Hee Lee, because he and his friends wired $200,000 to a group they thought was Hezbollah, but was actually an under-cover agent. Because they only thought they were sending money to terrorists, but no real terrorists were involved, she puts them in the non-threatening category.
“It’s important to note that being convicted of material support [to terrorists] is not always evidence that the person was planning a terrorist attack or terrorism-related activities,” she advises.
Ye He Lee also mischaracterizes the source of the list, attributing it entirely to the Center for Immigration Studies, when in fact the list originates from a Senate committee on immigration, which compiled it last year based on open-source documents. (RELATED: At Least 15 ‘Citizen Terrorists’ Also Legal Immigrants)
Brushing aside the 33 immigrants convicted on terror charges ranging from material support to terrorists abroad, to gruesome plots planned in the U.S., to possession of explosives or missiles, Ye Hee Lee claims the White House doesn’t have enough evidence to justify its claim that immigrants from these countries pose a potential terror threat.
“Miller cited this research to say that several dozen people from the seven countries identified in the executive order were involved in ‘all different kinds of terroristic activity,'” she writes, referring to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. “But upon closer examination of the cases on the list, it becomes clear that his statement went too far. In fact, this is pretty thin gruel on which to make sweeping claims about the alleged threat posed to the United States by these seven countries, especially because the allegations often did not concern alleged terrorist acts in the United States.”
Whether or not allowing 30 plus would-be terrorists into the country constitutes “thin gruel” for the White House policy argument is obviously a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, Ye Hee Lee rates the use of the figure as “mostly false,” apparently because not all 72 people on the list fit into the category of terrorist as defined by The Washington Post.
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